Obesity is essentially excess body fat. Since it’s difficult to measure body fat directly, obesity is typically measured by BMI (Body Mass Index). This is the common scientific method of screening whether a person is under-weight, has normal weight, and is overweight/obese.
Healthy Weight & BMI
BMI measures a person’s weight in relation to his/her height. Though it is not 100% accurate in indicating obesity, it proves to be a very valuable tool to judge whether a person is overweight or not.
- Adults who have a BMI between 18.5 &24.9 have normal weight
- Those with a BMI between 25.0 & 29.9 are overweight
- People with a BMI of 30/more are considered to be obese
- Individuals with a BMI of 40/more are considered to be extremely obese
With reference to children & adolescents, these particular BMI categories are also divided by sex & age. This is primarily because of the physical changes that take place during growth & development.
Health risks of Obesity
If you’re obese/overweight, you may:
- Feel very tired
- Feel that you are lacking in energy
- Experience shortness of breath while moving around
- May not be able to cope with very sudden bursts of any physical activity such as running across a road
- You may sweat excessively in comparison to other people
- Have difficulty sleeping
- Develop skin irritation
- Snore loudly while you are asleep
- Experience back & joint pains that can affect mobility
- Type 2 diabetes
- Impaired glucose tolerance (pre-diabetes)
- High cholesterol/triglyceride levels
- Coronary heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Sleep apnoea
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Fertility problems
- Complications in pregnancy (preterm labour, caesarean section etc)
- Stress incontinence
- Heartburn (gastro-oesophageal reflux)
- Fatty liver
- Cancers (colon/breast/endometrial cancer)
- Chronic kidney disease
- Difficulty maintaining an erection (erectile dysfunction).
In addition to the range of physical problems that obese people can develop, their obesity may also result in psychological problems such as:
- Poor self image
- Low self-esteem
- Low confidence
- Feelings of isolation
These feelings can impact their relationships with friends & family members. In severe cases, these feelings can also lead to depression. Obesity affects a person’s overall life expectancy and he/she is more likely to die early.
- An analysis of a number of relevant studies in 2014 has shown that a person who has a BMI of 35/more is also more likely to die sooner
- Other studies have shown that a 40-year-old woman who has a BMI of 30/more is more likely to die 7.1-years earlier than the average age
- A 40-year-old man with a BMI of 30/more is more likely to die 5.8-years earlier than the average age. If the person is also a smoker, his life expectancy gets reduced even further
Improving the Quality of Life
It is not very easy to measure exactly to what extent the quality of a person’s life is improved if he/she loses some weight. But most people who shed those kilos feel better, and they are also more energetic. Many people start feeling more confident and their self-esteem increases. There is no refuting the fact that there are also a number of health benefits to losing weight. As stated above, obese people are at risk of a number of diseases and the minute an obese person starts losing weight, he or she is less likely to develop these diseases.
A Positive Impact
If your Body Mass Index is between 25 & 35, on an average, if you bring down your weight by 10%, you automatically bring down the risk of developing conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and osteoarthritis. If you are already suffering from any of these conditions, when you start reducing your weight, there will be a distinct improvement in your condition.
Obesity is not a disease that can be taken lightly and it can also be very challenging to get rid of all those excess kilos that you have piled on. But making certain lifestyle changes, improving food habits and adding exercise to your daily routine can go a long way in reducing obesity.