Obesity is a medical condition which refers to as accumulation of excess body fat. This condition is commonly seen across the globe and in different age groups. Obesity is responsible for causing many health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Being a high level obese means you are vulnerable to health problems related to your weight. Obesity is behind a number of deaths due to heart ailments, diabetes and hypertension.
An important thing to note is that even modest weight loss can improve or prevent the health problems associated with obesity. Starting with healthy eating, increased physical activity and behaviour changes can also help you lose weight. In some cases, medications or weight-loss surgery is beneficial.
Common causes of obesity
Although genes and hormones influence body weight, obesity occurs when you consume more calories than you burn through exercise and normal daily activities. The body stores excess calories as fat. Obesity usually results from a number of causes, including:
- If you are inactive, you don't burn as many calories. With a lethargic lifestyle, you can easily consume more calories every day than you use through exercise.
- Having a high calorie diet full of fast food minus fruits and vegetables, skipping breakfast and taking high-calorie beverages all contribute to weight gain.
- A woman's weight necessarily increases during pregnancy. Some women find it difficult to shed weight after child birth. This weight gain may contribute to the development of obesity in women.
- Too little sleep can disturb hormones which can increase your appetite. You may also indulge in foods high in calories and carbohydrates leading to weight gain.
- Some medications such as antidepressants, diabetes medications, beta blockers, corticosteroids can lead to weight gain if you don't compensate through diet or activity.
A case of obesity is confirmed when an individual’s BMI (body mass index) is 30 or more. Body mass index is computed by dividing your weight in kilograms (kg) by your height in meters (m) square. Below is an indication of BMI and weight status:
BMI            Weight status
Below 18.5   Underweight
30.0-34.9     Class 1 Obese
35.0-39.9     Class 2 Obese
40.0            Class 3 Obese(Extreme)
For many individuals, BMI is a logical calculation of body fat. However, BMI does not accurately measure body fat. So some people like athletes may not fall under the obese category even though their BMI is on the higher side. You can take assistance from a dietitian to solve this problem.
The main objective of obesity treatment is to reach a healthy weight. You may require working with some health professionals to help you understand and make changes in your eating and activity habits.
- Dietary Changes: Minimizing calories and eating healthier are important to overcoming obesity. At the beginning, you may lose weight quickly, but steady weight loss over the long term is considered the safest way to lose weight. Say no crash diets, because they are not prudent enough to help you keep excess weight off for the long term.
- Exercise and physical activity: One of the important treatments for obesity is increased physical activity or exercise. Many people are able to control their weight by simply walking, 30 minutes daily. But for obese people at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity is recommended to prevent further weight gain. It is best to break exercise regime into several sessions throughout the day.
- Behavioural Changes: A behaviour change program can help you make lifestyle changes and lose weight. Measures to take include examining your current habits to find out what factors, stresses or situations may have contributed to your obesity. Behaviour modification can include counselling from trained mental health professionals and support groups.
- Weight-Loss Surgery: Also known as bariatric surgery, this option is open for individuals who have tried everything in the book to lose weight but have failed every time. However, bariatric surgery can pose serious risks.
You may always have to be vigilant about your weight. A combination of healthier diet and more activity in a practical and sustainable manner is the best way to lose weight and keep it off for the long term.