Obesity isn't just about being heavy—it's a struggle that millions of folks around the world deal with every day. It's about fighting off those cravings for snacks and finding time to move around despite busy schedules. But it's not just about the food; it's also about how we feel and cope.

Obesity Facts, Symptoms, Causes, and How to Overcome It?

Picture sitting at your kitchen table, eyeing those tempting treats and feeling the pull to eat away your emotions. It's a real challenge for many of us dealing with obesity. But with support from friends, family, and folks in the healthcare world, there's a way forward.

Swapping out those sugary snacks for healthier options, finding activities that you enjoy doing, and tackling the emotional side of eating can help turn things around. Let's work together to make the fight against obesity more relatable, with understanding, kindness, and practical steps toward a healthier life.

Understanding Obesity

What is Obesity?

Obesity is defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or higher. BMI is a simple tool that uses height and weight to estimate body fat. While BMI has limitations, it's a widely used starting point for obesity diagnosis. [1]

Overweight vs. Obese

When we talk about weight, it's helpful to understand the difference between being overweight and being obese. Think of it like this: According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, if your BMI (Body Mass Index) falls between 25 and 29.9, you're considered overweight. But if your BMI hits 30 or higher, that's when you're classified as obese. [2]

Being overweight is like a warning signal—it means you're carrying more weight than what's considered healthy for your height. It's a bit like a red light flashing, letting you know there could be health issues ahead if you don't take action.

By tackling weight management when you're overweight, you can help avoid more serious health problems down the line that are linked to obesity. It's all about making gradual changes to your habits and lifestyle to steer clear of the risks of obesity and set yourself on a healthier path for the long haul.

Risks and Complications of Obesity

Telling about possible health issues occurred by obesity, Marc Massad, Certified Pickleball Trainer says that obesity can increase the risk of numerous health issues, such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

health risks of overweight & obesity

Health Risks of Overweight & Obesity. Shutterstock Image

Obesity is a significant risk factor for several chronic health conditions, including: [3]

  • Heart Disease: Obesity can increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: Excess weight can impair your body's ability to use insulin effectively, leading to type 2 diabetes.
  • Certain Cancers: Obesity is linked to an increased risk of developing some cancers, such as breast, colon, and endometrial cancer.
  • Sleep Apnea: This sleep disorder involves pauses in breathing during sleep, which can be worsened by obesity.
  • Joint Problems: Obesity puts extra stress on your joints, increasing the risk of osteoarthritis.

These are just some of the potential health complications associated with obesity. Managing your weight can significantly reduce your risk of developing these conditions.

Causes of Obesity

Research presented at the National Institute of Health highlighted the primary cause of obesity is a calorie imbalance. The excess is stored as fat when you consume more calories than your body burns through physical activity and daily functions. [4] Several factors can contribute to this imbalance:

  • Dietary Factors: Unhealthy food choices high in saturated fat, sugar, and refined carbohydrates contribute to excess calorie intake. Additionally, large portion sizes can lead to overeating.
  • Lack of Physical Activity: A sedentary lifestyle reduces the number of calories your body burns.
  • Genetics: Genes can influence how your body stores and processes fat. While not a direct cause, a family history of obesity can increase your risk.
  • Other Potential Contributors: Sleep deprivation, stress, and certain medications can also play a role in weight gain.

Symptoms of Obesity

symptoms of obesity

Symptoms of Obesity. Shutterstock Image

In a recent study published on obesity, researchers found that symptoms can vary significantly from person to person. [5] Common physical indicators often include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Joint pain or stiffness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping

Obesity can also affect your emotional and psychological well-being, leading to:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Body image issues

It's important to note that not everyone with obesity will experience all of these symptoms. However, consulting a doctor is crucial if you're concerned about your weight or are experiencing any of these issues.

Overcoming Obesity: Taking Charge of Your Health

To address obesity, Laura Geigaite, MD, Psychologist and Dermatologist suggests to adopt a holistic approach that includes regular physical activity, balanced nutrition, stress management, and behavioral therapy. Setting realistic goals, gradually implementing lifestyle changes, and seeking support from healthcare professionals or support groups can significantly enhance success in weight management.

taking charge of your health overweight & obesity

Taking Charge of Your Health Overweight & Obesity. Shutterstock Image

Losing weight and managing obesity requires a commitment to healthy lifestyle changes. Here are some key steps you can take:

  • Focus on Gradual Changes: Aim for small, sustainable changes you can maintain over time. Trying to overhaul your entire lifestyle simultaneously can be overwhelming and counterproductive.
  • Dietary Modifications: Eat whole, unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Embrace portion control and limit sugary drinks, processed foods, and unhealthy fats.
  • Increase Physical Activity: Find activities you enjoy, whether it's brisk walking, swimming, or dancing. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.
  • Seek Professional Help: A doctor or registered dietitian can offer personalized guidance, motivation, and support in your weight management journey.

Remember, losing weight is a marathon, not a sprint. Celebrate your milestones, be patient with yourself, and don't get discouraged by setbacks.

Conclusion: Maintaining a Healthy Weight for a Healthy Life

Obesity is a serious health concern, but it's also a manageable one. By taking control of your dietary choices, increasing physical activity, and seeking professional support when needed, you can achieve a healthier weight and improve your overall well-being. Remember, managing your weight is an investment in your future health. Embrace a healthy lifestyle, and empower yourself to live a long, fulfilling life.

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5 Sources

We review published medical research in respected scientific journals to arrive at our conclusions about a product or health topic. This ensures the highest standard of scientific accuracy.

[1] Khanna D, Peltzer C, Kahar P, Parmar MS. Body Mass Index (BMI): A Screening Tool Analysis. Cureus. 2022 Feb 11;14(2):e22119. doi: 10.7759/cureus.22119. PMID: 35308730; PMCID: PMC8920809.
[2] "Body Mass Index, BMI Calculator, Healthy BMI." 12 Mar. 2024, www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/bmitools.htm.
[3] "Health Risks of Overweight & Obesity." National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 30 Oct. 2023, www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/adult-overweight-obesity/health-risks.
[4] "Causes and Risk Factors." NHLBI, NIH, 12 Mar. 2024, www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/overweight-and-obesity/causes.
[5] "Symptoms and Diagnosis." NHLBI, NIH, 12 Mar. 2024, www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/overweight-and-obesity/symptoms.

Katie Whetstone, RD

Katie Whetstone is a Registered Dietitian with a plant-based approach. Her interests include clinical practice, mental health, sports,