The terms “overweight” and “obesity” refer to body weight that is greater than what is considered normal or healthy for a certain height. Obesity is a complex disorder involving an excessive amount of body fat. On the other hand, being overweight may be due to extra muscle, bone or water.
Obesity causes the risk of diseases and health problems, such as heart diseases, diabetes and high blood pressure. Obesity symptoms are found in children with weight above the normal for their age and height. In adults, men are more likely than women to be overweight. While women are more likely than men to have obesity symptoms.
Not every person carrying extra pounds find overweight or obesity symptoms. The Body-Mass Index (BMI) is one way to provide a guideline about weight, overweight or obesity.
- The BMI is a measure based on the person’s weight in relation to his/ her height.
- The greater the BMI, the greater the risk of health problems from overweight and obesity.
- When BMI is 30 or higher, it is a sign for obesity.
- BMI is calculated by dividing the person’s weight in kilograms (kg) by his/ her height in meters (m) squared.
The principal obesity causes are:
- Inactivity. Not being active burns no calories as body should. And stores these excess calories as fat.
- Unhealthy diet and eating habits. Weight gain becomes inevitable when body regularly obtains too many calories from food and drinks than those it can burn.
- Genetic and hormonal influences on body weight can also become obesity causes.
Obesity usually results from a combination of causes and contributing factors.
- Diet :
Regularly eating high-calorie foods, such as fast food and vending machine snacks, can cause weight gain. High-calorie beverages, desserts, fruit juices, in oversized portions contribute to weight gain and become culprits of obesity.
- Inactivity :
Not being active burns no calories as body should. Too much time spent in sedentary activities, such as watching television etc. can bring in more calories promptly than that body burns through exercise and daily activities.
- Family lifestyle :
Obesity tends to run in families. If one or both of the parents are obese, the chance that child will be obese is high. With genetics, similar eating and activity habits among family members is also an explanation.
- Psychological factors :
Personal, parental and family stress can increase the risk of obesity in children. Some children overeat to cope with problems or to deal with emotions, such as stress, or to fight boredom. Their parents might have similar tendencies too.
Factors that affect children will also affect adults, along with
- Genetics :
Your genes may affect the amount of body fat you store, and where that fat is distributed. Genetics may also play a role in how efficiently your body converts food into energy and how your body burns calories during exercise.
- Age :
Obesity can occur at any age, in young children too. With age, hormonal changes and less active lifestyle can increase the risk of obesity. In addition, the amount of muscle in the body tends to decrease with age. This lower muscle mass leads to a decrease in metabolism.
- Pregnancy :
In general, during pregnancy, a woman's weight increases. Some women find it difficult to lose after the baby is born. This weight gain may contribute to the development of obesity in women.
- Lack of sleep :
Not getting enough sleep or getting too much sleep can cause changes in hormones that changes your appetite. One may crave foods high in calories and carbohydrates, which can contribute to weight gain.
- Medical problems :
Medical problems, such as arthritis, can lead to decreased activity, which may result in weight gain.
- Certain medications :
Some medications can lead to weight gain if they are not compensated through diet or activity. These medications include some antidepressants, anti-seizure medications, diabetes medications, antipsychotic medications, steroids and beta-blockers.
- Social and economic factors :
Avoiding obesity is difficult if the person doesn't have safe areas to exercise. One may have limited resources and limited access to supermarkets or that they lag behind without money to buy healthy foods. Sometimes, people we spend time with, may also influence our weight.
- Quitting smoking :
Quitting smoking is often associated with weight gain. It might lead to enough weight gain that the person becomes obese. In the end, quitting smoking is still a greater benefit to health than continuing it.
These risk factors doesn't mean that a person is destined to become obese.
Anyone can counteract these risk factors with proper diet, behavior changes and with physical activity or exercise.
Obesity can bring in complications for both children and adult’s physical, social and emotional well-being.
- Type 2 diabetes
- High cholesterol
- Sleep disorders, including sleep apnea
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
- Bone fractures
Inclusive of the above, complications in adults also include
- High triglycerides and low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Metabolic syndrome
- Cancer, including cancer of the uterus, ovaries, breast, colon, rectum, esophagus, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, kidney and prostate.
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Gallbladder disease
- Gynecological problems, such as infertility and irregular periods
- Sexual health issues
Social and emotional complications
An obese person may not be able to carry out things he/she at one time used to. A few weight-related issues may disturb his/ her quality of life. In children, complications are
- Low self-esteem and being bullied
- Behavior and learning issues
Along with the above, complications in adults also include
- Social isolation
- Shame and guilt
- Sexual problems
- Lower work achievement
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