Obesity is defined as having a body mass index which is severely more than the normal. The body mass index (BMI) is based on one’s height and body weight and the Waist–hip ratio or waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) is the ratio of the circumference of the waist to that of the hips; these are the primary criteria for the detection of obesity. Obesity is a growing concern in our society today because it is highly associated with different conditions which include heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and metabolic syndrome. Although it is a metabolic condition, it imposes a lot of cardiovascular risk.
From another perspective, obesity is defined as the state of having excess body fat. Most often, it is confused to be the state of simply gaining weight. The condition should not be confused with weight gain, because a muscular person could gain weight because of increased muscle bulk but not necessary because of fat cells.
Obesity therefore is considered when there is excess body fat, a high body mass index, and the presence of associated risk factors. The stresses of life today forced people to welcome fast foods and other “refined” foods that are high in sugar content and low in nutritional value. People are easily tempted to eat more than what the body requires. All of these factors combined with family history increases the likelihood of having more body fat and becoming obese.
The rates of obesity have been steadily increasing all over the world. According to the WHO, last 2014 more than 1.9 billion adults are overweight and that approximately 600 million of these were obese. Significant obesity measurements were noted starting from 18 years old. The risk of being overweight or obese doubles with age because of age-related decrease in metabolic rate.
Obesity is a health condition which affects almost all countries in the globe including Australia. The latest Australian Bureau of Statistic states that 2 out of 3 (63%) Australian adults are overweight or obese. Also, they found out that 1 out of 4 (25%) Australian children are already overweight or obese.
The condition is more common in women than in men because of the hormonal influence and body fat distribution. It is also noted to affect more people living in remote and regional areas. Obesity is one of the contributors to the burden of different diseases. Although, these figures are certainly alarming and disturbing, we should not lose hope because obesity is a preventable and manageable..
Cause and how it affects the body
Obesity can result from increased energy intake, decreased energy expenditure, or the combination of the two. The aetiology and pathogenesis of the condition is discussed below.
- Quality and quantity of food intake
The cause of obesity and overweight is simple – it is due to the prolonged excessive nutrient intake which is out of balanced compared to the energy requirements. Overeating can significantly affect the normal metabolic regulation of nutrients. When people repeatedly eat more than what is required, the excess carbohyrdrates absorbed by the body are converted into fat and are stored into adipose tissues. The process of fat formation and fat storage continuously occur for as long as there is an excess carbohydrate intake.
Other literatures confirm that the dietary composition could also lead to the development of obesity. A high fat diet combined with a high carbohydrate diet promotes fat storage and obesity. The quality and quantity of food intake is therefore very important. Eating too much of unhealthy food will certainly lead to obesity.
- Physical inactivity
Although a sedentary lifestyle is associated with obesity, overeating has a major role in the development of the condition. In children, obesity is associated at a certain degree to the time spent watching television or using the computer and I diet of refined and fast foods.
- Hereditary factors
Weight could also be inherited just like our height. Hereditary and genetic factors influence a person to be more susceptible to obesity. People who have hereditary factors develop obesity because of altered hormonal regulation particularly with the hormone leptin. Childhood obesity is likely to be associated with hereditary factors. Ultimately environment is the larger factor of obesity, genetics only play a minor role.
Signs and Symptoms
Weight gain is a common symptom plus the noticeable increase in waist circumference. Excess food intake is also a noticeable symptom that most obese people try to deny. A person’s increase in body mass index (BMI) is also a sign of obesity. The BMI is measured by dividing your body weight (in kilograms) by your height (in meters squared). Further, our BMI measurement has an equivalent classification which includes:
|18.5 – 24.9||Normal|
|25.0 – 29.9||Overweight|
|30.0 – 34.9||Obese I|
|35.0 – 39.9||Obese II|
During your clinic visit you will be interviewed about your dietary intake and noticeable changes in weight. A physical examination will be performed to determine the type of obesity that the patient has. The measurement of one’s BMI is the usual way of diagnosing obesity. However, there are also other means to measure excess body fat which includes anthropometric measurements (waist circumference), skin fold thickness, densitometry, CT scan and MRI.One of the options available is a body composite analysis (BCA) which is used to describe the percentages of fat, bone, water and muscle in human bodies. Because muscular tissue takes up less space in our body than fat tissue, our body composition, as well as our weight, determines leanness. Here at the Nutrition & Weight Loss Company we can offer you a BCA report to ascertain your percentages.
