What is Obesity?

“Overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health.” World Health Organization

In 2017–2018, the prevalence of obesity was estimated to be:

~ 42% in U.S. adults (≥ 20 years of age)

~ 18.5% of youths (2-19 years of age)

Methods to diagnose Obesity

The methods used to diagnose obesity aim to the health risks associated with excess body weight; metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and risk of mortality, amongst others.

The most reliable clinical measurements are the following:

1. Body Mass Index (BMI)

2. Waist Circumference: normal <40in men, <35in non-pregnant woman

3. Percent body fat (measured best by DXA, skinfold caliper, body fat analyzer, hydrostatic weighing)

Classification of obesity as measured by BMI:

Depending on severity, obesity can be classified into 3 classes based on measuring the body mass index (BMI)

Body mass index (BMI) in kilograms per meters squared (kg/m)

Normal Weight BMI 18.5-24.9
Overweight BMI 25-29.9
Class I Obesity BMI 30-34.9
Class II Obesity BMI 35-39.9
Class III Obesity BMI > 40

Some of the causes of obesity include:

  • Genetics: genetic factors like a strong family history of metabolic diseases or genetic hormone loss or excess can cause obesity.
  • Food intake: Highly processed fast foods, high sugar diet, larger portions and many more factors are directly related to increase the prevalence of obesity.
  • Activity levels: Having a sedentary lifestyle or certain disabilities that limit physical activity can increase obesity risk.
  • Hormone imbalances: like excess cortisol or untreated hypothyroidism can contribute to excess body weight.
  • Certain Medications: Some antidepressants, steroids, antiseizure medications, certain diabetes medications, and beta-blockers can contribute to weight gain. (DO NOT STOP ANY MEDICATIONS WITHOUT CONSULTING YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER.)
  • Sleep disruptions
  • Stress: Stress hormones, boredom, stress eating and fatigue can all complicate the weight gain process.
  • Where you live

Some of the Complications of Obesity Include:

Metabolic changes: caused in part by the chronic inflammation and hormone disturbances that can result from excess body weight and adipose tissue

  • Diabetes Mellitus type 2
  • Coronary artery disease
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Stroke
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Gallostones
  • Kidney disease

Other systems

  • Respiratory disease like asthma
  • Sleep apnea
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Back pain
  • Gout
  • Memory and cognitive decline
  • Infertility (especially in females)
  • Depression and mood changes
  • Cancer risk increases including esophageal, pancreatic, colorectal, breast, uterine and ovarian.