Obesity and Your Health
Obesity is a life-threatening disease affecting millions of Americans. About 31.4% of adults in the United States are obese.
It's important to understand the difference between the terms overweight and obese. Overweight refers to an excess of body weight compared to set standards. The excess weight may come from muscle, bone, fat, and/or body water. Obesity refers specifically to having an abnormally high proportion of body fat. A person can be overweight without being obese, such as a bodybuilder or an athlete who has a lot of muscle. However, many people who are overweight are also obese.
The most common measurement of obesity is the Body Mass Index (BMI). While your BMI doesn't measure actual body fat, it tends to correlate well with the degree of obesity. It should not be used alone for diagnosis but can be useful as a general guideline.
Causes of Obesity
Obesity is not a sign that a person is out of control. It is a complex, chronic disease.
Many things can contribute to this condition, such as:
- Energy balance - your body may take too much energy from food - more than what your body needs can lead to weight gain. This depends on your level of activity and your metabolism.
- Heredity - you have a higher risk of obesity if it runs in your family.
- Metabolic disorders - if your body's metabolism changes, it may affect your energy balance and weight.
- Eating and social habits - An unbalanced diet, snacking between meals and too little exercise can all lead to obesity.
- Psychological factors - Social and emotional eating are among the main causes of excessive weight gain.
Any one or a combination of these factors can lead to obesity. Inherited conditions can't be changed, but you have the power to change your behavior patterns and improve your own health and well-being.