Obesity is a medical condition in which a person has excess body fat. Obesity isn’t just a cosmetic concern. It increases your risk of health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain cancers. 

People with obesity are also more likely to have sleep apnea, fatty liver disease, and osteoarthritis. Obesity occurs over time when you eat more calories than you use. The balance between calories-in and calories-out differs for each person. Factors that might affect your weight include your genetic makeup, overeating, eating high-fat foods, and not being physically active.

Who is affected by Obesity?

The most recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) found that more than one-third of U.S. adults are obese. The prevalence of obesity was highest among adults ages 40-59 and lowest among adults aged 20-39.  Obesity rates were also slightly higher among women than men and among African-American and Hispanic adults than Caucasian adults. The NHANES data also showed that the prevalence of obesity increased with age, from 5.0 percent among adults aged 20-39 to 41.8 percent among adults aged 60 and older.

Who is at risk for Obesity?

Obesity is one of the most preventable causes of death worldwide. Some risk factors for developing obesity include:

  • Diet and physical activity are major risk factors for obesity. Energy-dense foods high in fat and sugar can lead to weight gain, as can eating large portions. 

  • A sedentary lifestyle can lead to weight gain. physical activity helps to burn calories and keep weight under control. 

  • Family history and hormones: Obesity is influenced by genetics and hormones. People with a family history of obesity and certain medical conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome, are at higher risk for obesity. 

  • Smoking

  • Alcohol and other beverages: Drinking liquids with a high-calorie count can lead to a caloric surplus that can cause weight gain.

  • Insufficient sleep

  • Stress can lead to cravings for high-calorie foods

  • Certain medications: steroids, some anti-depressants, antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, beta-blockers, and medications to treat diabetes have been associated with weight gain.

What are the signs and symptoms of Obesity?

Obesity is not just a cosmetic problem. It is a medical problem that increases your risk of other diseases and health conditions. Some of the health conditions associated with obesity include:

  • Type 2 diabetes

  • Heart disease

  • Stroke

  • Sleep apnea

  • Digestive problems

  • Gynecological and sexual problems

  • Certain types of cancer

  • Joint problems and osteoarthritis

  • Depression

The good news is that even modest weight loss can improve or prevent the health conditions associated with obesity. If you are obese, talk to your doctor about ways to safely lose weight and improve your health.

How is Obesity diagnosed?

Obesity is a complex condition that is often caused by a variety of factors. Although body mass index (BMI) is the most common way to diagnose obesity, it does not always provide an accurate representation of a person’s health.  In some cases, people with a high BMI may be healthy, while people with a normal BMI may be obese. Waist circumference and body fat percentage are two other measurements that can be used to diagnose obesity. Men with a waist circumference of more than 40 inches (102 cm), or women greater than 35 inches, are at an increased risk for obesity-related health problems.  Those with a body fat percentage of more than 30% are also considered obese.

What Prescription Medications Treat Obesity?

There are a number of effective treatments available for those who are struggling with obesity. One option is a prescription medication. In some cases, such as when patients have a medical condition that makes it difficult to lose weight, prescription drugs can be an important part of treatment.  However, it is important to remember that medication is only one piece of the puzzle. In most cases, obesity treatment should also include lifestyle changes, such as healthy eating and regular exercise. By taking a comprehensive approach to treatment, patients can achieve long-term success in their battle against obesity.

How can I manage my Obesity with a Healthy Lifestyle?

Although there is no single cause of obesity, it is often the result of a combination of lifestyle factors. Oftentimes, these factors can be divided into two categories: those that contribute to a healthy diet (calorie consumption), and those that contribute to physical inactivity. To address obesity, it is necessary to make changes in both areas. In terms of a healthy diet, one of the most important things to do is to eat more fruits and vegetables. These foods are not only low in calories but they are also packed with nutrients that are essential for good health. In addition, it is important to limit the consumption of processed foods, sugary drinks, and alcohol. These products tend to be high in calories and low in nutritional value. Physical activity is also critical for weight loss. Although some people are able to lose weight by dieting alone, research has shown that exercise is essential for long-term success. Exercise helps to burn calories and also helps to build muscle mass, which can help to increase metabolism. Furthermore, regular exercise has been shown to have numerous health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Obesity woman stepping on scale

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