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Decoding Obesity: Types, Causes, and Health Impacts

What is Obesity?

Obesity is not just about the numbers on a scale; it’s a multifaceted condition characterized by an excessive accumulation of body fat. Beyond appearance, it poses significant health risks and challenges.

What are the different types of obesity?

Healthcare providers categorize obesity into classes, assessing its severity through the Body Mass Index (BMI). If your BMI falls within the range of 25.0 to 29.9 kg/m², you are classified as overweight.

There are three primary classes of obesity, aiding healthcare providers in determining suitable treatments for individuals:

  • Class I obesity: BMI 30 to <35 kg/m²
  • Class II obesity: BMI 35 to <40 kg/m²
  • Class III obesity: BMI 40+ kg/m².

Visceral fat Versus Subcutaneous fat

  • Visceral fat

Visceral or “toxic fat” is fat stored in the deep recesses of your body. 

Most fats are stored under the skin, called subcutaneous fat. These predominant fat types are visible and palpable. The rest of the fat in your body is stored around your internal organs, such as your heart, liver, and intestines. Visceral fat. 

Visceral fats accumulate around internal organs. Thus, leading to an increased risk of cardiovascular issues and metabolic disturbances. 

What distinguishes visceral fat is its production of chemicals and hormones. These chemicals and hormones are toxic to the body.

In comparison to subcutaneous fat, visceral fat generates a higher quantity of toxic substances. Thus, poses a potentially greater threat to your health.

  • Subcutaneous fat

It is characterized by excess fat beneath the skin. This type of obesity is more visibly apparent. It contributes to a higher body mass index (BMI). Subcutaneous fat:

  • Aids in the movement of blood vessels and nerves from the skin to the muscles.
  • Protects your muscles and bones from bumps and falls.
  • Special connective tissue connects the middle layer of skin (dermis) to your muscles and bones.
  • Controls your body temperature, preventing you from becoming overly hot or chilly.

What causes obesity?

Obesity results from an imbalance—when your calorie intake surpasses your body’s utilization. Various factors contribute to this condition, such as:

  1. Dietary Habits: Consuming low-nutrient, high-calorie foods that lead to weight gain.
  2. Lack of Physical Activity: Not moving much slows down calorie burning. Thus, leading to weight-related issues.
  3. Genetic Predisposition: While genetics play a role, lifestyle choices significantly impact obesity.

Other factors may include:

  • Overconsumption of fast and convenience foods: Quick and easy processed foods, often loaded with sugar and fat, can lead to too many calories. In some areas, these options might be the main food choices due to availability and affordability.
  • Ubiquitous Sugar: Sugar is found in many foods, even everyday ones. The food industry, focused on profit, often emphasizes addictive taste rather than nutritional value, shaping our taste preferences.

What are the health risks of being obese?

Obesity is defined as weighing more than is healthy for a certain height. Obesity is a dangerous, long-term condition. It can cause various health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, and some malignancies. 

Those who are obese have higher chances of developing health problems including:

  • High blood pressure or hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack due to heart failure, stroke, or coronary heart disease
  • High cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Sleep apnea and other breathing problems during sleep
  • Joint and bone disease which may lead to osteoarthritis
  • Liver problems
  • Gallstones
  • Cancer

What are the treatment and management options for obesity?

The treatment and management options for obesity typically involve:

1.  Dietary Changes:

·      Adopting a balanced and nutritious diet with a focus on whole foods.

·      Controlling portion sizes to manage calorie intake.

·      Limiting the consumption of high-calorie and processed foods.

·      Seeking guidance from a registered dietitian for personalized meal plans.

2.  Regular Physical Activity:

·      Incorporating regular exercise into daily routines.

·      Engaging in both aerobic exercises (e.g., walking, jogging, swimming) and strength training.

·      Gradually increase activity levels to promote weight loss.

3.  Behavioral Therapy:

·      Identifying and addressing unhealthy eating behaviors.

·      Setting realistic and achievable weight loss goals.

·      Implementing strategies to manage stress and emotional eating.

4.  Medical Interventions:

·      Medications: Some medications may be prescribed to help with weight loss by suppressing appetite or reducing fat absorption.

·      Bariatric Surgery: Surgical procedures like gastric bypass or gastric sleeve may be considered for individuals with severe obesity.

5.  Lifestyle Modification Programs:

·      Joining structured weight management programs that offer guidance and support.

·      Participating in group therapy or counseling sessions for behavioral changes.