Obesity - and its health effect

Obesity leads to serious issues more than simple weight gain. Having a high ratio of body fat to muscle puts strain on your bones as well as your internal organs. It also increases inflammation in the body, it is thought to be a risk factor for some cancer. Obesity is also a major cause of type 2 diabetes.

What is obesity

It can be described as the abnormal and excessive accumulation of fat in the body. It is known to be a major health risk for many illnesses including diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, cardiovascular (heart) disease and certain cancers.
It is diagnosed when an individual’s body mass index (BMI) is 30 or more. An overweight person is also involved when discussing obesity and a person is regarded overweight when his/her BMI is 25 or more.

Causes/Risk factors of obesity

  • Heredity: (obesity runs in families as it can be a function of genes, eating habits and activity patterns)
  • Unhealthy diet: eating habits of having meals high in calories, having low amounts of vegetables and fruits, sugared soft drinks, alcohol and in large portions is a major cause or contributing factor.

  • Inactivity/ Sedentary lifestyle: this leads to having or taking more calories than one burns and can result in obesity.
  • Age: this affects our hormones and levels of activity and can result in weight gain.
  • Pregnancy: there is usually weight gain during pregnancy which can later develop into obesity if not checked.
  • Certain medications: medications such as steroids, antidepressants, antipsychotic medications, among others can lead to weight gain.
  • Stress: this can affect your eating habits and result in excess weight gain.
  • Lack of sleep: this leads to changes in hormonal levels and increase one’s appetite for high-calorie foods.

What are the symptoms of obesity

  • Having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. 
To calculate one’s BMI, divide your weight in kilograms by the square of your height in metres.
Mayo clinic.com

Health complications of obesity

Obesity has been linked to many health complications, some of which are life-threatening: this includes the following

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease and stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Certain cancers (breast, colon, and endometrial)
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Fatty liver disease
  • High cholesterol
  • Sleep apnea and other breathing problems
  • Arthritis
  • Infertility

How to prevent obesity

  • Regular exercise
  • Healthy eating: this involves eating more foods rich in nutrients, low in calorie such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Avoid foods rich in saturated and trans fat, processed foods, added sugars and alcohol. Also avoid foods that trigger eating out of control.
  • Maintain a healthy weight: check your weight regularly and shed excess weight.

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