Obesity is the most common nutritional disorder in Britain today and remains a great problem in most European countries and in North America. A survey of British adults in 1991 showed that 13% of men and 15% of women were obese.

A person is described as obese if they weigh at least 20% more the average for someone of their height and overall frame size. It can be measured more scientifically by measuring the amount of fat in the body compared with total body weight. For young men, fat is about 12% of normal weight and for young women about 26%. A figure of more than 20% for a man and 30% for a woman could be considered as indicating obesity.

Causes of Obesity

Obesity is caused when energy input as a result of eating is greater than the energy used. Extra fat, carbohydrate, protein or alcohol can be converted into body fat. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the person eats a lot. Surveys have shown that many obese people eat no more than thin people. There are some exceptions, and other factors, such as little physical exercise, may be important.

One man who weighed amount 356kg (57 stone) used to eat 15 chickens at a time. The amount of excess food needed to produce obesity may be relatively small. Over time, the excess calories can add up and cause obesity. Apart from the quantity of food, the nature of the food may also be a factor. High energy foods such as carbohydrates and fats are more likely to cause problems.

Obesity often runs in families and there is probably some genetic predisposition in some sufferers. Occasionally it is due to physiological disorder, particularly involving the hypothalamus or under activity of the thyroid gland.

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Effects of Obesity

Cardiovascular disease is more common in obese people because blood cholesterol levels are typically high and high blood pressure is more common. There is a greater tendency for atherosclerosis in the coronary arteries, with an increased incidence of varicose veins.

The extra load on the skeleton commonly causes mechanical difficulties. Flat feet, osteoarthritis of joints, slipped disc and back problems are more common. Hernias are also common. Movement becomes restricted and difficult and is often slow and awkward. Accidents may happen as a result. Diabetes and some form of cancers (e.g. gallbladder) are more common in obese people.

Obesity can create emotional problems. Children may become figures of fun and subject to teasing and bullying. Adults are constantly reminded of the association between attractiveness and slim body of advertising.

Not surprisingly, life expectancy is reduced as a result of obesity. Insurance companies have calculated that a man of 45 who is 10kg overweight reduces his life expectancy by 25%. The risks are slightly for women.

Remedy for Obesity

The energy content of the diet must be reduced to the point where energy output is greater than energy input. This should continue until normal weight is restored. This involves counseling the person so that they understand the nature of the nature of the problem and can start a low energy diet. A program of physical exercise may also be recommended.

Also, people suffering from obesity may also go through a surgical procedure known as Bariatric Surgery. This is one of the types of surgery recommended for obese people. Bariatric surgery includes a variety of procedures performed on people who have obesity. Weight loss is achieved by reducing the size of the stomach with a gastric band or through the removal of a portion of the stomach.

Written by Chief Health

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