Why Obesity Is No Laughing Matter

Ajibola Abdulkadir September 17, 2014

Obesity FactsHmmm…today’s topic is one that sometimes sparks off debates about political correctness — or incorrectness — as the case may be. But you see, I’ve seen one too many cases of illnesses and sudden deaths associated with obesity, so I reckon we need to talk about it.

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Obesity is simply a disorder in which an individual has an excessive amount of body fat. So you see, when your doctor tells you you’re obese or overweight, they’re not trying to make you feel bad about how you look. No. The issue is that obesity is a major health concern and not just cosmetic: It increases your risk of developing diseases and health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Obesity does not occur overnight…it is a gradual process that happens when you eat more calories than your body uses. Certain factors affect how your body uses up calories, like your genetics, overfeeding, excessive consumption of junk and high-fat foods, and living a sedentary lifestyle — these factors all contribute to being obese.

Because of the risks associated with excessive weight and body fat, even if you don’t feel bad now about your size, it is important to lose weight if you are overweight.

Don’t lose me now…come along as I shed more light on obesity and how to control your weight.

How Do You Know You’re Obese?

There are many measures of assessing your weight category, but the most-commonly used and widely accepted method is the body mass index (BMI) calculation.

The BMI calculation gives you a score that measures whether you are at a healthy weight for your own specific height, so it’s not a “one size fits all” type of thing.

Generally, for most adults:

  • a BMI of 18.5 and less means you are underweight (there are different classifications to the underweight category, but we won’t be going in to that.)
  • a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 means you are at a healthy weight
  • a BMI of 25 to 29.9 means you are considered overweight
  • a BMI of 30 to 34.9 means you are considered moderately obese
  • a BMI of 35 to 39.9 means you are considered severely obese
  • a BMI of 40 or above means you are considered very severely obese

Please understand that the BMI is not used to definitively diagnose obesity, but it is a very useful indication of whether your weight is at a healthy level. You can quickly check yours here.

Causes of Obesity

As I mentioned earlier, obesity usually results from taking in more calories than your body uses up. There are, however, other contributing factors, such as genetics, inactivity, and unhealthy feeding habits. Some other factors include:

  • Medical conditions. This can be traced to the root of an individual’s excessive weight gain, e.g. Cushing’s syndrome, hypothyroidism.
  • Pregnancy. When a woman is pregnant, she adds weight mostly unavoidably. For some women, this weight is difficult to lose after the baby is born – this contributes to the development of obesity in women.
  • Poor sleeping habits. Inadequate sleep can lead to the production of hormones that increase your appetite. You also start to crave foods high in calories and carbohydrates just to boost your poor energy levels. This in turn contributes to weight gain.
  • Medications. Some medications can also lead to weight gain if you don’t compensate through diet or activity. These medications include some contraceptive pills, antidepressants, corticosteroids, amongst others.

Problems Associated with Obesity

When you’re obese, the likelihood of developing a number of very serious health problems gets higher. Some of these illnesses include:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Heart diseases
  • Stroke
  • Cancer
  • Reproductive and sexual problems in both males and females
  • Respiratory problems, such as sleep apnea
  • Depression

Other Non-Health-Related Problems Include:

  • Poor quality of life as you may not be able to do things you’d normally enjoy doing, especially in public.
  • Social isolation.
  • Shame.

Overcoming Obesity

The best way to overcome obesity is to eat a healthful, reduced-calorie diet and to exercise regularly. This can be done by:

  • Eating a balanced, calorie-controlled diet. Your doctor or weight loss professional can recommend this for you.
  • Avoiding overeating.
  • Reducing junk food intake
  • Drinking lots of water and eating lots of fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoiding late-night eating
  • Joining a local weight-loss group
  • Doing exercises, such as brisk walking, jogging, swimming, or tennis for at least 20 minutes daily.

In some cases, weight loss medications may be prescribed, and in some rare instances, surgery may be recommended, but these are all at your doctor’s discretion.

After all is said and done, it is important to note that there is no “quick fix” or overnight remedy for obesity; it is a process. Proper weight loss programmes take time, and most importantly, commitment. If you find yourself obese or even overweight, just keep at a goal of losing weight to be healthy – you may be losing what seems like an insignificant amount of weight, but being consistent will significantly reduce your risk of obesity-related complications like diabetes and heart disease.

Till I come your way again, please calculate your BMI via the link above and do the needful – stay healthy!

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Last Edited by:Abena Agyeman-Fisher Updated: September 18, 2014


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