Obesity is a medical condition characterized by excessive fat accumulation that can impair health.
It is a global health epidemic with more than 650 million people affected worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Obesity contributes to many diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, and certain cancers, such as breast, colon, and prostate.
The medical definition of obesity is based on the calculation of body mass index (BMI), a formula of your weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. People with a BMI of 30 or above are considered obese.
The primary symptoms of obesity are:
- Feeling out of breath
- Increased sweating
- Back and joint pain
- Muscle pain
- Low confidence and self-esteem
- Feelings of isolation
- Sexual dysfunction
Obesity can lead to other health problems, including hypertension, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and stroke.
Obesity is caused by an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended, although some people are more predisposed to obesity than others.
Environmental factors that contribute to obesity include leading an inactive lifestyle, consuming too much sugar, dining out too frequently, altered gut microbiome, and not getting enough sleep.
Obesity can sometimes be due to a medical condition, such as thyroid disease, hormonal conditions, Prader-Willi syndrome, and Cushing syndrome. Many medications, including antidepressants, hormonal birth control, steroids, pain medications (such as opioids), and antihistamines, can also contribute to weight gain by either slowing metabolism or increasing appetite.
For some people, obesity is strongly linked to genetics and family history. Researchers have identified specific gene mutations and biological changes associated with obesity.
Obesity is mostly preventable with a healthy lifestyle. Following a balanced, portion-controlled diet, making an effort to move more, finding healthy outlets for stress, and getting enough sleep are very helpful for weight management. Eat slowly, put the fork down between bites, drink water before each meal, and always combine a protein with carbohydrate. While small frequent meals may help some, it also triggers insulin release, which can cause weight gain.