Characteristics of obesity

What is obesity?

Characteristics of obesity

Excessive accumulation of fat, which causes obesity, occurs in men mainly in the abdominal area

Obesity is a metabolic disorder consisting of a body overweight caused by accumulation of fatty tissue.

People with obesity are more likely to suffer from certain health problems such as metabolic diseases (diabetes,…), cardiovascular diseases (hypertension, cholesterol,…), respiratory diseases (apnea,…), etc.

Pre-existing conditions such as fibromyalgia, fatigue, or arthritis can be aggravated with obesity.

* See What is your ideal weight?

Obesity problem in the world

Obesity is an increasingly prevalent health problem in many societies around the world, both in rich and poor societies.

Over the past 30 years, obesity around the world has almost doubled. 9.8% of all men in the world are obese (about 205 million) and 13.8% of women worldwide are obese (297 million). Some 1.460 million men and women around the world are overweight.

Symptoms and consequences of obesity

Many times obesity is accompanied by bad eating habits such as eating too fast, with television, industrial or fried foods, not chewing, etc.

Obesity is seen with the naked eye by the physical aspect of the person who suffers it, characterized by a disproportionate increase in body fat mass. However, there are a series of symptoms that inform us if we hide in a situation of being overweight or obese. Among the most important we have the following:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Fatigue with little effort
  • Excessive thirst sensation
  • Difficulty at dressing or wearing
  • Problems to do certain jobs that were previously affordable
  • Stretch marks
  • buffalo-neck
  • Acanthosis nigricans
  • Sleep apnea
  • Etc.

How do you know if your weight is the ideal weight?

To calculate the ideal weight we use the “The body mass index (BMI)”, invented by the Belgian Adolphe Quetelet between 1830 and 1850. It consists on a series of calculations in which our body weight is divided by the square of our height.

More information about how to apply this method in ” The ideal weight” of the above listing.

Causes of Obesity: Why Do We Get Fat?

The main causes of obesity are:

  • woman
    Photo of woman buying vegetables at a market. A correct diet should include at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

    Nutritional education: Most obese people have a diet too rich in calories for their energy needs.

Reduced intake of natural foods and increased consumption of industrial products (bakery, cookies, sugary cereals, sweets, snacks, chips, fritters, sugary drinks, etc.) is one of the causes of the epidemic of obesity. Children whose mothers worked during this time had higher rates of obesity. This is probably because mothers or fathers who worked did not have as much time to buy and prepare healthy food and provide their children with quick meals with many more fats and calories.

  • Inadequate diets: Having bad eating habits is aggravated by trying to correct this tendency with bad eating habits, the use of miracle diets, too low calorie diets…

In addition, most of these types of unbalanced diets entail a yo-yo or rebound effect, that is, people recover more pounds than they lost, after the diet.

The consumption of light foods (with artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose or saccharine) may favor the appearance of obesity.

  • Sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise: It involves burning fewer calories and, therefore, it contributes to increase obesity. It is recommended to walk 1 hour a day.
  • Anxiety for food: Stress or anxiety produces a convulsive need to ingest food above our caloric needs.

Particularly interesting is the fact that a person who quits smoking usually averages between 2 and 4 kilos as a result of the anxiety that causes the abandonment of tobacco and that leads to a series of negative eating habits. (More information: Quit smoking?)

  • Genetic inheritance: Some people have a tendency to gain weight due to genetic causes. Some genetic abnormalities may be responsible for certain cases of obesity.

For example, Paolo Gasparini, a geneticist, thinks that the deficiency of some people in appreciating the bitter taste leads to the ingestion of stronger products that lead to an increase in weight (bitter chocolate, strong beer, liver,, etc). According to this specialist, the problems to detect this flavor are due to a genetic mutation that affects a third of the inhabitants of Europe.

Cushing’s syndrome: Certain diseases, such as Cushing’s syndrome, for example, can trigger or promote obesity.

Consequences of obesity

woman riding a bicycle
Photo of woman riding a bicycle. Having a non-sedentary life helps avoid obesity

Obesity predisposes the appearance of a series of physical ailments that make the obese individual to have a life expectancy below 10 years or more in respect to non-obese individuals. The most common diseases associated with obesity are:

  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension.
  • Colon or pancreas cancer
  • Kidney Diseases.
  • Gout.
  • Prostatitis.
  • Varicosis.
  • Cardiovascular problems

Treatment of obesity

The change in eating habits is the best way to treat obesity.

There are many factors that can help fight obesity:

  • Changing eating habits (replacement of high-calorie foods with lower calorie foods)
  • Appropriate dietary study: Professional advice by a qualified nutritionist or dietitian
  • Usual practice of some kind of physical activity, etc. Professional counseling by a physiotherapist
  • Psychological or psychiatric treatment if required

punto rojo More information about obesity

This article was endorsed by Errachid El Fadel - Medical intern at University Hospital IBN Rochd Casablanca
Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

9 February, 2024

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