What is Obesity?

Updated at: Apr 08, 2013
What is Obesity?

Obesity can be defined as a medical condition of excess body fat accumulated to such an extent that it may have adverse effects on health, leading to reduced life expectancy.

Himanshu Sharma
ObesityWritten by: Himanshu SharmaPublished at: Apr 06, 2013

What is Obesity

Obesity is a condition of excess body fat. It affects both adults and children. Obesity could put you at risk of developing a number of medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer. In other words, health risks and complications are higher for those who are obese, and the risks may increase if obesity is not managed.


[Read: Healthy Eating Tips to Fight Obesity]

Obesity Calculator: Body Mass Index (BMI)

A direct measurement of body fat cannot be done easily. Body mass index (BMI) is one effective method to determine the difference between ideal weight, being underweight, overweight or obese. A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight and 30 or above is considered obese. People who carry most of their weight around the waist (apple shaped) have a greater risk of heart disease and diabetes than do people with large hips and thighs (pear shaped).

Your body fat can also be calculated by using skin calipers, an instrument that measures the thickness of the skin. Waist circumference is a good measure of the more dangerous abdominal obesity. Women with a waist size more than 35 inches or men with a waist size more than 40 inches are at an increased risk.


[Read: Natural Ways to Lose Weight]


People become obese because of a number of reasons. Some of the most common reasons and risk factors for obesity are:

  • Genetic influence: Genetic makeup plays a significant role in deciding how likely it is for someone to become obese, however, one can still maintain their weight unless they have one of those rare genetic diseases that make it almost impossible to avoid obesity.
  • Physiological influence: Every person has a specific set point for body weight. This is a predetermined weight that the body resists moving away from. Metabolic rate, the rate of the body to burn food, has a certain impact on the weight of the individual. Someone with a low metabolic rate may require fewer calories to maintain approximately the same body weight as someone whose metabolic rate is high. Pregnancy can contribute to obesity. About 15% of women weigh 20 pounds more after pregnancy.
  • Food intake and eating disorders: If you eat a lot, especially foods that are high in fat and calories, you are at greater risk of obesity. Obesity can be a result of eating disorders, such as night-eating syndrome or a tendency to binge.
  • Lifestyle: If you lead a sedentary lifestyle , you are at a higher risk of becoming obese.
  • Your weight history: If you were overweight as a child or as an adolescent, you are more likely to be obese as an adult.
  • Drugs: Some drugs can contribute to obesity. The most common drugs associated with obesity are steroid hormones and many of these drugs are used to treat psychiatric conditions.



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