Overweight and obesity are both
labels used for the ranges of weight
that are greater than what is generally
considered to be healthy for a given
height, age, and sex. They are also
used to define abnormal or excessive
fat accumulation on the body that
may impair health and increase the
likelihood of certain diseases.
The World Health Organization (WHO)
defines "overweight" as
a BMI (Body Mass Index) equal to
or more than 25, and "obesity"
as a BMI equal to or more than 30.
BMI is a simple index of weight-to-height
that is commonly used to classify
overweight and obesity in adult
individuals. It is defined as the
weight in kilograms divided by the
square of the height in meters (kg/m2).
is a global epidemic. According
to the WHO, by 2015 approximately
2.3 billion of the world adult
population will be overweight
and more than 700 million of these
will be obese.
Causes and Risk Factors
and overweight are primarily caused
when the amount of calories expended
is less than the amount of calories
consumed. Several factors have contributed
toward this energy imbalance. Poor
lifestyle has also aggravated this
problem to a great extent. There
has been a steep rise in the intake
of high calorie foods that are rich
in fats and sugars but low in vitamins,
minerals, and other micronutrients.
The problem is compounded by the
overall decrease in physical activity
because of the rise in sedentary
lifestyle, dependence on vehicular
transport, and increase in urbanization.
Obesity is observed in men, women,
and children. Children of this generation
are more interested in watching
television or using the internet
instead of playing outdoors. Greasy,
salty, and sugary foods are the
only three types of foods that entice
children would prefer to consume French
fries instead of celery sticks and the
children-centric marketing of processed
food and the abundance of unhealthy
products in our supermarkets have done
nothing to avert this trend.
It may appear that overeating and obesity
are only problems faced by people who
are living in developed countries, but
that is not entirely true. Ironically,
poverty is also one of the causes of
obesity. Junk food or food with zero
or little nutritional value is cheaper
and more easily available than healthy
food. Individuals who live below the
poverty line, who must provide food
for many others, or who cannot afford
to spend money on healthy food ultimately
consume a lot of these "filler"
foods that contain empty calories.
may also be hereditary. Some scientists
believe that individuals can be born
with "overweight" genes. As
previously said, poor living habits
such as overeating and lack of exercise
only intensifies this problem. Weight
gain during pregnancy is normal, but
some women retain a lot of excess weight
even post-delivery. Anyone who does
not adequately care for his or her body
and who abuses it by overeating, eating
unhealthy foods, and lacking physical
activity is at risk of being obese.
Overweight and obesity lead to serious
health consequences such as cardiovascular
disease (mainly heart disease and stroke),
diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders
such as osteoarthritis, and even cancers
(endometrial, breast, and colon).