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What is Obesity?

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Obesity – The Facts.

Obesity means having too much body fat. It is different from being overweight, which means weighing more than is considered healthy. The weight may come from muscle, bone, fat, body water. Both terms mean that a person’s weight is more significant than is healthy for his or her height.

Obesity happens over time when you eat more calories than you use. The balance between calories-in and calories-out differs for each person. Factors that might affect your weight include your genetic makeup, overeating, eating high-fat foods, and not being physically active.

Obesity increases your risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, and some cancers. If you have obesity, losing even 5 to 10 percent of your weight can delay or prevent some of these diseases. For example, that means losing 10 to 20 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds.

Weight higher than a healthy weight for a given height is described as overweight or obese. Body Mass Index, or BMI, is used as a screening tool for overweight or obesity.

What is obesity?

One of the common ways to describe obesity is that it is a condition when one has significant excess weight that can lead to significant health problems, reduced quality of life, low self-esteem, and shortened life span. Obesity can be “measured” with a number called the BMI.

One is overweight if ones BMI is above 25. Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. BMI is a measure of your weight in relation to your height. Class 1 obesity means a BMI of 30 to 35, Class 2 obesity is a BMI of 35 to 40, and Class 3 obesity is a BMI of 40 or more. Classes 2 and 3, also known as severe obesity, are often hard to treat with diet and exercise alone.

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What is your BMI?

  • If your BMI is less than 18.5, it falls within the underweight range.
  • If your BMI is 18.5 to <25, it falls within the normal.

Obesity is frequently subdivided into categories:

  • Class 1: BMI of 30 to < 35
  • Class 2: BMI of 35 to < 40
  • Class 3: BMI of 40 or higher. Class 3 obesity may be categorized as “extreme” or “severe” obesity.
  • If your BMI is 25.0 to <30, it falls within the overweight range.
  • If your BMI is 30.0 or higher, it falls within the obese range.

At an individual level, BMI can be used as a screening tool but is not diagnostic of the body fatness or the health of an individual. A trained healthcare provider should perform appropriate health assessments to evaluate an individual’s health status and risks.

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Adult obesity:

Causes & consequences

Obesity is a complex health issue to address. Obesity results from a combination of contributing factors, including individual factors such as behavior and genetics. The behavior may include dietary patterns, physical activity, inactivity, medication use, and other exposures. Additional contributing factors in our society include the food and physical activity environment, education and skills, and food marketing and promotion.

Obesity is a serious concern because it is associated with poorer mental health outcomes, reduced quality of life, and the leading causes of death in the U.S. and worldwide, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer.


Healthy behaviors include a healthy diet pattern and regular physical activity. Energy balance of the number of calories consumed from foods and beverages with the number of calories the body uses for activity plays an essential role in preventing excess weight gain.

A healthy diet pattern follows the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which emphasizes eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low-fat and fat-free dairy products, and drinking water. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity, or a combination of both, along with two days of strength training per week. Having a healthy diet pattern and regular physical activity is also essential for long term health benefits and prevention of chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Community environment

People and families may make decisions based on their background or community. For example, a person may choose not to walk or bike to the store or to work because of a lack of sidewalks or safe bike trails. Community, home, childcare, school, health care, and workplace settings can all influence people’s daily behaviors. Therefore, it is essential to create environments in these locations that make it easier to engage in physical activity and eat a healthy diet.

Genetics and obesity

How do genes influence obesity?

Genes give the body instructions for responding to changes in the environment. Studies have identified variants in several genes that may contribute to obesity by increasing hunger and food intake. Rarely, a clear pattern of inherited obesity within a family may be caused by a specific variant of a single gene (monogenic obesity). Most obesity, however, probably results from complex interactions among multiple genes and environmental factors that remain poorly understood (multifactorial obesity).

Do Genes Have a Role in Obesity?

Genetic changes in human populations occur too slowly to be responsible for the obesity epidemic. Nevertheless, the variation in how people respond to the environment that promotes physical inactivity and intake of high-calorie foods suggests that genes do play a role in the development of obesity.

What about family history

Healthcare practitioners routinely collect family health history to help identify people at high risk of obesity-related diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and some forms of cancer. Family health history reflects the effects of shared genetics and the environment among close relatives. Families can’t change their genes, but they can change the family environment to encourage healthy eating habits and physical activity. Those changes can improve the health of family members—and improve the family health history of the next generation.

Other Factors:

Diseases and drugs

Some illnesses may lead to obesity or weight gain. These may include Cushing’s disease and polycystic ovary syndrome. Drugs such as steroids and some antidepressants may also cause weight gain. The science continues to emerge on the role of other factors in energy balance and weight gains, such as chemical exposures and the role of the microbiome.

Our team of professionals at Ideal Body Institute in Atlanta can help you learn more about your health habits and history to tell you whether behaviors, illnesses, medications, and psychological factors are contributing to weight gain or making weight loss hard.

The consequences of obesity

Health Consequences: People who have obesity, compared to those with a standard or healthy weight, are at increased risk for many severe diseases and health conditions, including the following:

  • All-causes of death (mortality)
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • High LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high levels of triglycerides (dyslipidemia)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Osteoarthritis (a breakdown of cartilage and bone within a joint)
  • Sleep apnea and breathing problems
  • Some cancers (endometrial, breast, colon, kidney, gallbladder, and liver)
  • Low quality of life
  • Mental illness such as clinical depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders
  • Body pain and difficulty with physical functioning

Economic and societal consequences

Obesity and its associated health problems have a significant economic impact on the U.S. health care system. Medical costs associated with overweight and obesity may involve direct and indirect costs. The direct medical costs may include preventive, diagnostic, and treatment services related to obesity. Indirect costs relate to morbidity and mortality costs, including productivity. Productivity measures include “absenteeism” (losses due to employees being absent from work for obesity-related health reasons) and “presenteeism” (decreased productivity of employees while at work) as well as premature mortality and disability.

National estimatedcosts of obesity

The medical care costs of obesity in the United States are high. In current dollar rates, the costs were estimated at $147 billion. The annual nationwide productive costs of obesity obesity-related absenteeism are estimated to be between $3.38 billion ($79 per obese individual) and $6.38 billion ($132 per obese individual).

Obesity has implications in recruitment by the armed forces. An assessment of the percentage of the US military-age population that exceeds the US Army’s current active duty enlistment standards for weight-for-height and percent body fat, from data provided by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys reveals that in a two-year period, 5.7 million men and 16.5 million women who exceeded the Army’s enlistment standards for weight and body fat.

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IdealBody Institute in Atlanta?

  • You will be treated in a luxury, private surgical center
  • We offer quality patient care at affordable rates
  • Ideal Body Institute is a multi-specialty surgery center with a state-of-the-art private clinic
  • One of the only clinics in Atlanta that offer ESG for weight-loss
  • We are proud to be known for our outstanding patient outcomes

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