What is obesity?

What is obesity?
Highlights

What is obesity? Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have a negative effect on health, leading to reduced life expectancy and/or increased health problems.

Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have a negative effect on health, leading to reduced life expectancy and/or increased health problems. Today, it has assumed epidemic proportions.

In Western countries, people are considered obese when their body mass index (BMI), a measurement obtained by dividing a person's weight by the square of the person's height, exceeds 30 kg/m2, with the range 25-30 kg/m2 defined as overweight. Some East Asian countries use stricter criteria.

Obesity increases the likelihood of various diseases, particularly heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, certain types of cancer, andosteoarthritis.

Obesity is most commonly caused by a combination of excessive food energy intake, lack of physical activity, and genetic susceptibility, although a few cases are caused primarily by genes, medications, or psychiatric illness. Evidence to support the view that some obese people eat little yet gain weight due to a slow metabolism is limited. On average, obese people have greater energy expenditure than their thin counterparts due to the energy required to maintain an increased body mass.

Dieting and exercising are the main treatments for obesity. With a suitable diet, anti-obesity drugs may be taken to reduce appetite or decrease fat absorption. Obesity is a leading preventable cause of death worldwide, with increasing rates in adults and children. Authorities view it as one of the most serious public health problems of the 21st century. Obesity is stigmatized in much of the modern world (particularly in the Western world), though it was widely seen as a symbol of wealth and fertility at other times in history and still is in some parts of the world. In 2013, the American Medical Association classified obesity as a disease.

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