In this article:
- Obesity refers to the excessive accumulation of fat in the body and is a global health issue.
- A leading reason for obesity is an inactive lifestyle where the amount of calories consumed is much higher than the number of calories spent.
- People with obesity are more prone to developing type 2 diabetes, cardiac malfunction, and even cancer.
- Minor cases of obesity can be rectified by making some healthy changes in lifestyle.
- In severe cases where obesity crosses hazardous thresholds for health, clinical procedures and medications remain the only way out.
The struggle to achieve and maintain an ideal weight and body mass is never-ending. A lot of people grapple with weight issues from time to time, with some being overweight while others being underweight.
Everyone aspires to reach their ideal body size and weight, but the struggle is more difficult for some than others.
In several cases, weight gain is mainly considered a cosmetic concern and can be managed through healthy food and lifestyle changes.
However, obesity goes beyond what is normally considered as being chubby. It is a much more complex condition and has become a global health disorder in recent decades.
Obesity arises due to excessive fat deposits in the body, which can negatively impact the organs and make way for chronic ailments.
The cause of obesity, in most cases, is consuming more calories than your body can exhaust. Every person has a different calorie requirement, which depends on the body type and the work a person does.
The frequent consumption of energy-dense food can leave you with more calories than you can expend. As a result, your body starts hoarding up these extra calories and fat, over time, leading to obesity. This problem is further aggravated by a lack of exercise and movement.
You can calculate your body mass index (BMI) to know whether you are obese or not.
BMI is the measure of your body fat according to your height and weight. It is a way to determine if you have a healthy weight according to your height.
You can figure out your BMI by these methods:
- Use this formula to calculate your BMI.BMI= (Weight in pounds / (Height in inches × Height in inches)) × 703
BMI= (Weight in kilograms / (Height in meters × Height in meters))
- Use the US National Institutes of Health’s online BMI calculator.
A BMI of (18.5-24.9) is generally considered ideal. A BMI of (25.5-29.9) is overweight, and (above 30) is obese.
BMI is a simple way to categorize underweight, normal, overweight, and obese. Obesity can be largely influenced by your genes. If obesity runs in your family, chances are you may also develop it at some point in your life.
In other cases, extrinsic factors such as a high intake of processed sugars and greasy food with little or no physical exercise can make you gain unhealthy pounds.
Obesity is extremely rampant in the United States, where it affects nearly 40% of the population. Apart from adult obesity, cases of obesity in children have also drastically increased in the last 50 years.
This rapid growth of obesity among the younger generations should motivate people to address the issue more seriously.
Although obesity is a serious medical condition, the good thing is that it can be cured. Healthy food and a regular fitness routine can help you to lose excess body fat progressively and can improve the metabolic activity of different organs. (3)
There are usually five weight categories.
People with a BMI lower than 18.5 are considered to be underweight. It is vital for underweight individuals to consult their doctors for advice on weight gain, since being underweight can have negative impacts on their health.
2. Normal or healthy weight
The healthy or normal weight range is represented by a BMI falling between 18.5 and 24.9. However, this reference range is not suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Overweight is a BMI of (25.0-29.9). Being on the heavy side can make daily activities harder than they should be.
The extra weight that you carry can quickly tire you out, reduce your efficiency, and make you susceptible to various health complications.
Over time, being overweight may lead to full-fledged obesity. If you are already suffering from chronic health issues such as type 2 diabetes or heart-related ailments, it is advisable to seek medical help and explore weight management options.
Obesity is determined by a BMI range of (30.0-39.9).
Not only does obesity worsen your existing medical problems, but it can also pave the way for new and more serious ones in the future. Consult your doctor regarding treatment options.
5. Severe obesity
Severe or morbid obesity is characterized by a BMI of 40.0 or above. People who are morbidly obese can exceed their normal body weight by as much as 100 pounds.
This condition can be fatal if not treated properly and requires immediate medical attention.
Causes of Obesity
Obesity is a serious health disorder that can result from a variety of contributing factors.
