Obesity has become a major health issue in the United States, with almost 37 percent of the population suffering from the condition. Obesity is now regarded as a chronic illness by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the American Medical Association, the American Society of Bariatric Physicians, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, the Endocrine Society, and the American College of Endocrinology, rather than merely an issue of “girth management.”
Obesity is a medical condition in which a person’s weight or body fat levels are too high to be healthy. If a person’s body mass index (BMI) is high, a doctor would typically recommend that they are obese. A person with a BMI equal to or greater than 30 is generally seen as being obese.
But why is obesity considered a major health problem and what can be done to overcome it? We look to investigate that here.
What is Obesity and How Do You Determine It?
Obesity affects almost 40% of the population in the United States. Obese people have an increased risk of developing a variety of significant medical problems. Nearly every area of the body is affected by this health condition, including joints, the brain, bones, blood vessels, gallbladder, liver, and heart.
Obesity does not always cause these issues. However, if you have a family history of one of these diseases, your risk increases. Also, not everyone who is slightly overweight is deemed obese. Instead, a person needs to meet the BMI criteria for obesity to be considered obese.
BMI is a metric that doctors use to determine if a person’s weight is acceptable for their age, gender, and height. It’s determined by multiplying a person’s weight in kg by their height in meters square.
A body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 29.9 suggests that a person is overweight. Obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 or higher. Stage 3 obesity is defined as a BMI of higher than 40, and it was formerly referred to as “morbid obesity.” However, BMI isn’t a perfect measurement because it doesn’t differentiate between lean and fat mass or account for racial or cultural variations.
Waist and neck size, general fitness, and lifestyle are all aspects to consider. Furthermore, the idea that individuals may acquire “sick fat,” or adipose tissue illness (adiposopathy), as coined by Dr. Harold Bays, now makes restoring adipose tissue function a treatment objective.
Obesity is measured differently in kids. Because a child’s body composition changes as they grow older, BMI is calculated as age and gender-specific percentile.
A BMI of 85th percentile or higher but less than 95th percentile in kids and adolescents between ages 2 and 19 implies overweight; a kid with a BMI of 95th percentile or higher is deemed obese.
Now that you have an understanding of how obesity is measured and what qualifies a person as ‘obese’, you may want to know the health risks of being obese, especially if you suspect you have this condition.
The Health Risks of Being Obese
Obesity rates have risen alarmingly in the United States during the last two decades, affecting people of all ages, including children. Obesity affects more than one-third of the adult population and over 15% of kids and adolescents in the country.
Obese kids and adolescents are more likely to acquire health problems that are more generally linked to adults, such as heart disease and type-2 diabetes. In other words, being obese is a major health concern for both adults and children.
Being obese can increase your risk of developing several health conditions, whether you are an adult, a teenager, or a child. Your risk for the following health conditions increases when you are obese.
1. Heart Problems
Your chances of having high cholesterol and blood pressure are greater when you are overweight. Both of these conditions increase the risk of heart disease or stroke. The good news is that even a modest amount of weight loss can lower your risk of heart disease or stroke. It is medically proven that losing more weight significantly reduces the risk of a stroke or heart attack.
2. Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes affects the majority of persons who are obese or overweight. By reducing weight, eating a well-balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and exercising more, you can reduce your risk of developing type-2 diabetes.
Weight loss and a physically active lifestyle can help you manage your blood sugar levels if you develop type-2 diabetes. Getting more active might also help you cut down on your diabetic medication.
3. Compromised Mental Health
They do not make the headlines often, but the mental health effects of obesity deserve as much attention as the physical effects of the condition. It is because obesity is often linked to issues with body image, poor self-esteem, and depression. A person suffering from these conditions needs help and professional assistance immediately. Remember, a healthy mind is a healthy body!
4. Respiratory Issues
Fat deposits around the neck can narrow the airway, making breathing hard during the night. It is referred to as sleep apnea. In those with sleep apnea, the oxygen supply may cease for brief periods.
5. Problems with the Digestive System
Obesity has been linked to an increased risk of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). When stomach acid seeps into the esophagus, individuals may develop GERD. Obesity also raises the chances of gallstones forming.
When bile piles up in the gallbladder, it hardens. It might necessitate surgery. Interestingly, weight reduction, especially quick weight loss or a substantial amount of weight loss, might increase your risk of gallstones. Gallstones are less likely to form if you lose weight at a rate of around one pound each week. Fat can also accumulate around the liver, causing inflammation, scarring, and even liver failure.
