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Obesity - Diagnosis, Symptoms, and Treatment


What is Obesity?

Obesity is the state of having too much body fat in comparison to lean muscle mass. Obesity is not just a common concern for the outward appearance of a person, but carrying excess weight can also lead to certain health conditions such as heart problems, hypertension, and a tremendous increase in blood sugar levels.

Obesity is often measured by doctors or health care providers using a universal formula based on your current height and weight. This formula is called the Body Mass Index or BMI. The status of your weight is scaled from underweight, normal, overweight, obese, and up to extreme obesity.

Today, approximately one-third of the adults in the United States are confirmed to be obese. That is nearly 33.8% of the country’s entire population. On the other hand, for the children and adolescents that are aged 2 – 9 years old, 17% of them or a total of 12.5 million are considered obese.

Symptoms of Obesity

In order to know if you are having symptoms of obesity, simply check your body mass index (BMI) and see if it reaches a score of 30 or above. Your BMI is calculated by using the following formula: weight in kilograms divided by height in meters, squared. See BMI chart below for more details:

BMI Weight status
Below 18.5 Underweight
18.5 — 24.9 Normal
25.0 — 29.9 Overweight
30.0 and higher Obese
40.0 and higher Extreme obesity

It is very important to consult with your doctor in order to confirm obesity as in some cases, a person may reach a score of 30 or above, however the percentage may be the result of their massive muscle structure.

What causes Obesity?

There are a number of factors, both physically and environmentally that can cause obesity in a person. Some health professionals consider familial history as a contributing factor. However, for many Americans, obesity is the result of storing more calories in the body rather than burning them through exercise and a proportional amount of physical activity. Obesity may be caused by the following factors:

  • Idleness
  • High fat, high calorie diet and eating habits
  • Pregnancy
  • Insufficient amount of sleep on a regular basis
  • Some types of medications
  • Some types of medical conditions

Diagnosis of Obesity

In order to confirm your diagnosis of obesity, the doctor will conduct certain physical examinations and tests. These normally include:

  • BMI calculation
  • Physical Examination
  • Blood analysis
  • Taking note of waistline circumference
  • Checking health history and noting any medical conditions or problems

Treatment of Obesity

Helping you reach a healthy and correct body weight would be the primary goal of the treatment of obesity. Treatment could involve services from a number of health professionals including a dietitian, nutritionist, and specialist in obesity.

Obesity is a condition that can be positively affected in a relatively short period of time when efforts are focused on altering diet to make healthier choices and increases physical activity. For most people struggling with their weight, losing 5 to 10 percent of their current weight makes a noticeable difference in how they feel and their level of mobility.
There are different treatment methods to address obesity and may include:

  • Exercise
  • Alteration of diet
  • Alteration of behavior
  • Intake of weight-loss medicines
  • Surgery

The first three are the most commonly used methods in treating obesity; however, if the case is deemed serious, medications and surgery might be recommended by your doctor.

Prevention and Management of Obesity

The steps to prevent obesity are no different than the steps for losing weight. Whether a person is currently struggling with their weight or just wants to have a healthy lifestyle, it is essential to take these steps:

  • Regular exercise
  • Healthy eating habits
  • Awareness and avoidance of poor eating habits
  • Check your weight regularly
  • Maintaining healthy eating habits and regular exercise over an extended period of time

The prevention and management of obesity is possible. Although for many, staying committed to consistently eating a healthy balanced diet and maintaining regular levels of exercise and physical activity may be difficult, it can be done. Focus and commitment are certainly required to prevent the development of a weight problem, but also to maintain after there has been significant weight loss. Some other ways to assist in preventing or managing a healthy body weight may also include:

  • Tracking caloric intake, physical activity, triggers for eating inappropriately, and/or feelings regarding current weight
  • Participating in a support group such as Overeaters Anonymous.
  • Participating in a weight management program.
  • Receiving regular health checks from your physician