1. Family history
Obesity can be a hereditary disorder that is passed down through generations. If your parents or some close relatives are obese, you have high chances of developing it as well.
In other words, someone with a genetic susceptibility to obesity is more likely to be affected by it than someone who has no such family history.
2. Environment and lifestyle
Unhealthy food and lifestyle habits when sustained for a long duration can collectively manifest themselves as obesity and its related symptoms.
You may develop obesity due to the following lifestyle factors:
- A hectic work schedule and personal life that leave no room for exercise.
- Frequenting food chains that serve high-calorie junk and processed food.
- Regularly dining out. Restaurant meals are all about exciting the taste buds and have little nutritional value. They are loaded with calories, and their frequent consumption fills you with way more carbohydrates than your body would utilize.
Research suggests that both depression and obesity can have underlying genetic causes. It is understandable then that people with a family history of depression or obesity or both are genetically predisposed to developing either one or both conditions at some point in their lives.
Depression may prevent a person from paying attention to his/her food choices, resulting in unhealthy eating patterns that contribute to weight gain. This is made worse by the characteristic lethargy and lack of motivation that restricts the depressed individual to a sedentary life.
General inactivity combined with unregulated dietary choices can pave the way for obesity. At times, medicines prescribed for depression can also result in obesity as a side effect.
4. Sleep deprivation
Adequate sleep is quite important in regulating your weight profile. People who do not get enough sleep regularly are more likely to develop obesity than those who have a healthy sleeping routine.
Sleep deprivation can trigger weight gain in the following ways:
- Not getting enough sleep can render you too exhausted to exercise and burn extra calories. A sleep-deprived body will be unable to take the strain of regular exercise. Over time, this lack of physical exercise will make it difficult for you to maintain a healthy weight.
- People who cannot manage to sleep properly often indulge in mindless snacking as a way to kill time. If you are not sleeping through the night, you will simply have more instances of binge eating.Longer waking hours lead to more frequent hunger pangs. Eating out of boredom and not hunger will contribute to weight issues including obesity.
- Sleep imbalances can inhibit normal secretion and effects of appetite hormones, namely, ghrelin and leptin. This hormonal imbalance can increase your appetite, and you will end up eating a lot more than is required. (5)
Some people may develop drug-induced obesity as a side effect of certain medications prescribed by their doctor.
Early weight gain due to medicines is often overlooked and is considered to be a normal part of the healing process. Over time, this can develop into clinical obesity.
Medicines prescribed for hypertension, migraines, seizures, and psychotropic drugs such as those recommended for mood disorders can interfere with your appetite and metabolism. They can also cause water retention and make you look bloated.
7. Socioeconomic factors
Obesity in both men and women can be directly influenced by socioeconomic conditions, including the quality of education, profession, and income group. The adverse impact of these factors may be interlinked or individual.
People who are well to do socially may face a lesser risk of developing obesity as compared to their poorer counterparts.
It is also seen that obesity in the female population is highly impacted by the amount of earning, while income had little or no effect on obesity in men. In addition, the risk of obesity is generally found to increase with age in both men and women. (6)
As strange as it may sound, the microscopic airbone pollutants and toxins that surround you can contribute to unwarranted weight gain.
According to the latest research, air pollution is one of the prominent causes behind increased obesity in children and teenagers. (7)
Increased air pollution may lead to internal inflammation and disrupt normal metabolism, which can then invite obesity.
8. Eating disorders
Eating disorders have a direct impact on body weight and are common causes of obesity, especially in people who are already on the heavy side.
People with eating disorders have a psychological or emotional dependence on food that makes them consume large quantities of food in one sitting.
Obesity is known to be both the cause and result of mindless eating or overeating. Out of the different obesity issues known, binge eating disorder (BID) is shown to cause several health risks.
9. Other risk factors
Alcoholism and hormonal imbalances can also make you increasingly prone to obesity.
Symptoms of Obesity
People with obesity are at a higher risk of developing other medical conditions, which come with their own set of symptoms and complications.
