Obesity is a condition characterized by the build up of excessive body fat. Obesity is defined differently depending on the country, but in Western countries, such as the U.S. and many European countries, obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg/m^2.
A BMI is calculated by taking a person's weight (in kilograms) and dividing it by the square of their height (in meters). Using the BMI, doctors may classify someone as underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese. Obesity is further broken down into three categories. First, obesity I is measured as a BMI of 30-34.99 kg/m^2, obesity II is 35-39.99 kg/m^2, and obesity III is a BMI greater than 40 kg/m^2. It is important to note that these values are only recognized for adults (18+ years old). In adolescents, different scales are used based on a number of factors.
There are many potential causes for obesity such as environmental, genetic, or both. Contributing factors that may lead to obesity include a poor diet, little or no exercise, infections, and certain genetic conditions. Other contributing factors may include some social determinants such as socioeconomic class and geographic location. In any case, obesity can lead to serious health problems, including a lower life expectancy. On average, obesity can reduce an individual's life expectancy by six to seven years. Obesity may also lead to an increased risk for many conditions including type II diabetes, heart diseases, stroke, many cancers, gastrointestinal conditions, abnormal or poor breathing, depression, and more.
Generally, obesity is treated with certain lifestyle changes such as diet plans and making exercise routines. Medications and surgeries may also be an option depending on the cause of the obesity, its severity, and the individual's choices. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with obesity, contact your doctor to discuss the most current treatment options.