What Is Obesity?

Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on health, leading to reduced life expectancy and/or increased health problems. The 'body mass index' (BMI), a measurement which compares weight and height, defines people as overweight (pre-obese) if their BMI is between 25 and 30 kg/m2. When this number is greater than 30 kg/m2 we are talking about obesity.

What causes obesity?

Obesity is most commonly caused by:

  1. A lack of energy balance. This simply means more energy IN than energy OUT over time.
  2. An inactive lifestyle. Relying on cars instead of walking, fewer physical demands at work or at home because of modern technology and conveniences and lack of physical education classes in schools.
  3. Genes and family history. Studies of identical twins who have been raised apart show that genes have a strong influence on a person's weight. Overweight and obesity tend to run in families. Your chances of being overweight are greater if one or both of your parents are overweight or obese.
  4. Health Conditions. Some hormone problems may cause overweight and obesity.
  5. Emotional Factors. Some people eat more than usual when they're bored, angry, or stressed. Over time, overeating will lead to weight gain and may cause overweight or obesity.
  6. Smoking. Nicotine raises the rate at which your body burns calories, so you burn fewer calories when you stop smoking.
  7. Age. As you get older, you tend to lose muscle, especially if you're less active. Midlife weight gain in women is mainly due to aging and lifestyle, but menopause also plays a role.
  8. Pregnancy. During pregnancy, women gain weight to support their babies' growth and development.
  9. Lack of Sleep. Research shows that lack of sleep increases the risk of obesity.

What are the risks of being obese?

Obesity increases the likelihood of various diseases such as:

  1. Coronary Heart Disease
  2. High Blood Pressure
  3. Stroke
  4. Type 2 Diabetes
  5. Abnormal Blood Fats
  6. Metabolic Syndrome
  7. Cancer
  8. Osteoarthritis
  9. Sleep Apnoea
  10. Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome
  11. Reproductive Problems
  12. Gallstones

Obesity is the leading preventable cause of death worldwide, with increasing prevalence in adults and children. It is viewed as one of the most serious public health problems of the 21st century.


Ariel University