What is Obesity?
Obesity is defined as having body fat in excess.
A person is not considered obese until his or her weight has reached 20% or more above what is considered a normal weight. Body Mass Index (BMI) is the most common and reliable measure of obesity in the United States today.
There are different measures of overweight and obesity. An individual is classified as being at a healthy weight with a BMI of 24 or below. An individual is considered overweight on an obesity chart if his or her BMI is between 25 and 29.9, while a person is classified as obese if his or her BMI exceeds 30.
The term “morbid obesity” is used to describe someone who is between 50% and 100% over what is considered a normal weight. Morbidly obese can mean being more than 100 pounds overweight, having a BMI of or exceeding 40, or being overweight enough to experience severe impairments to normal health and function.
Although no one wants to be the killjoy at a holiday party or family get-together, it is important to stay on top of high-calorie seasonal temptation. You do not have to be a Grinch during the holiday season, but you should come up with a solid plan of action to suit your health needs. Obese adults should be particularly careful, as should children suffering from childhood obesity.
“You do need a plan,” according to the Associate Director of Clinical Psychology at Johns Hopkins Weight Management. She suggests developing strategies to support healthy eating, no matter the occasion.
Prevalence of Obesity
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity increased from 30%-42% in the past twenty years. Because obesity is among the risk factors for serious conditions, such as kidney disease and type 2 diabetes, it is imperative to developing healthy habits to aid in losing weight and improving overall health. The National Institutes of Health states that children ages 2-5 have experienced twice the number of obesity diagnoses than children in the previous thirty years.
Causes of Obesity
Obesity develops in response to consuming more calories than the number of calories being burned. For many, obesity comes down to consuming too many calories and exercising too little. There are other factors that can lead to obesity that do not revolve around the prevailing wisdom of “calories in/calories out.” These factors may include the following:
As you age, your metabolism ages with you. An aging metabolism results in a reduction in the breakdown of food, which means you require fewer calories to maintain your weight. This simple change is at the heart of weight changes during the aging process.
It is common to hear people lamenting the lack of change in their diets despite a dramatic increase in weight, and a slowed metabolism is the reason 20-year-olds and 40-year-olds can follow the same diet and exercise routines and wind up with dramatically different weights.
Women may be at greater risk for being overweight than men. Men possess a higher resting metabolic rate than women, which means that men must consume more calories to maintain a steady weight. Because men burn more energy while at rest than women, weight loss efforts may differ for men and women.
Women also have to contend with menopause, which further reduces metabolic rates. This is often the cause of weight gain in postmenopausal women.
Obesity (and thinness) tends to run in families. One study evaluated adults who were adopted as children. The study determined that participating adult weights were closer to their biological parents’ weights than their adoptive parents’ weights.
The adoptive family’s environment had less influence on obesity development than genetic makeup. This means that, if your biological parent is overweight or obese, there is a 75% chance that you will also experience issues with weight. If your biological parents are thin, you have the same chance of being thin, yourself.
It may seem discouraging to hear that genetics plays a large role in weight, but take heart. Many people who are genetically predisposed to being overweight or obese do not go on to develop either condition and are able to lose mass and effectively maintain a healthy body weight.
Genes do play an important role in the development of obesity, but they are not the only factors involved. A person’s environment can play a substantial role in whether or not a person goes on to become obese or overweight. Environmental factors can include lifestyle factors, dietary practices, and exercise habits.
Active people will require more calories to maintain their current weight than inactive individuals. In obese individuals, physical activity may lead to a decrease in appetite, and an increase in body fat metabolism. While there are many different factors involved in obesity rates, some researchers have suggested that a large cause of obesity is decreased levels of daily activity.
Psychological factors also influence eating habits and obesity. People may eat when they feel negative emotions or boredom. People experiencing weight difficulties may also be facing emotional and psychological issues.
30% of people who seek treatment for serious weight issues have experienced challenges related to binge eating. A binge-eating episode is characterized by consuming large amounts of food in a short period, accompanied by feeling out of control.
There are also some illnesses that can contribute to obesity and weight gain. Hormone issues such as hypothyroidism, depression, and even some rare brain diseases have been linked to overeating, which can result in continual weight gain.
Certain medications can cause excessive weight gain. These include steroids and even some antidepressants.
Even in the presence of external factors and genetic concerns, our primary care office in Rock Hill, SC, offers solutions for weight loss and obesity for patients in Rock Hill, Charlotte, and the surrounding areas.