Obesity is a condition which is treatable and preventable. However, the treatment of obesity and overweight should be properly guided for optimum results. The management of overweight and obesity should focus on the underlying cause. Lifestyle modification is the first line of management for obesity.
- Lifestyle modification
Lifestyle modification for obesity management focuses on three main elements which include diet therapy, behaviour modification, and physical activity. Lifestyle modification has been shown to result in significant and prolonged weight loss.
- Adequate Protein and Low Carbohydrate Diet
The main goal of diet therapy is to reduce total calorie consumption in order to attain a normal and healthy body weight. Remember that the quality and quantity of food intake is also important in the management of obesity. So aside from just reducing total calorie intake, we should also take note of the nutritional content of the diet.
Diet therapy promotes the intake of healthy protein and restricts sweet, greasy, and sugary foods. Several studies show that there is significantly greater weight loss in guided high-protein diets compared to low-fat diets. It is even beneficial to one’s body composition because it promotes lean body mass. Patients would not have difficulty following the high protein diet since it promotes quality food intake, suppresses appetite, and increases the body’s metabolism.
Another benefit of the high-protein diet is its ability to sustain weight loss for longer duration compared to other diet programs. A low carbohydrate diet composition is also widely known as an effective weight loss method. Therefore the combination of a high protein – low carbohydrate diet yields to synergistic results.
A study published in the Journal of Paediatrics stated that the combination of high protein, low carbohydrate diet is the most recommended diet therapy for obese patients. With proper guidance, patients can lose 1.5-3 kilos in just a week.
- Physical Activity
Exercise and physical activity is often combined with proper diet because it aids in the maintenance of weight loss. Exercising for at least 150 minutes in a week is needed to sustain weight loss and maintain a healthy weight. Simple physical activities like walking and doing household chores are also encouraged in the initial phase of therapy. Interesting fact is that only 15-20% of exercise contributes to weight loss. The remaining 80 – 85% is what you put in your mouth, which is why diet is so important in weight loss success.
- Behaviour Modification
Behaviour modification is very important in the long term management of obesity. All of the management performed would be useless without healthy eating behaviour and practices. Again, this form of obesity management needs proper guidance and assistance.
Drugs and Surgery are two additional options which can be considered but remember Conservative therapy first, Drugs second and surgery last!
Obesity is a global concern because of its cardiovascular risks. There are different treatment options for the condition. Obesity has an overall good prognosis and reduced cardiovascular risk with aggressive treatment. However, if the condition is left untreated it could lead to other ailments and serious complications.
Obesity could be prevented by following a healthy diet program and staying active. These are the two primary components of obesity prevention. Keep your body mass index, body weight, and waist circumference within normal levels.
You can contact us or visit our office for more information regarding the diet therapy, behaviour modification, and obesity prevention. We have health experts who would be happy to assist you in the management and prevention the condition. Our staff could also help your with your concerns regarding obesity and overweight.
If you are ready to get started…
- Overweight and obesity. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Retrieved on 20 May 2015 from http://www.aihw.gov.au/overweight-and-obesity/.
- Krebs, N., Gao, D., Gralla, J., Collins, J., & Johnson, S. (2010) Journal of Paediatrics; 157(2): 252-258.
- Makris, A., Foster, G., (2012) Dietary Approaches to the Treatment of Obesity. Psychiatr Clin North Am; 34(4): 813-827.
- Overweight and Obesity. (2012) National Institutes of Health. Retrieved on 20 May 2015 from http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/obe/diagnosis.
- No Author. Obesity. Mayo Clinic: Disease and Conditions. Retrieved on 20 May 2015 from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/obesity/basics/symptoms/con-20014834.
- (2015) Obesity and overweight. World Health Organization. Retrieved on 20 May 2015 from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs311/en/.