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Obesity: What you need to know

What defines obesity?

Obesity is generally defined using a body mass index score, known as a BMI. This uses your height to determine your ideal weight and scores you on where you fall on the scale - anything above 25 is considered overweight. However, the BMI scale has come under fire for being an inaccurate measurement of appropriate weight, with detractors arguing that this does not take into account muscle gain or body shape, and it's not advised to use this as a sole measurement of health.

What causes it?

Obesity develops gradually, and is caused by a number of different factors, including but not limited to:

Consuming more calories than one is using. This is particularly prevalent in societies where a wide range of food is readily available and people tend to eat more sugars.

Living a sedentary lifestyle. Again, this is more common in developed and developing countries, where most jobs are carried out sitting down and public transport is used instead of walking.

Genetic conditions, such as a slow metabolism.

Other medical conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome.

Is it dangerous?

Obesity is linked to a number of long-term problems, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. This is because the arteries are under more strain, and both can lead to heart disease and stroke if the body is not looked after. Type 2 diabetes is also linked to obesity, with over half of all cases being directly attributed to a high BMI.

Popular social stigma associates weight with health, a phenomenon which in itself is harmful to those who are overweight. People can often develop low self-esteem and a feeling of isolation, and mental health issues such as depression can occur - which in turn can exacerbate the issue. Modern "body-positive" movements have tackled this side of living with obesity by creating a culture of self-acceptance, encouraging people to appreciate and look after their bodies more at every size. They also create a supportive community and foster a positive attitude which aids mental wellbeing and counters the stigma that many obese people face.

To learn more about the treatment of obesity, take a look at thedifferent options outlined by the NHS. Calorie-controlled diets are considered the most effective, but a doctor may be able to recommend other methods.

Resources:

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Obesity/Pages/Introduction.aspx

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_mass_index#Limitations_and_shortcomings

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