is a condition in which a person has excess of body fat
. When a person is 20 percent or more over their ideal body weight or if their Body Mass Index is 30 or over they are considered obese
. Obesity increases an individual’s risk for various diseases, disability, and death.
Obesity has, in the recent years become a global phenomenon
. This has serious implications, particularly in countries like India, where one fourth of the population is diabetic
. Childhood obesity
too has raised grave concerns world- wide. The obesity facts worldwide facts are startling -
• There are currently about 1.6 billion people
in the world who are overweight and there are another 400 million
who suffer from obesity.
• 155 million children
are overweight and 30 to 45 million are obese
• In countries like India and other developing the problem is worse – healthcare is facing a crisis on both fronts – undernutrition and obesity
A large proportion of the world population is overweight
. There has been a lot of discussion about the exact definition of the terms overweight and obesity that can be applied universally. The National Institute of Health’s definition, given below, seems to be most acceptable.
Overweight is defined as BMI of over 27.3 % or more for women and 27.8 % or more for men. If it touches 30 a person is considered obese.
is a great source of reserve energy for the body
. It also acts as an insulator. It is fat that gives the body its smooth contour and its beautiful look
A normal person has about 30 and 35 billion fat cells
. Initially, when a person gains weight, the fat cells grow in their size but later on, if the weight is not controlled the number of fat cells start increasing. Weight loss results in decrease in size of the cells but not their number. The normal fat cells are 0.4 to 0.6 microgram in weight; the cells of an obese person can weigh as much as 1.2 micrograms.
Besides physical discomfort
, an obese individual is at a risk of developing diseases
such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, depression, sleep apnea, fatty liver disease, gall bladder disease, osteoarthritis and fertility- related problems. Genetics
, family history, sex and age determine the ‘size’ of the individual. The rate at which a person metabolizes food and his Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) are determined by his genetic factors. A family history puts him naturally on a risk. Women are more predisposed to obesity than men and older people are at a greater risk of weight gain compared to younger individuals. Certain medical conditions, like hypothyroidism,
leads an individual to gain weight. Physical inactivity, changes in food habits and lifestyle
has been a major reason for the obesity epidemic worldwide.
A conscious effort
to alter diet habits
and a changed lifestyle are the best methods to manage
obesity. For the morbidly obese prescription pills, non- invasive treatments and weight loss surgeries are also available.