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Obesity

Obesity is used for people who are seriously overweight. Obesity is measured by the Body Mass Index (BMI) graph. The BMI is worked out, using measurements from height (in m2 – i.e. your height x your height) and weight (in kg). When the graph shows the BMI is 30 or more, this means the person is obese. Those with a BMI between 25 to 30 are overweight. For most people, their BMI should be between 20 and 25.

Obesity starts when a person eats lots of calories and does not burn enough calories, and the body gets more calories than it needs. The extra calories are then changed into fat for ‘emergencies’ when no food is available. The more the body stores fat, the fatter the person gets. The person is obese when he/she is 2 to 3 stones (or more) over their recommended weight level.

People who are very active (e.g. regularly doing a lot of exercise) have high metabolic rates, and those often sitting or doing nothing much have low metabolic rates. Metabolic rates measure how quick the calories are used up by the body. Active people burn calories much faster than those who do nothing. Those who do little will end up with too much calories in their bodies and end up getting fatter.

For example, people who work outside, such as on a building site, may need to eat around 4000 – 5000 calories a day to keep their ‘normal’ body weight, whereas people who sit a lot during the day at work , e.g. in an office or driving a lorry, only need around 1500 calories a day as they do not exercise much.

Obesity is a growing to be a major health problem with more and more adults becoming obese over the last 25 years (4 times more nowadays than 25 years ago). Childhood obesity is now 3 times more than 20 years ago. This may mean those children who are obese may have serious health problems when they are adults. One main reason for this growing problem is that a lot of food nowadays are high in calories, e.g. ready made meals, takeaways, snacks high in calories and bigger portions. Alcohol also has calories. We often eat more than our bodies actually need to keep going. Few people are obese because of a medical condition, e.g. too much steroid hormones in the body.

Apart from the BMI, symptoms of obesity are:

  • Breathlessness
  • Excessive sweating (sweating a lot)
  • Snoring
  • Sleeping problems
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Pain in the back and joints.

Long term effects from obesity may include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes
  • High cholesterol levels (fats blocking up blood arteries (tubes) in your body)
  • Heart disease
  • Cancers of the colon, breast, kidney, stomach – if the person is exercising very little
  • Breast cancer for women
  • Osteoarthritis – bones becoming weaker and easier to break
  • Gall bladder disease and gall stones
  • Gastro-oesophageal efflux disease (acid from the stomach going up into the oesophagus (gullet)
  • Arthritis of the back, hips, knees and ankles
  • Diabetes
  • Infertility – difficulty in getting pregnant for women or men having difficulty to get a woman pregnant
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) – cysts within the ovaries
  • Reduced lifespan – dying early
  • Depression
  • Psychological problems, e.g. low confidence, feelings of isolation, finding life hard to cope with

If a person is obese, what can be done? The best way to deal with this is to eat less calories and exercise more. A large part of food eaten every day should include fruit, vegetables and unrefined carbohydrates (e.g. wholegrain food). Eat less food with high calories and high in fat. It is not a good idea to lose weight quickly as this often fails. It is better to lose weight slowly over time. Eat 3 meals a day as it will help reduce feelings of hunger.


Check out the other sections below...

Contraception
Contraception
Drugs
Drugs
Money Management
Money Management
Sexually Transmitted Infections
Sexually Transmitted Infections
Volunteering
Volunteering
Skin Cancer and the Sun
Skin Cancer and the Sun
Smoking
Smoking
Alcohol
Alcohol
Diabetes
Diabetes
Obesity
Obesity