Obesity and BMI

Obesity is a condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it can cause your health to deteriorate and even reduce your life expectancy. It is a growing problem globally.


Causes of Obesity

Weight gain occurs when the amount of energy taken in (through food and drinks) is greater than the amount used (through exercise). Lifestyle factors are the most common causes of obesity and include:
Eating large portions and snacking in between meals
Eating food high in fat and sugar, including soft drinks and fruit juice concentrates
A sedentary job
Lack of exercise

People with a family history of being overweight or obesity are themselves more likely to become obese. Certain illnesses and medications can also contribute to weight gain.

Problems Caused by Obesity

A number of illnesses are associated with being obese or overweight and the risk of developing many of them increases the heavier one becomes. These include:
Diabetes and its complications, such as kidney disease, blindness, poor circulation and leg ulcers
Heart disease
Hypertension (high blood pressure)
High cholesterol
Snoring and sleep apnoea (breathing difficulties that interrupt sleep)
Certain cancers
Erectile dysfunction and decreased male fertility
Polycystic ovarian syndrome in women (menstrual irregularities, decreased fertility) 
Joint problems and decreased mobility
Psychological problems such as anxiety and depression

Obesity and Body Mass Index (BMI)

There are many methods of measuring body fat, but the most popular (and the simplest) is the body mass index (BMI), which measures the relationship between your weight and height. The diagram below shows how to calculate your BMI.

Definitions of Obesity 

According to the World Health Organisation, an obese BMI is considered to be 30 or more, while an overweight BMI is considered to be more than 25. However, for the same BMI, Asians generally have more body fat compared to Caucasians, and are at higher risk of developing diabetes and heart disease at a BMI of 23, with the risk increasing with a higher BMI, especially at a BMI of 27.5.

In addition, a large waist circumference (abdominal obesity) also increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes. A large waist circumference means that there is more fat stored in the abdomen. Fat storage inside the abdomen interferes with the function of the heart, liver and other vital organs. 

Treatment for Obesity

The key to reducing your BMI to a healthy level is simple: eating less and exercising more. A modest weight loss of between five and 10 percent of the current body weight has been shown to be capable of reducing cardiovascular risk factors.

Doctors may prescribe medicine for people who are obese, to be combined with diet changes and exercise.

In very obese people with weight-related illness who have failed to lose weight in the traditional ways, bariatric surgery may be advised in order to lose a large amount of weight. This is not suitable for everybody, and your doctor is the best person to advise if you should be referred to a bariatric surgeon.

Motivating Yourself to Lose Weight

Imagine how you will look when you are a healthy weight rather than being demoralised that you are overweight.
Set realistic goals; a target weight loss of about 1kg a week is manageable and it will not take long before you begin to feel the benefits of eating more healthily. 
Reward yourself when you reach your weight goals along the way.
If you lapse, don’t despair and don’t give up. Get back on track and continue as before.

How to Lose Weight

Cut down on calories, particularly on fats and carbohydrates. 
Eat more fruit and vegetables. 
Eat breakfast and have regular meals. 
Weigh yourself regularly to monitor your progress.
Exercise regularly.

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Obesity and BMI

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