Obesity does not develop alone but is accompanied by a host of other discomforts, which include:
- Shortness of breath
- Excessive sweating
- Lack of sleep
- Difficulty in performing any impromptu physical activity
- Body aches such as backaches and painful joints
BMI calculation using the BMI-for-age formula is the foremost diagnostic procedure to determine obesity in both children and adults.
The level of fat content in the body can be an indicator of obesity. It can be calculated by any of the following methods:
- Calculating waist circumference
- Calculating waist to hip circumference
- Skin fold measurement for assessing the amount of subcutaneous fat
- Determining the concentration of body fat through ultrasound
Obesity can become a risk factor for several distressing health conditions. Therefore, your doctor may suggest additional diagnostic exams to test for concurrent health disorders such as diabetes and to determine the concentration of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol in the blood.
Treatment for Obesity
Obesity can be overcome through medical weight and lifestyle changes.
Medical weight management
Antiobesity drugs are popular, non-invasive treatment options that cut down excess body fat and thereby relieve pressure on the bones. The aim of treating clinical obesity is improving metabolic health, and weight-loss medicines can do so in the following ways:
- Reduce your desire to eat and cut down food intake
- Restrict fat uptake by the body cells and inhibit fat accumulation
These drugs may be available at your local pharmacy as over-the-counter pills or be prescribed to you by your doctor. However, bear in mind that these drugs alone cannot guarantee any significant results. Drug therapy is not a substitute for exercise and healthy eating, but a complementary aid.
So, weight-loss medicines are only helpful when coupled with an overall healthy diet and lifestyle. Practice caution when using weight-loss medicines as they can come with side effects. Seek medical advice to know whether you actually need these medicines or not.
Avoid self-medication, and always refer to your doctor for proper dosage. If you are pregnant, they may be off-limits for you.
2. Bariatric/obesity surgery
Bariatric surgery is recommended for patients with morbid obesity who are unable to lose weight through exercise and diet changes.
Obesity surgeries are performed to make structural changes in the stomach and digestive system. These surgical procedures reduce the stomach size and lower its food holding capacity, which further impedes absorption. The results are early satiety and delayed hunger levels post-surgery.
Invasive weight management methods can also alleviate the comorbid conditions invited by severe obesity. Reduced fat content and body mass reduces the strain on body organs and enables their proper functioning.
Bariatric surgery is considered to be a secure, effective, and well-tested treatment option for obesity. However, not all types of obesity can be treated through this.
Bariatric surgery is usually recommended for people who have a BMI of 40 or above, along with other serious conditions such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, etc.
3. Weight-Loss devices
The use of weight-loss devices has been recently included as one of the treatment approaches for obesity. It is a non-surgical and temporary mode of treatment where certain gadgets are used to reduce weight.
Not all people are able to achieve healthy weight loss through simple measures. Even fewer cases of obesity can be treated through bariatric surgery. Weight-loss devices can be recommended for these individuals to help them in managing their weight.
Some common weight-loss devices are:
- Electrical stimulation system: This device can change the nerve signals to the brain and make you feel full more quickly.
- Gastric balloon system: This device is a balloon-shaped device that is filled with saline solution and is placed inside the stomach. It reduces your hunger significantly.
- Gastric emptying system: This device pushes the stomach contents in the duodenum.
Note: Weight-loss devices have not been extensively tested for their safety and efficacy. Consult your doctor before using them.
Obesity does not occur overnight, neither can it go away so easily. It is curable but needs commitment and dedication to be managed.
Also, healthy body weight should be a long-term priority. If you slip back to your original unhealthy lifestyle, you will end up gaining the weight you worked so hard to lose.
Medicines, surgery, or weight-loss devices can treat your obesity, but you have to sustain the benefits through a healthy diet and a regular fitness routine.
Your daily diet plays a central role in causing as well as treating obesity. Foods and drinks with a high fat and calorie content, including alcohol, are primarily responsible for unhealthy weight gain.
