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Obesity & Consequences

Obesity: A Disease

Obesity is defined as having too much body fat, which develops when the intake of fats for the use of energy exceeds its expenditure. It is measured as body mass index (BMI). To know more about BMI, please click here.

Obesity is a growing problem around the world. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity is emerging as an epidemic and is spreading rapidly across the world. In the US, an estimated 97 million adults are overweight or obese which represents more than 50% of the American adult population. Among them, 11 million adults suffer from severe obesity.

According to the American Obesity Association, obesity poses an increased risk of death by 50-100% when compared to normal weight, with 300,000 to 587,000 annual deaths. Owing to the significant increase in health risks, obesity has become the second leading cause of preventable deaths in the US.

Causes of Obesity

A variety of factors contribute to obesity which makes it a complex health issue to address. A combination of any or all of the following is considered:

  • excessive food intake
  • lack of physical activity, and
  • genetic susceptibility

A few cases are caused primarily by genes, endocrine disorders, medications, or mental illness. Evidence to support the view that obese people eat little yet gain weight due to a slow metabolism is not generally supported. On average, obese people have a greater energy expenditure than their thin counterparts due to the energy required to maintain an increased body mass.

Body Mass Index

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a method of assessing whether an individual’s weight falls within the healthy range or not. It is a good indicator of body fat. BMI does not differentiate between body fat and muscle mass. Hence, body builders and people with muscle bulk show a high BMI although they are not overweight or obese. BMI is an easy-to-perform and inexpensive method to ascertain if a person’s present weight could potentially lead to health problems in the future.

However, remember that BMI is not a diagnostic tool. To know whether your excess weight could be a health risk in the future, please visit your physician. Your physician can guide you for further assessments which include:

  • Family history
  • Evaluations of diet and physical activity
  • Skinfold thickness measurements

BMI Calculator

Calculate your body mass index (BMI), by entering the following information.

BMI Calculator
Weight: (Kg)
Height: (Cm)  
Body Mass Index: 

If you want to compare your weight status to others, BMI is a great method of analysis.

BMI Classification Health Risk
Under 18.5 Underweight Minimal
18.5 - 24.9 Normal Weight Minimal
25 - 29.9 Overweight Increased
30 - 34.9 Obese High
35 - 39.9 Severely Obese Very High
40 and over Morbidly Obese Extremely High

Consequences of Obesity

Obesity is associated with many serious physiological, psychological and social consequences, as listed below.

Physiological consequences of obesity are:

  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Cancer (breast, uterine and colon cancer)
  • Digestive disorders (gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD)
  • Breathing problems (asthma)
  • Problems with fertility and pregnancy
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Joint problems (arthritis)
  • Shorter life expectancy

Psychological and social consequences of obesity are:

  • Negative self-image
  • Social discrimination and isolation
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

Other consequences include:

  • Difficulty in performing normal tasks, as movement becomes more difficult
  • Feeling tired more quickly
  • Experiencing shortness of breath
  • Difficulty in using public transport seats and driving cars
  • Difficulty in maintaining personal hygiene