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About Obesity

Definition Of Obesity

Obesity used to be considered a cosmetic problem that was a result of overeating and too little self-control. However, the W.H.O. and scientific and medical societies worldwide now understand that it is a multifactorial disease with a strong genetic component that is both progressive and chronic. Genetics come into play via many factors, including metabolic, behavioral, cultural, hormonal, and psychological factors that cause fat accumulation and lead to weight gain.

A Chronic Disease

In addition to the strong genetic component, there are hormonal, metabolic, psychological, cultural, and behavioral factors that promote fat accumulation and weight gain that leads to more weight gain and ultimately to obesity, making obesity a progressive and chronic disease. For this reason, obesity requires lifelong treatment and control.

Today, In the U.S., more than 78 million people suffer from obesity. Today more than one in three Americans are obese. It is one of the top preventable causes of death in the U. S.

Obesity has become one of the top preventable causes of death in the U. S.  According to the National Institute of Health, obesity and overweight together are the second leading cause of preventable death in the USA. 300,00.00 deaths per year are due to the obesity epidemic.

Obesity is a costly disease that hurts people financially and harms their physical health, emotional health, and well-being as a whole.

Obesity is a progressive disease that gets worse over time.

Obesity is not only pervasive and chronic, but it is also the root cause of many health problems some of which include high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.

Positive Energy Balance

A positive energy balance leads to weight gain and occurs when the amount of calories taken or ingested exceeds the number of calories the body spends or uses to perform basic biological functions, daily activities, and exercise. The causes behind a positive energy balance are multiple, among them lack of exercise or overeating.

Other conditions affect your energy balance and your fat accumulation, and these do not include overeating or being too sedentary.

  1. Not getting enough sleep
  2. Eating foods that, outside of their number of calories, cause hormonal or metabolic changes that can increase your amount of body fat. These foods include those that are high in processed grains, high in sugar, fat, high in high fructose corn syrup and processed meats.
  3. Eating not enough foods that fight fat. These include legumes, vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts and high-quality protein.
  4. Being under heavy stress and/or psychological upset
  5. Certain medications
  6. A number of pollutants

Prevalence Of Obesity

The W.H.O. estimates that about 65% of the people in the world live in countries that have more people dying from obesity than they do from being underweight. Among the adults in the world, about 500 million are affected by obesity. Nearly a billion adults and 48 million children are affected by being overweight.

In the U.S., according to the data from an ongoing long-term study supported by the CDC that has measured thousands of Americans’ body sizes have revealed that for those over age 20, more than 34 % of people are obese. A full 68% of them are overweight according to data from 2007-2008. For children ages 2-5, 10% of them are obese. Among kids between the ages of 6 and 11, 2% of them are obese. For adolescents, 18% are obese.

In the last 20-25 years, the number of those affected by obesity has risen at an alarming rate. Since 1985 the CDC has supported an ongoing study, conducted on a yearly basis by  state health departments to examine changes in obesity prevalence state to state, and has found the following:

  • In 1990, most states had an obesity prevalence of 10% or even less.
  • In 1995, a prevalence of 15% was found in more than 25 states.
  • In 2000, there was a prevalence of at least 20% in almost half of the states.
  • In 2005, an obesity prevalence of more than 20% was found in 47 states, and almost a third of the states had at least 30%.
  • In 2010, most states had about 20%, and many states had at least 30%.
  • If the trend continues, by 2030, about half of all adults will be obese.

Measuring Obesity And Body Mass Index (BMI)

Obesity is a disease marked by the accumulation of too much body fat. There are multiple devices that can determine the amount of fat versus lean tissue in the body. However, they are expensive and time-consuming. The alternative to clinically diagnose obesity is by other measures that estimate the body’s fat content or adiposity based on the patient’s height, build, and weight. Ideal Body Weight (IBW) and body mass index (BMI), are two of those measures.

IBW is a number taken from the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Table. It takes into account not only bodyweight but also body frame, the latter being a measure considered arbitrary by many experts.

BMI is considered a more accurate and more commonly used measure to assess patients for fat content, in other words, to assess overweight or obesity. BMI gives an approximate estimate of the body fat in excess that a person has taken into account both height and weight. However, there are exceptions such as in athletes, bodybuilders, elderly and pregnant women because the BMI doesn’t account for any difference between body fat and muscle or distribution of fat in the body (abdominal or peripheral) and it is not a good measure of the metabolic activity of the fat tissue.

Obese and overweight are terms used for weight ranges higher than the range of healthy weights.

BMI has determined the number of categories of body size based on the association between the BMI numbers and the risk of death. The BMI numbers and their categories are:



BMI Range

Normal Size

18.9 to 24.9


25 to 29.9

Class I, Obesity

30 to 34.9

Class II, Serious Obesity

35 to 39.9

Class III, Severe Obesity

40 and greater

Measure Your Body Body mass index


Your BMI is......

less than 18.5: Underweight
18.5 - 24.9:Normal weight
25 - 29.9:Overweight
30 - 34.9:Class I Obese
35 - 39.9:Class II Obese
40 upwards:Class III Obese

Lower BMI

Lower BMI is a weight range that is between a BMI of 30 and 40. This range is on the lower end of the spectrum of obesity, but a person in this range is still obese and runs a risk of developing other obesity related health problems. Right now, those who have lower BMI have few options for weight loss– exercise and dieting are their only options, as bariatric surgery requires patients to have a BMI of at least 35 if they have comorbidities and 40 if they don’t.

Causes Of Obesity

Obesity is a result of a positive energy balance in the body: when the intake of calories exceeds the number of calories used by the body. There are multiple factors influencing this positive energy balance. Overeating and lack of exercise are some of these factors. However, there are other factors that play a role, including genetic, hormonal, metabolic, environmental behavioral and cultural factors. Medications, lack of sleep, as well as unhealthy diets are other factors also. of sleep, medical problems, inactivity, pregnancy, and metabolism.

Consequences & Quality Of Life

There are more than 30 health conditions that can be caused by obesity. These are chronic conditions and include high cholesterol, sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, gastroesophageal reflux disease (often called GERD), heart disease, numerous cancers, asthma, and various other respiratory problems.

Obesity also affects a person’s general quality of life, as it causes shame, depression, sexual problems, guilt, social isolation, and performing less well at work.

Economic Impact

Obesity is expensive not only on a personal level but on a global level. 

The cost of obesity to the US health system was a chilling $147 billion in 2008 alone. If the trend of obesity continues to skyrocket, as all indicators are showing, by 2030 the medical costs associated with obesity could add an additional $43 to $66 billion every year. 

The medical cost for people who have obesity is about $1,429 higher than those of normal weight. (Data from 2008)

Obesity is a progressive, chronic disease but it is also preventable and reversible.

 If you are concerned about your weight, please call us to learn more about obesity and how you can take charge of improving your weight and your health.

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