For a person struggling with excessive weight or full-stage obesity, it is imperative to minimize if not eliminate the intake of such foods.
Opt for healthy and nutritious food items that give energy without tipping your calorie count on the wrong side. Also, make room for regular exercise in your daily schedule that can keep your weight gain under check.
A couple of diet plans you can follow include calorie-restricting diets and intermittent fasting.
a. Calorie-restricted diets
Calorie requirements vary from person to person and are governed by your general physique and extent of regular physical activity. Calorie-limiting diets are recommended to reduce calorie consumption and prevent further weight gain in individuals with obesity.
As their name suggests, calorie-restricted diets include low-calorie but nutritionally adequate food items that induce a negative energy balance without burdening the metabolism.
Your doctor may suggest your ideal calorie intake based on the extent of your surplus weight. Calorie-restricted diets offer 1200-1500 calories per day to women and 1500-1800 calories per day to men. (8)
b. Intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting or intermittent energy restriction is a group of time-based eating techniques that are supposed to increase calorie expenditure.
One of them is alternate day fasting, a cyclic diet schedule where calorie consumption is reserved for “feeding days” and is balanced with “fasting days” when calorie intake is reduced to zero or just 25% of its original amount.
This diet plan is based on the principle that extended periods of fasting create a calorie deficit, which prompts the body to exhaust its existing fat reserves to meet its energy needs. By stimulating fat oxidation to produce energy, your body ends up reducing its fat content, leading to gradual weight loss.
While this is the broad explanation for how intermittent fasting engenders weight loss, there is a need for further analysis and risk assessment to understand its safety and mechanism.
- 7 Easy Hacks to Reduce Calorie Intake
- 10 Nutritious Foods You Should be Eating
- How Important Is Dieting for Weight Loss
- 10 Foods to Avoid at Breakfast
- 10 Tips for Healthy Home Cooking
- 10 Filling Foods That Can Keep You Feeling Full for Longer
- 25 Healthy Snacks with Only Around 100 Calories
- How to Deal with Cravings, Reduce Hunger, and Eat Less
2. Physical Activity
For a healthy weight-loss diet to deliver its desired results, pair it with regular physical exercise. Keeping yourself active helps your metabolism to reach its full potential. Frequent exercise helps in developing a negative energy balance and supplements your weight loss efforts.
You can easily tailor your workout by using health apps or seeking the help of health trainers at gyms and fitness centers. Workout sessions should be planned and tried in a progressive manner with proper warm-up such as walking or jogging.
Exercise is about living a healthy life and not injuring yourself in the process. If you are trying exercise for the first time to counter obesity, do so with proper guidance.
It is but natural to experience some degree of body ache and soreness in the initial days of physical training, but consult your health provider if you develop any serious and prolonged bodily issues.
- Exercises and Yoga Poses to Reduce Pot Belly
- Simple Exercises to Do at Home During the Lockdown
- How to Increase Your Stamina
- Exercises, Diet and Posture to Reduce Excess Neck Fat
Home Remedies for Obesity and Weight Loss
Medical treatment for obesity can be combined with some home remedies that can give you a helping hand in your weight-loss journey.
1. Natural drinks that may help to boost your metabolism
The acidity in lemon comes from citric acid, which in small doses can help your body melt excess body fat. Also, an major component of lemon, vitamin C or ascorbic acid is a powerful antioxidant that makes this citrus fruit a great detoxifying agent.
Lemon juice can be used to rectify a sluggish metabolism, which is a leading cause of obesity. It can also assist the body in purging harmful free radicals from the system and enhancing digestion. The better your digestion, the greater calories you will burn.
Lemon is also a good source of vital nutrients such as fiber, vitamin B, and minerals, including calcium, zinc, potassium, and magnesium. Thus, including lemon in your diet can help improve your overall nutrient intake while supporting obesity management. (9)(10)
Note: Lemon seeds, if consumed in large amounts, can be toxic and can induce adverse effects. Thus, make sure to weed out the seeds when extracting lemon juice.
b. Aloe vera
Current research points to the weight-loss-inducing properties of aloe vera. It takes more calories to digest aloe vera than it provides, creating a negative energy balance favoring weight loss.
