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What is obesity?

Obesity is a complex condition characterized by the accumulation and storage of excess fat in the body. In addition to causing a cosmetic concern, it also increases your risk for developing life-threatening health problems. According to the World Health Organization, more than 4 million people die each year due to health issues associated with obesity or being overweight.

Causes of Obesity

Obesity is caused by a combination of factors that include:

  • Genetics: Your genes may influence how much fat your body stores and how it is distributed on your body.
  • Poor diet: This involves consuming too many high-calorie foods and beverages of very little nutritive value.
  • Inactivity: A sedentary lifestyle, combined with very little exercise increases the likelihood of weight gain.

Complications of Obesity

Untreated obesity can result in serious health complications such as:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Joint pain
  • Sexual problems
  • Lowered immunity, leading to severe COVID-19 symptoms

Diagnosis of Obesity

A diagnosis of obesity is made based on a physical examination, overall health assessment, and calculation of body mass index (BMI).

To calculate your BMI, divide your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared:

BMI = Weight (kg)/Height (m)2


Divide your weight in pounds by inches squared and multiply this value by 703.

BMI = 703 x weight (lbs) / [height (in)]2

According to the World Health Organisation, anyone with a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.

Treatment of Obesity

Obesity can be treated with lifestyle changes, including healthy eating and regular exercise. However, many obese individuals find it difficult to exercise due to other associated health conditions and have a genetic predisposition that makes weight loss very difficult. In such cases, weight-loss surgery can be the best solution, not only to shed weight quickly but also to improve overall health. Many patients who have undergone weight-loss surgery have noted significant improvement in heart disease and diabetes and have been able to taper off their regular medications.

The various weight-loss surgeries include:

  • Sleeve gastrectomy: This involves reducing the gastric size by removing approximately 80% of the stomach. Surgery is performed under general anesthesia using advanced laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery.
  • Gastric banding: This procedure involves the placement of a silicone band around the top of the stomach via laparoscopic surgery. The band can be taken out later as needed or desired.
  • Gastric bypass: This procedure involves surgically diving the stomach into a small upper pouch and a larger lower section. The upper pouch of the stomach is then connected directly to the small intestine.

The right treatment option for your specific condition will be determined based on a physical examination and review of your medical history.

Other Weight Loss Management Topics

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