Obesity is a disease involving excessive body fat that can negatively impact health. Someone whose weight is higher than the normal weight for their height is considered overweight. When their body mass index (BMI) is 30 or higher, they are considered obese.
BMI categories are as follows:
- Underweight = less than 18.5 kg/m2
- Normal weight = 18.5 to 24.9 kg/m2
- Overweight = 25 to 29.9 kg/m2
- Obesity = 30 kg/m2 or greater
What health problems can be caused by obesity?
Health problems that can occur due to obesity are:
- Insulin resistance: Insulin is necessary for transporting blood glucose into the cells of muscle and fat. Insulin resistance (IR) is a condition where your muscles and fat don’t respond well to the synthesized insulin and can’t use glucose in your blood for energy. Since fat cells are more insulin-resistant than muscle cells, obesity is one of the main causes of insulin resistance.
- Type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes: The risk of type 2 diabetes increases with the severity and duration of obesity. Type 2 diabetes is also associated with central obesity, which is when excess fat is concentrated around the waist.
- Cancer: Obesity increases the risk of colon, rectum, prostate, gallbladder, and uterus cancers. Obesity may also be associated with breast cancer, particularly in postmenopausal women. This is because fat tissue is important in the production of estrogen, and prolonged exposure to high levels of estrogen increases the risk of breast cancer.
- High cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia)
- Stroke (cerebrovascular accident or CVA)
- Heart attack
- Gout and gouty arthritis
- Sleep apnea
How is obesity diagnosed?
To diagnose obesity, tests may be ordered in addition to a physical exam. Your doctor will also consider your:
- Medical history
- Measurement of your waist circumference
- BMI calculation
- Blood tests for cholesterol, blood sugars, thyroid levels, polycystic ovarian disease, (PCOD) panel, etc.
How is obesity managed?
Obesity can be reduced through:
- Dietary changes, such as cutting calories and making healthier food choices
- Increased physical activity and exercise
- Prescription weight loss medication (in cases where lifestyle changes do not help)
- Weight loss surgeries, such as gastric bypass surgery, gastric sleeves, and adjustable gastric banding
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Hamdy O. Obesity. Medscape. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/123702-overview
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