USE: Try aloe vera juice as a weight-loss supplement every day for a month to see favorable results.
c. Green tea
Green tea or Chinese tea is a popular drink for weight loss, with a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine for the same. Its popularity has traveled far and wide, and it is recognized as a legitimate dietary supplement for weight management in different parts of the world.
Green tea extract contains catechins and caffeine, which make it an amazing antioxidant that can improve your metabolic health and speed up the process of weight loss when consumed in large amounts. (13)(14)(15)(16)
Moreover, green tea consumption can help in managing the comorbidities of obesity, including hypertension and blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
d. Honey and cinnamon
Natural honey is credited with significant anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can help with healthy weight loss. This sweet-tasting nectar can help stimulate your metabolism and induce weight loss when used as a complementary aid to other anti-obesity measures.
Cinnamon derives its medicinal value from cinnamaldehyde and gallic acid, which make it an effective antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, and detoxifier.
Cinnamon may help limit your food intake by curbing the overall appetite, promoting better digestion, and addressing metabolic syndrome.
2. Add these spices to your diet to aid weight loss
a. Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne is a moderately hot chili that is known for its thermogenic effect on the digestive system.
It gets its pungent taste from capsaicin and capsiate compounds, which are believed to oxidize stored body fat and promote negative energy balance. Thus, cayenne not only adds extra zest to your food but is also a unique agent for weight loss. (22)(23)(24)
Fennel is an easily available flavoring herb that is regularly used in a number of home remedies, including those intended for weight loss.
Fennel is believed to reduce water retention in the body by increasing urine output. Besides its purported diuretic properties, it may also aid metabolism.
Whole flaxseeds contain a good dose of dietary fiber in its outer husk, which promotes healthy digestion, and nutrient absorption. Furthermore, flaxseeds can help fight inflammation in the body and reduce the risk of cardiovascular ailments. (27)(28)
Ginger is a known thermogenic and derives its pungency from its chief components gingerol and 6-shogaol.
The consumption of ginger generates heat in the body which can help reduce accumulated fat and increase energy expenditure.
While these home remedies carry some degree of scientific backing and considerable anecdotal support, there is a need for more large-scale studies to conclusively establish their exact mechanisms and efficacy for reducing weight.
Here are some good lifestyle habits that will help you win over obesity:
- Dehydration can be a major reason behind unhealthy weight gain. Thus, it is important to consume sufficient amounts of water a day that can limit overeating and detoxify your body. Drinking half of your body weight in water can help lower your chances of turning obese.
- Lack and poor quality of sleep not only give you dark circles but also put you at an increased risk of obesity. There is considerable research to suggest that sleep deprivation can seriously undermine your metabolism and other normal body functions.Try to get at least 8-8.5 hours of restful sleep every night to keep your body running smoothly. (34) Also, get treated if you snore or have sleep apnea.
- There’s a reason why breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day, especially for those struggling with obesity. (26)Starting your day with a high-protein and high-fiber meal can keep you full for a longer time and thereby reduce your overall food intake during the day. Ideal breakfast foods should be power-packed and provide a lot of energy without increasing your calorific load too much.
- Vegetarians can be better shielded against obesity as phytochemicals, such as flavonoids, polyphenols, and carotenoids, found in fruits and vegetables are antioxidants that fight free radicals and mitigate oxidative cell damage.For this reason, consider adding carrots, grapes, peaches, figs, whole grains, and leafy greens to your diet.
- Reduced stress levels, conscious dietary choices, and regular exercise have long-lasting benefits for obesity patients. Try to include these changes into your daily routine.
Some General Queries
What factors increase susceptibility to obesity?
Obesity is a chronic and widely occurring health disorder that has gained prominence in the last several decades. Nearly 35% of Americans are classified as obese.
Although obesity can happen to anyone, it can be aggravated by preexisting health problems, unhealthy dietary choices, and a largely sedentary lifestyle.
