Obesity is a condition in which a person has excess body fat. It is different from being overweight, which means weighing too much. The weight may come from muscle, bone, fat, and/or body water. Both terms mean that a person’s weight is greater than what’s considered healthy for his or her height.
However, obesity is more than just a number on a scale or the size of someone’s body. Because obesity can increase a person’s risk of diseases and health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea and heart disease.
Because of these risks, it is important to lose weight even if you don’t feel bad now. It is hard to change eating habits and exercise habits. But you can do it if you make a plan.
The prevalence of obesity across the world continues to rise. It is now recognized as one of the most important public health problems facing the world today. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 40% of adults in the U.S. are obese.
What causes obesity?
There are genetic, behavioral and hormonal influences on body weight. But when you take in more calories than you burn off, you gain weight. How you eat, how active you are, and other things affect how your body uses calories and whether you gain weight.
If your family members are obese, you may have inherited a tendency to gain weight. And your family also helps form your eating and lifestyle habits, which can lead to obesity.
In addition, certain medical conditions such as binge eating disorder (BED), Cushing’s syndrome can also lead to weight gain and obesity. BED is an eating disorder where a person has recurrent episodes of binge eating. During these episodes, the individual eats a large amount of food quickly and feels a lack of control over this eating.
Also according to the Mayo Clinic, our busy lives make it harder to plan and cook healthy meals. For many of us, it’s easier to reach for prepared foods or go out to eat. But these foods are often high in saturated fat and calories. Portions are often too large. Work schedules and other commitments also cut into the time we have for physical activity.
How to diagnose obesity
Your general appearance gives you an idea if you are obese or not. Using your Body Mass Index (BMI) a weight over 30kg implies obesity. Excessive skin folds at certain parts of your body such as waist and hip clearly indicates obesity. In women, a waist size of 88 cm (35 in.) or more raises the chance for disease. In men, a waist size of 102 cm (40 in.) or more raises the chance for disease.
Tests are available to estimate your body fat percentage (to find out about how much of your weight is fat). This is different from your BMI. With some of these tests, you may also learn your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Knowing your BMR can help your doctor or registered dietitian plan how many calories you need each day.
Other laboratory tests that can be run includes; lipid profile, random and fasting blood sugar.
Risk for diseases
If you are obese and have unhealthy eating or activity habits, you have a higher risk for gallstones, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides, heart disease, a stroke and sleep apnea, among other conditions.
You need to different types of health professionals to achieve a healthy weight and adopt healthier eating habits. These includes a dietitian, behavioral therapist, exercise physiologist and obesity expert, according to the Mayo Clinic. Working with a diverse team of health experts can help people make long-term changes in their eating and exercise habits. They also help to develop strategies to address any emotional and behavioral issues that may lead to weight gain and unhealthy lifestyle habits.
Although there are lots of fad diets, such short-term dietary changes are not the best way to keep weight off permanently, the CDC says. Instead, people should aim to make long-term changes, such as eating healthy on a regular basis, and boosting daily physical activity. Behavior changes, such as understanding what stresses or situations may contribute to overeating. Therefore, learning to modify these behaviors, are also important for achieving weight-loss goals.
Even small amounts of weight loss such as 5 to 10% of your total body weight can have health benefits, the CDC says. These benefits include improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood sugars.
Weight-loss surgery & medications
Severely obese people whose did not lose weight through diet and exercise, other treatments, such as bariatric surgery, may be an option. Bariatric surgery an operation to make the stomach smaller. This is recommended for people with a BMI of 40 or more. It is also ideal if you have a serious health problem related to your obesity and have a BMI of 35 or more.
Other treatment options for obesity include certain prescription and over-the-counter medications. These medicines curb appetite. However, they can cause side effects such as cramping, diarrhea, headaches, dizziness and nausea, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Moreover, you should use weight loss medication along with diet and exercise. This is more effective in losing weight.
How do I lose weight and also prevent myself from becoming obese?
Whether you’re at risk of becoming obese, currently overweight or at a healthy weight, you can take steps to prevent unhealthy weight gain and related health problems. Not surprisingly, the steps to prevent weight gain are the same as the steps to lose weight. According to the CDC, here are some tips that may help you lose weight successfully:
Exercise regularly and also follow a healthy eating plan. Focus on low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Avoid saturated fat and limit sweets and alcohol. Eat three regular meals a day with limited snacking. You can still enjoy small amounts of high-fat, high-calorie foods as an infrequent treat. Just be sure to choose foods that promote a healthy weight and good health most of the time.
Know and avoid the food traps that cause you to eat. Identify situations that trigger out-of-control eating. Try keeping a journal and write down what you eat, how much you eat, when you eat, how you’re feeling and how hungry you are. After a while, you should see patterns emerge. You can plan ahead and develop strategies for handling these types of situations and stay in control of your eating behaviors.
Monitor your weight regularly. People who weigh themselves at least once a week are more successful in keeping off excess pounds. Monitoring your weight can tell you whether your efforts are working. They can help you detect small weight gains before they become big problems.
Be consistent. Sticking to your healthy-weight plan during the week, on the weekends, and amidst vacation and holidays as much as possible increases your chances of long-term success.