6. Skeletal and Muscular Issues
Obesity can lead to a loss of bone density and muscle mass. Osteosarcopenic obesity is the term for this condition. Cracks, physical impairment, insulin resistance, and generally poor health outcomes are all risks associated with osteosarcopenic obesity. Extra weight can place undue strain on the joints, causing discomfort and stiffness.
7. Problems with Reproduction
Obesity might make becoming pregnant harder for a woman. It can also elevate a woman’s chances of experiencing major pregnancy complications.
8. Cancer Risk
Obesity has been associated with colon cancer, as well as post-menopause breast, endometrial (uterine lining), kidney, and esophagus cancers. Obesity has also been linked to malignancies of the pancreas, ovaries, and gallbladder in some studies.
As seen above, obesity has an impact on almost every part of the body. Most of these risk factors can be treated or managed with a mix of diet, exercise, and lifestyle modifications if you have obesity.
For instance, If you lose just 5 to 10% of your existing weight, you can lower your risk of developing many health problems. Some of the ways you can manage or treat your obesity are discussed next. At least one of them is bound to work for you.
How to Overcome Your Obesity
The major health risks of obesity are known to most people today. What is less well known is that the probability of these health issues begins when a person is just slightly overweight and that this probability grows as a person’s weight increases. People and families suffer for a long time from many of these diseases. Furthermore, the healthcare costs can be quite high.
The good news is that becoming overweight or obese is largely avoidable. The key to success is to find a balance between calories taken and calories expended. You can reach this goal by using the following strategies for minimizing or even overcoming your obesity problem.
1. Healthier Eating Habits
If you are consuming more calories than you expend, fat is likely to build up in your body to cause weight gain over time.
Some foods are more likely to cause weight gain than others. High-fructose corn syrup, for example, is found in several processed foods. It can lead to physical changes in the body, which can lead to more weight gain.
Reduced consumption of high-sugar, high-fat processed, enriched, and ready-made meals, as well as increased intake of whole grains and other foods rich in fiber, such as fresh vegetables and fruits, can aid weight loss.
A high-fiber diet helps the body feel fuller faster, making it less enticing to consume more. Since whole grains deliver their energy more slowly, they help people feel fuller for longer.
Whole grains and fiber can also assist in lowering the risk of metabolic syndrome-related diseases. Metabolic syndrome is a category of health issues that includes heart problems, high blood pressure, and type-2 diabetes. Obese persons are more likely to have it than healthier individuals.
2. Physical Activity
A physically active lifestyle is one of the best ways to overcome obesity. When you are physically active, you are less likely to gain weight, reducing your risk of becoming obese. In the same way, being more physically active can help you reduce weight, which can help you control your obesity or overcome it.
Some of the ways you can be physically active include:
- Jogging or brisk walking for an hour every day
- Using the stairs at work or your home (if you live in an apartment building)
- Doing chores/housework more regularly
- Walking your dog
All of these things can help you to lose weight or keep it under control. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends performing 60–90 minutes of moderately strenuous activity for 4 to 5 days a week.
People who do not exercise often or find it hard to be active due to health or mobility issues should get advice from a health expert on how to be physically active. A person who is not used to exercising should not begin with vigorous exercise, as this might be harmful to their health.
3. Weight Management Programs
Some people benefit from a planned weight-loss program. In a weight-loss program, experienced weight-loss specialists will create a customized program for you and assist you in sticking to it. A lower-calorie diet, greater physical exercise, and strategies to help you alter and maintain your habits are all part of the plan.
4. Weight-Loss Medications
If eating healthier or being physically active does not get the desired results, your primary healthcare provider may put you on medications to help you lose weight and overcome obesity. While using weight-loss medications, you should strive to maintain your healthy eating habits and perform regular physical exercise.
You may come across advertisements for herbal treatments and dietary supplements that promise to aid weight loss. However, many of these assertions are false. A few of these supplements have potentially harmful adverse effects. So, before using any over-the-counter herbal treatments or nutritional supplements to help you lose weight, consult your doctor or a weight-loss expert.
5. Bariatric Surgery
If all else fails, you may want to consider bariatric or weight-loss surgery to overcome your obesity. It entails removing or altering a section of an individual’s stomach or small intestine so that they ingest less food and absorb fewer calories.
It can help a person lose weight while also lowering their risk of type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and other metabolic syndrome symptoms that might arise due to obesity.
As seen above, obesity or excessive weight gain can lead to a host of health problems. The good news is that obesity is strongly connected to behaviors we can change, such as the foods we eat and how much exercise we do.
Those concerned about their weight can get help from Alabama Bariatrics. In most situations, a change in diet and more activity will do the trick. If that does not work, we may recommend alternative solutions to overcome your obesity, including weight loss or surgery. You can get in touch with us today to find out more!