Can a person with obesity still have a healthy pregnancy?
Women with obesity are generally advised to lose weight before they try getting pregnant. It is because excess body fat and a BMI of 30 or above can lead to a gamut of health complications for both the mother and baby.
However, obesity-related pregnancy issues can be reduced to an extent by normalizing body mass, mindful eating, and proper exercise during pregnancy.
Also, expecting mothers should go for regular health checkups during their gestation period and consult their ob-gyn regarding any specific clinical requirements for childbirth. (35)
What is obesity hypoventilation syndrome?
Large fat deposits in adipose tissues can be a burden on the diaphragm and respiratory passage, which can result in obstructive respiratory disorder. This condition is known as obesity hypoventilation syndrome (OHS).
OHS causes labored breathing, insufficient blood oxygen, and increased concentration of carbon dioxide in the blood, also known as hypercapnia.
OHS can decrease the effectiveness of leptin hormone, which is known to enhance respiration. Excessive stress on breathing can also affect the respiratory centers in the brain.
OHS arises due to obesity but is selective in occurrence. Nonetheless, it is a potentially fatal condition and requires immediate medical aid.
What is the relationship between obesity and metabolic syndrome?
Visceral obesity is a major risk factor for metabolic syndrome, which affects nearly 20%-25% of the adult American population.
Metabolic syndrome is an umbrella term for various chronic health disorders, including dyslipidemia (increase in blood cholesterol and triglycerides), insulin resistance, high blood sugar levels, internal inflammation indicated by elevated CRP levels, and cardiovascular impairments.
Overweight people in older age brackets are at a greater risk of metabolic syndrome, where the disease affects nearly 50% of the population. (29)
Complications of Obesity
Obesity is not just about being overweight. Its associated health risks make it a serious global health issue as it can further lead to:
- Hypertension, cardiovascular disorders, stroke, etc.
- Cancers, including colorectal, breast, gall bladder, and endometrial cancers
- Diabetes mellitus type 2
- Pulmonary disorders including sleep apnea
- Liver and gallbladder disorders
- High cholesterol levels
- Musculoskeletal impairments
- Metabolic syndrome
- Kidney stones (30)
- Psychological issues
Prevention of Obesity
One of the principal ways to avert obesity is avoiding emotional eating. Emotional eating refers to finding comfort and fulfillment in food and can be the reason behind obesity.
Here are some ways to avoid emotional eating:
- Use the hunger scale: It is common for an individual to have a longing to eat because of emotions such as sadness, stress, boredom, or happiness. To avoid psychological hunger, one can take the help of the hunger scale. This helps differentiate between physical, true hunger, and the thinking of being hungry.For using the hunger scale, you need to determine your hunger level on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 referring to extreme hunger, 5 indicating neutrality – neither hungry nor full, 10 representing overly full.
Therefore, if you are at a 2 or 3, you can start feeding yourself. However, eating with a score above 5 represents eating due to emotional reasons. While it may be difficult to assign a number to your need to eat initially, using it for long will give meaning to the numbers. This method can also be used with children.
The hunger scale can make you better attuned toward real hunger and emotional cravings for food that result in overconsumption. Therefore, it helps you with eating mindfully.
- Start a food diary: A log dedicated to your food habits can be helpful in controlling emotional eating. Through a journal, you can recognize those instances that lead you to binge eat along with the emotional and psychological conditions. It can also serve as a recorder of your food cravings and schedules.
- Change your mode of resistance: Feelings of stress, anxiety, sadness, etc., can lead to emotional dependence on food. One way to break this loop is to analyze your reasons for overeating and deal with them in novel ways. Cut yourself some slack and go for a conversation, or think through your problem and its root cause.
When to See a Doctor
The early stages of obesity may be controlled through a proper and healthy routine. However, if your problem worsens and is turning unmanageable, you should get professional help.
