By Shaffer, Michael
By Spader, Catherine RN

What is obesity?

Obesity is a common condition in which there is an excessive amount of body fat to a degree that puts a person at risk for serious chronic health problems, such as diabetes or hypertension. Obesity is a major health epidemic that affects all populations, regardless of gender or race, and it is becoming more common in children as well as adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 34% of the U.S. adult population is obese and 5.9% is extremely obese (Source: CDC).

Obesity is caused by eating more calories than the body consumes (burns off) for energy over a period of time. Obesity is not necessarily the same thing as being overweight. Overweight is defined as weighing more than what is generally considered normal based on your height. However, being overweight can occasionally be caused by increased muscle size or water retention and does not always mean that someone is unhealthy. For example, some athletes may be considered overweight because of having developed muscles, which weigh more than fat, while still having a healthy level of body fat.

Obesity can take a major toll on your physical health, affecting virtually every organ and body system, including the musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive and reproductive systems. The good news is that losing even 5% to 10% of your weight can delay or prevent obesity-related diseases.

Obesity increases the risk for dangerous conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and cancer. Seek prompt medical care if you experience weight gain. Following a medically recommended weight loss plan can help you reduce the risk of serious diseases associated with obesity.


What are the symptoms of obesity?

General symptoms of obesity include weight gain, needing to buy progressively larger-sized clothing, and a change in the shape of your body due to the accumulation of excessive fat. In men, excessive fat stores tend to accumulate in the waist. In women, extra fat is often stored in the hips and thighs. However, in both sexes, extra fat can accumulate throughout the body, including areas such as... Read more about obesitysymptoms


What causes obesity?

Obesity is caused by consuming more calories than necessary to fuel your body’s activity level and metabolic processes in a given time period. Extra calories are stored as fat if there is not a corresponding increase in exercise to burn calories. Primary causes of an increase in stored body fat include:

  • Diets that are high in calories, fat and sugar

    Read more about obesitycauses


How is obesity treated?

In most cases, obesity in adults and children results from consuming too many calories and not getting enough physical activity. Treatment of obesity includes developing and following a sensible, comprehensive lifelong plan to reduce your caloric intake while ensuring good nutrition and hydration, and increasing physical activity. Effective plans often incorporate some form of support through a... Read more about obesitytreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

Your Guide to Obesity

This Article is Filed Under: Obesity, Metabolic System

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