What is Obesity?

Obesity is characterized by an excessive accumulation of body fat. It is defined clinically by measures that "estimate" adiposity from body weight, body structure, and height. (1)

It is no longer considered a cosmetic problem caused by overeating and a lack of self-control. The World Health Organization (WHO.), Together with national and international medical and scientific societies, now recognize obesity as a chronic progressive disease resulting from multiple environmental and genetic factors.

It is a number one risk factor, which can be controlled, and is directly related to many diseases (called co-morbidities) such as hypertension, diabetes, arteriosclerosis, strokes, infertility, heart attacks and certain types of cancers.

The management of obesity has become the fundamental factor for the prevention of many diseases and the treatment of many patients who already suffer from them.

Obesity is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM2). Therefore, there has been a parallel increase in the prevalence of T2DM, currently at 9% worldwide and projected to reach 12% by 2025. Given the growing population, the global burden is likely of diabetes increase by more than 50% in the next decade. The metabolic abnormalities associated with obesity increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, including coronary artery disease and heart failure. (3)

Causes of Obesity

Although there are genetic, behavioral, metabolic, and hormonal influences on body weight, obesity occurs when more calories are ingested than are burned with exercise and normal daily activities. The body stores these excess calories in the form of fat.

Obesity is usually the result of a combination of causes and contributing factors such as the following:

The genes you inherit from your parents can affect how much body fat you store and where that fat is distributed. Genetics can also play a role in how efficiently your body converts food into energy, in the way your body regulates your appetite, and in the way your body burns calories during exercise.

Obesity tends to run in the whole family. Not only because of the genes they share, but family members also tend to share similar eating and activity habits.

Unhealthy diet
A high calorie diet, high calorie drinks, and oversized portions contribute to weight gain.

If you have a sedentary lifestyle, it is very easy for you to eat more calories every day than you burn when you exercise and do normal daily activities. Looking at the screens of computers, tablets and phones is a sedentary activity. The number of hours you spend in front of a screen is highly associated with weight gain.

In some people, obesity can have a medical cause, such as Prader-Willi syndrome, Cushing syndrome, or other disorders. Medical problems, such as arthritis, can also decrease physical activity, which can lead to weight gain.

Some medications can cause weight gain if you don't compensate for it with diet or physical activity. These medications include some antidepressants, anticonvulsant medications, diabetes medications, antipsychotic medications, steroids, and beta-blockers.

There are social and economic factors related to obesity. Similarly, you may not have been taught healthy ways to cook or you may not have access to healthier foods. Also, the people you spend time with can influence your weight; you are more likely to develop obesity if you have obese friends or relatives.

Obesity can occur at any age, even in young children. However, as you age, hormonal changes and a less active lifestyle increase your risk of obesity. Also, the amount of muscle in the body tends to decrease with age.

Generally, the decrease in muscle mass leads to a decrease in metabolism. These changes also lower the calories you need, which can make it harder to avoid excess weight. If you do not consciously control what you eat and do not get more physical activity as you age, you are likely to gain weight.

  • Pregnancy. Weight gain is common during pregnancy. For some women, after the baby is born, it is difficult to lose that weight that they gained. This weight gain can contribute to the development of obesity in women. Breastfeeding may be the best option for losing the weight gained during pregnancy.
  • Give up smoking. Quitting smoking is often associated with weight gain. And for some people, it can lead to enough weight gain to qualify as obesity. Often this happens when people use food to cope with abstinence from smoking. However, in the long term, quitting smoking is still a greater health benefit than continuing to smoke. Your doctor can help you prevent weight gain after you quit smoking.
  • Lack of sleep. Not getting enough sleep or getting too much sleep can cause hormonal changes that increase your appetite. You may also feel like eating foods that are high in calories and carbohydrates, which can contribute to weight gain.
  • Stress. Many external factors that affect mood and well-being can contribute to obesity. People often reach for more high-calorie foods when experiencing stressful situations.
  • Microbial. Gut bacteria are affected by what you eat and can contribute to weight gain or difficulty losing weight.
  • Previous attempts to lose weight. Previous attempts at weight loss followed by rapid weight regain can contribute to further weight gain. This phenomenon, sometimes called a yo-yo diet, can slow down your metabolism.

Consequences of Obesity

Some of the diseases and complications related to Obesity are the following:

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