Your doctor can:
- Take account of your overall health condition
- Identify any undiagnosed medical reason behind your obesity
- Establish the causal factors of your obesity
- Recommend some weight-loss methods that suit you best
What you may ask your doctor:
- What are the reasons behind my inability to lose weight despite my various efforts?
- What are some ways to avoid genetic obesity?
- How can I protect the next generation, especially kids, from obesity?
- How safe is bariatric surgery?
- What lifestyle habits can I develop that can positively impact weight loss and help in its sustenance?
What your doctor may ask you:
- What are your daily dietary preferences and amount of consumption?
- What physical activities do you do daily?
- When did the obesity set in?
- What do you think is the reason behind your obesity?
- Do you have any coexisting health conditions?
- Are you willing enough to adopt healthy lifestyle choices to win over obesity?
Losing weight and getting fit are gradual processes that need commitment. The first steps toward initiating weight loss are setting an achievable target and working toward it.
No matter what the type of obesity you suffer from, even a 3%-5% of weight loss through constant efforts is a desirable improvement that can reduce the risk of heart diseases. Also, it is important to realize that weight monitoring should not be just a temporary concern but a lifelong habit.
On a global scale, obesity can be countered through public health awareness programs that can educate people on the merits of good food and lifestyle choices.
Expert Answers (Q&A)
Answered by Dr. Gabriel Okpagu, MD, MBA (Family Physician)
Many underlying medical conditions can lead to obesity. Hypothyroidism is one condition that can lead to weight gain as a result of decreased metabolism.
Obesity is classified based on BMI. These categories include:
• Obesity – BMI (30-34.9)
• Moderate obesity – BMI (35-39.9)
• High-risk, morbid obesity – BMI (40 or greater)
Obesity can be a secondary result of stress and depression. Some patients suffering from an increased level of stress or depression may indulge in overeating. This, over time, can lead to weight gain or obesity.
The ketogenic diet has become increasingly popular. However, there have been no reliable studies to assess their long-term ramifications. The ketogenic diet can lead to weight loss if sustained for an extended period of time.
The goals for weight loss in obese individuals are:
• Reduction of starchy carbs (pasta, white bread, potatoes, white rice)
• Reduction of sugary foods, drinks, etc.
• Reduction of saturated fats
• Inclusion of high-fiber foods
• Inclusion of sources of omega-3 fatty acids (including avocados, fruits such as pears, green vegetables, flaxseed, and fish oil)
Regular moderate-intensity interval training can also assist with further weight reduction, although diet modification accounts for roughly 60% of weight loss.
Childhood obesity can be due to the consumption of excessive calories, genetic predisposition, or an underlying medical condition.
Childhood obesity is a serious issue and should be taken seriously given the early exposure to risks of developing conditions mentioned above.
Studies have shown a genetic predisposition to obesity, which suggests some individuals are more prone to obesity than others. (38)
Obesity is measured as a BMI equal to or greater than 30. Overweight is a BMI between 25 and 29.9.
Being overweight can increase the risk of developing diabetes if necessary dietary and lifestyle modifications are not made.
Obesity, in the majority of my patients, can be attributed to their lifestyle.
Exercise recommendations include at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. In terms of diet, reducing carb intake can further potentiate weight loss.
The general daily caloric intake is approximately 2,500 calories. However, many factors may lead to certain variations of this recommendation. I recommend making gradual changes to the diet that is sustainable in the long run.
Eliminating sodas, juices, sugary snacks, and starchy carbs such as potatoes, pasta, and white rice and replacing these with foods such as quinoa, wheat bread, vegetable pasta, and brown rice can be beneficial.
About Dr. Gabriel Okpagu, MD, MBA: Dr. Okpagu is a board-certified family physician who is driven by a relentless passion for revolutionizing healthcare in order to make it more accessible to the marginalized populations globally.
To that end, he co-founded a non-profit organization called Destination of Hope Africa, which aims to empower and support orphans and less privileged children in the medically deprived regions of Africa.
Dr. Okpagu holds a medical degree from the American University of Antigua and completed his residency training from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. He also has an MBA degree in healthcare administration to his name.