Obesity – Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

What is Obesity? Obesity is a chronic disease in which a person weighs at least 20 percent more than what is healthy for their height and body shape. Obesity is measured through a scale called the body mass index, or BMI, which is a ratio of height-to-weight.

When someone is obese, they have an accumulation of excess fat that will often negatively influence physical and mental aspects of their health. The excess body weight comes from the build-up of fat, often in specific areas of the body.  When fat builds up around the stomach, it is called “visceral” fat. The health risks associated with obesity vary depending on where the build-up of fat sits.

Measuring Obesity

The goal of the body mass index scale is to determine a person’s weight level and thereby their risk for obesity related illnesses.  The scale uses basic calculations to gauge a person’s body size based on information about their gender, height and weight.

The BMI scale is as follows:

  • 18.5 to 24.9 is a healthy weight range
  • 25.0 to 29.9 are overweight
  • 30.0 or higher is obese

You can use our BMI calculator to check your own BMI.  Having a BMI greater than 30 will increase your risk for obesity-related health concerns, like sleep apnea, heart disease and type-2 diabetes.  The longer you struggle with obesity, the greater your risk for developing an obesity-related disease becomes.

Causes of Obesity

Obesity is caused by a collection of factors that work together in contributing to weight gain. Obesity is not an issue that develops suddenly. Weight gain starts slowly, gradually building over the course of years.

Many people who struggle with obesity as adults began struggling with their weight as children. The longer someone is obese or overweight, the more difficult it becomes to manage excess weight through conventional methods. Successful, long-term weight management requires making permanent changes to the habits and behaviors that influence weight gain.

Factors that increase your risk for obesity include:

  • Poor dietary habits
  • Frequent overeating
  • Family history of obesity
  • Lack of physical activity

Cultural and environmental influences often contribute to weight gain by encouraging sedentary behavior and making unhealthy food choices readily available for overconsumption.