What is Obesity?

Obesity is characterized as an accumulation of excessive amounts of body fat. This can increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Obesity can be caused by different factors including genetic conditions, or genetic makeup such as how efficiently the body converts food into energy or where these fats are accumulated. Consumption of high caloric foods and even certain medications can lead to weight gain. Endocrine disorders such as hypothyroidism, chushing’s syndrome, and polycistic ovarian syndrome can also cause overweight and obesity. 

What are the signs, symptoms, and complications of Obesity?

  • High Blood pressure: due to excessive fat, more blood is required to circulate to the fat tissue. Since more blood is being pumped throughout the body, it creates pressure on the walls of the arteries which elevates the blood pressure. 
  • Type 2 diabetes: obesity makes the body resistant to insulin, which is the hormone in charge of regulating blood glucose. When the body is resistant to this, diabetes occurs. 
  • Joint problems: extra weight puts too much pressure on the joints which damages them. 
  • Sleep apnea: increase weight puts pressure in airways

For more health effects of obesity visit the John Hopkins website

How to screen and prevent Obesity?

Screening for obesity is usually done during every doctor’s visit. This is done by taking your weight and height which can be used to calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI). This is a calculation that predicts body fat. The best way to prevent obesity whether you are predisposed or not is to maintain a balanced lifestyle. The most common recommendations are as follows:

  • Exercise regularly: according to the Mayo Clinic, it is recommended to get between 3 to 5 hours of moderate-intensity physical activity a week. This can be achieved by fast walking around the block. You can also follow videos like this one
  • Maintain a healthy diet: avoid saturated fats such as fatty cuts of beef or high-fat dairy products. Focus on low-calorie foods such as fruits and vegetables which are also filled with nutrients. Limit the amounts of sweets and try to maintain a regular schedule for eating, such as eating 3 regular meals during the day plus a small snack if necessary. 
  • Monitor your wait: monitoring the weight at least once a week helps to stay focused on goals as well as working as a positive reinforcement to keep the good habits. 

How is Obesity diagnosed?

Obesity is diagnosed based on BMI as well as physical history and physical exams. 

BMIWeight status

How is Obesity treated? 

Treatments vary based on the cause of obesity. It is recommended to start with lifestyle modifications such as a healthy diet and active physical activity. Some medications and possible surgeries can be used. Your primary health provider might refer you to a Bariatric physician for further workup. Examples of bariatric surgeries can be found here.

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