Obesity occurs when a person consumes more calories than he or she burns, resulting in an excess proportion of total body fat. For many people this amounts to eating too much and exercising too little. The American diet is high in sugar, fat, and salt. It is no surprise that obesity has become an epidemic in the United States when an unhealthy diet is combined with a sedentary lifestyle. However, several other factors play a role in obesity. These may include: age, gender, genetics, environmental factors, psychological factors, medications, and illness.
A person is considered obese when his or her weight is 20% or more above normal weight. The most common measure of obesity is the body mass index or BMI. A person is considered overweight if his or her BMI is between 25 and 29.9; a person is considered obese if his or her BMI is over 30.
To measure your BMI:
BMI = Weight (lb) / (Height (in) x Height (in)) x 703 For example: if your weight is 170 and your height is 5’6” (66”), then the calculation is: (170/662) x 703 = 27.4
Statistics published in January 2012 by the Centers for Disease Control show that 35.7% of U.S. adults and 16.9% of children are obese. In 2000, no state had an obesity prevalence of 30% or more. In 2009, nine states had an obesity rate of 30% or more and in 2010 this obesity rate has increased to 12 states.
Adult obesity is associated with a number of serious health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. Obese children are more likely to become obese adults. If children are overweight, obesity in adulthood is likely to be more severe.
Obese children are more likely to have:
- High blood pressure and high cholesterol, which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD).
- Increased risk of impaired glucose tolerance, insulin resistance and type 2-diabetes.
- Breathing problems, such as sleep apnea, and asthma.
- Joint problems and musculoskeletal discomfort.
- Fatty liver disease, gallstones, and gastro-esophageal reflux (i.e., heartburn).
- Obese children and adolescents have a greater risk of social and psychological problems, such as discrimination and poor self-esteem, which can continue into adulthood.
It is important for your doctor to evaluate your calorie intake, exercise activities, medical history, and family history in determining how best to manage a weight problem. A comprehensive program of diet and exercise is the first remedy that should be considered to treat obesity. In recent years, a variety of surgical choices for treating obesity have been popularized.
Next, we will discuss the different types of weight loss surgery options and the guidelines used to determine if someone should consider undergoing these procedures.
Written by Dr. Forley on May 16, 2012