Obesity: What you need to know

Obesity is a chronic and complex disease associated with excessive body fat. One of the primary functions of body fat is the self-storage of food reserves. In obesity, there is an excess food/calorie intake, which causes the accumulation of excess fat. Studies show a 20% prevalence of obesity in Nigeria.

What is the distinction between being overweight and obese?

Using a simple arithmetic calculation called the body mass index (BMI), a person can easily access his/her body fat composition. Your weight in kilograms (kg) is divided by the square of your height in metres (m). For example, you weigh 65kg, and you are 1.7m tall. Your BMI is 22.5kg/m2.

Although BMI is a helpful estimate of healthy weight, actual body fat percentage can only really be determined by considering other information such as waist circumference and muscle mass. Athletes, for example, have a naturally higher BMI.

How does a person become obese?

Primarily, energy imbalance causes obesity. This implies that if one’s energy input from calories in food and drinks is greater than the energy output from physical activity, the body stores the extra calories as fat. In most cases, this energy imbalance comes from a combination of circumstances and choices.

By medical recommendation, adults should get at least 2.5 hours of exercise every week, while children should get an hour of exercise every day. Global statistics show that one out of every four adults is not active enough, and about 81% of adolescents between ages 11-17 years are insufficiently physically active.

Over-consumption of calorie-dense processed foods and lack of access to healthy and affordable foods increase the risk of becoming obese. Genetic studies have also shown a hereditary causal relationship to weight gain. Recent studies have also established a link between obesity and variations in the bacteria species that live in our digestive systems.

Health risks associated with obesity

Obesity is an escalating global epidemic. Obesity affects all ages, gender, and socioeconomic groups. It substantially raises the probability of diseases such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Hypertension
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Cancer

Reasons for difficulty recovery from obesity

Once a person is obese, the chances of recovery become progressively lesser. Here are the reasons:

  • Hormonal and metabolic changes reduce the body’s response to overeating. After losing weight, a formerly overweight person burns fewer calories doing the same exercises as a person who is naturally that same weight. This makes it much more difficult (not impossible) to shed excess fat.
  • As people gain weight, damage to signaling pathways makes it increasingly difficult for the brain to measure food intake and fat storage. In other words, the more weight you gain, the more you eat and the more fat you store.

Solutions to obesity

There is evidence that well-monitored, long-term behavioural changes can lead to improvements in obesity-related health issues and weight loss from sustained lifestyle changes. Invasive procedures such as bariatric surgeries can improve insulin resistance and decrease inflammation.

A word from HealthFacts to you

Obesity is recognized as a global pandemic, and its numerous associated and life-threatening diseases indicate a need for urgent attention. Quality diet and exercise constitute the most important means of preventing obesity.

Till next time, stay informed and stay healthy!

Suggested Reading: Home Remedies to help beat Obesity


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