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Obesity is a state of severe overweight, which is a danger to health. Obesity occurs when more energy is ingested by food and drinks than is consumed by physical activity. This leads to excessive fat accumulation. A person with obesity is also called an ‘obese’.
Obesity is caused by a disrupted energy balance and is generally the result of a combination of factors. Several possible factors are:
- High-energy diet.
- Poor physical activity and sedentary lifestyle.
- Underlying disease (for example Cushing’s disease).
- Eating diseases, such as binge eating disorder.
- Increased amount of carbohydrates in the diet, particularly fructose.
- Poor sleep.
- Genetic predisposition.
Obesity is associated with various physical and psychological symptoms. The following common signs and symptoms may occur:
- High cholesterol.
- High blood pressure.
- Cardiovascular diseases.
- Sleep apnea.
- Infertility (in both women and men).
- Back pain.
- Acid reflux.
Based on the symptoms, the diagnosis of obesity can be suspected. By calculating the body mass index (BMI) and measuring the waist size, it can be determined whether there is obesity. Obese people have a BMI of 30 or higher and a waist size of more than 102 centimeters (men) and more than 88 centimeters (women).
The treatment of obesity is largely based on the two pillars of an energy-restricted diet and increased exercise. In addition, medication and surgery can also be applied:
- Change of lifestyle. The aim is to have a limited weight loss. Although diet programs lead to weight loss in the short term, it is often difficult to maintain this weight loss. Therefore, it’s necessary to make exercising and less eating a permanent part of a person’s lifestyle.
- Medication. There are several drugs which are prescribed for obesity. These drugs, however, have side effects.
- Bariatric surgery is used to reduce the stomach capacity (less food intake) and/or the length of the intestine (less food absorption). This can be achieved, for example, by closing a portion of the stomach (stomach reduction), by placing an inflatable balloon in the stomach or by removing a portion of the intestine (gastric bypass). Surgery for severe obesity leads to long-term weight loss and lower mortality, but is only suitable for people whose obesity causes substantial risks.
- Treatments applied in children, are mainly influencing lifestyle and techniques to change behaviour.
Obesity contributes significantly to various diseases, including type 2 diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Therefore, obesity shortens life expectancy. Obesity is worldwide one of the leading preventable causes of death.
- When people are suffering from obesity, it's important to do something about it. A diet that contains less calories helps to lose weight.
- One may well lose weight in a healthy way by choosing a varied diet, drinking little alcohol and doing more exercise.
- In order to remain on weight, it's necessary to keep monitoring the amount of calories that are ingested. An average man needs 2500 kilocalories every day, a woman 2000.
- Don’t eat all day long. In case of a sudden appetite, drink a glass of water or take a piece of fruit.
- The Latin word obesitas means ‘fat, ‘thick’ or ‘chubby’.
- The prevalence of obesity in Western countries is 10%.
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