Obesity is related to excess body fat, which is not always the same as being overweight. A person can weigh more than what is considered healthy for their height due to the existence of muscle tissue or extra water, being obese only when that excess is fat
Obesity is usually measured by the body mass index, or BMI, whose formula includes weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. For example, a 1.70m tall person weighing 65kg would have a BMI of 22.5 (60/1.72). Weight is considered normal when the BMI is less than 25 and overweight when the BMI is between 25 and 30. When it is greater than 30 it is called obesity and if it is greater than 40 it is classified as morbid obesity.
What are the causes of obesity?
There are many causes involved in the onset of obesity. On the one hand, it is necessary to take into account life habits, among which poor nutrition, a sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical exercise influence. Likewise, it is necessary to take into consideration the genetic and organic factors that induce its appearance, especially among women. Finally, the influence of socioeconomic factors must also be considered.
Diseases and symptoms associated with obesity
Obesity has become, after smoking, the second cause of avoidable mortality, and there are also many diseases associated with it: type 2 diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, ischemic heart disease, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis…
It is even related to the increased risk of some types of cancer and it is estimated that in the case of morbid obesity it can reduce life expectancy by between 6 and 14 years.
Fat buildup under the diaphragm and on the chest wall can also put pressure on the lungs, causing shortness of breath and choking, even with minimal exertion. It can, on the other hand, cause various orthopedic problems, including lower back pain and aggravation of osteoarthritis, especially in the hips, knees, and ankles.
Skin disorders are likewise particularly common in people with obesity. Because obese people have a small body surface area relative to their weight, they can’t remove heat from the body efficiently, so they sweat more.
On the other hand, as a consequence of the prejudices and discrimination that people with obesity often suffer, psychological disorders and low self-esteem are often associated with this problem.
How is obesity diagnosed?
The doctor will perform a physical exam and ask questions about your medical history, eating habits, and exercise routine.
The two most common ways to assess weight and assess weight-related health risks are body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference measurement.
A growing problem
In recent years, the prevalence of obesity and associated metabolic diseases has increased very significantly in Western societies, calculating that by 2030 a third of the world’s population could suffer from it.
The World Health Organization already considers it a long-term chronic disease that in the Basque Country is estimated to be suffered by approximately 15% of the population, this proportion increasing with age (20% of Basques over 65 are obese ) although it has grown notably among younger women and men.
If there is one thing that all information sources agree on, it is that obesity has a reason: overeating.
Well, let’s go by parts. Food is something that is not simply measured by weight, size, or taste. To control weight, it is important to understand that each food has a number of calories. These calories are our fuel to do everything we have to do during the day.
So you may not notice it, but if you eat 3 units of a filled cookie, you’re taking in 140 calories. With these same 140 calories, you could eat a roasted chicken leg, a much more nutritious option. A can of condensed milk provides an incredible 1,280 calories, which is equivalent to a whole day of light meals for those seeking weight loss diets.
The most important rule is that the amount of calories is balanced with the amount of energy consumed during the day. That is, if you consume 2,500 calories a day, but spend only 1,500, those thousand kilocalories more will be transformed into fat, a natural mechanism of our body to accumulate energy, as a prevention in case one day it runs out.
There is a misperception that obesity is associated with a sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical activity.
Genetic predisposition, family history of weight gain, slower metabolism, and hormonal changes can also be causes of obesity.
In addition to these predisposing factors, there are also psychological problems that can cause compulsive binge eating. High levels of stress, painful breakups, family loss, and other factors can also be triggers for this process.