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Understand Overweight and Obesity

This article is meant for informational purposes only. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your physician.


                                                             Dr. G. M. Siddiqui, M.D

                                                             CEO, Medical Services, Lifeline Healthcare.




Obesity is a complex disorder involving an excessive amount of body fat. Being extremely obese means you are especially likely to have health problems related to your weight. It increases your risk of diseases and health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

The good news is that even modest weight loss can improve or prevent the health problems associated with obesity. Dietary changes, increased physical activity and behavior changes can help you lose weight. Prescription medications and weight-loss surgery are additional options for treating obesity.

Am I Obese?

Obesity is diagnosed when your body mass index (BMI) is 30 or higher. Your body mass index is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms (kg) by your height in meters (m) squared. If your body weight is 100kg and height is 1.5m, then your BMI is 100 / (1.5x1.5) = 44.5.


Weight status

 Below 18.5







Obese (Class I)


Obese (Class II)

40.0 and higher

Extreme obesity (Class III)




Although there are genetic, behavioral and hormonal influences on body weight, obesity occurs when you take in more calories than you burn through exercise and normal daily activities. Your body stores these excess calories as fat.
 Obesity can sometimes be traced to a medical cause. However, these disorders are rare and, in general, the principal causes of obesity are:

•  Inactivity.
 If you're not very active, you don't burn as many calories. With a sedentary lifestyle, you can easily take in more calories every day than you use through exercise and normal daily activities.

•   Unhealthy diet and eating habits.
 Weight gain is inevitable if you regularly eat more calories than you burn.


Risk Factors 

Obesity usually results from a combination of causes and contributing factors, including:

  Genetics. Your genes may affect the amount of body fat you store, and where that fat is distributed. Genetics may also play a role in how efficiently your body converts food into energy and how your body burns calories during exercise.
  Family lifestyle. Obesity tends to run in families. Family members tend to share similar eating and activity habits.
• Inactivity. If you're not very active, you don't burn as many calories. With a sedentary lifestyle, you can easily take in more calories every day than you burn through exercise and routine daily activities.
  Unhealthy diet. A diet that's high in calories, lacking in fruits and vegetables, full of fast food, and laden with high-calorie beverages contributes to weight gain.
  Medical problems. In some people, obesity can be traced to a medical cause.
  Certain medications. Some medications can lead to weight gain if you don't compensate through diet or activity. Ask doctor if you think so.
  Social and economic issues. Research has linked social and economic factors to obesity. The people you spend time with may influence your weight — you're more likely to become obese if you have obese friends or relatives.
 Age. Obesity can occur at any age, even in young children. But as you age, hormonal changes and a less active lifestyle increase your risk of obesity. If you don't consciously control what you eat and become more physically active as you age, you'll likely gain weight.
  Pregnancy. During pregnancy, a woman's weight necessarily increases. Some women find this weight difficult to lose after the baby is born. This weight gain may contribute to the development of obesity in women.
 Lack of sleep. Not getting enough sleep or getting too much sleep can cause changes in hormones that increase your appetite and can contribute to weight gain.

 Even if you have one or more of these risk factors, it doesn't mean that you're destined to become obese. You can counteract most risk factors through diet, physical activity and exercise, and behavior changes.


If you're obese, you're more likely to develop a number of potentially serious health problems, including:

  • » High triglycerides and low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol
  • » Type 2 diabetes
  • » High blood pressure
  • » Metabolic syndrome — a combination of high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high triglycerides and low  HDL cholesterol
  • » Heart disease
  • » Stroke
  • » Cancer, including cancer of the uterus, cervix, endometrium, ovaries, breast, colon, rectum, esophagus, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, kidney and prostate
  • » Breathing disorders, including sleep apnea, a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts
  • » Gallbladder disease
  • » Gynecological problems, such as infertility and irregular periods
  • » Erectile dysfunction and sexual health issues
  • » Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition in which fat builds up in the liver and can cause inflammation  or scarring
  • » Osteoarthritis

Quality of Life

When you're obese, your overall quality of life may be diminished. You may not be able to do things you used to do. Obese people may even encounter discrimination.

Other weight-related issues that may affect your quality of life include:

  • •  Depression
  • •  Disability
  • •  Sexual problems
  • •  Shame and guilt
  • •  Social isolation
  • •  Lower work achievement


Treatments and Drugs

 At Lifeline Healthcare, we take the time to listen, to find answers to your problems, and to provide you the best care at your home. Request an Appointment for Consultation.

The goal of obesity treatment is to reach and stay at a healthy weight. You may need to work with a team of health professionals — including a dietitian, behavior counselor or an obesity specialist — to help you understand and make changes in your eating and activity habits.

All weight-loss programs require changes in your eating habits and increased physical activity. The treatment methods that are right for you depend on your level of obesity, your overall health and your willingness to participate in your weight-loss plan.

Other treatment tools include:

  • •  Dietary changes
  • •  Exercise and activity
  • •  Behavior change
  • •  Prescription weight-loss medications
  • •  Weight-loss surgery

Plan to participate in a comprehensive weight-loss program for at least six months and in the maintenance phase of a program for at least a year to boost your odds of weight-loss success.

Dietary Changes

Reducing calories and practicing healthier eating habits are vital to overcoming obesity. Avoid drastic and unrealistic diet changes, such as crash diets, because they're unlikely to help you keep excess weight off for the long term.

There is no best weight-loss diet. Choose one that includes healthy foods that you feel will work for you. Dietary changes to treat obesity include:

  • •  Cutting calories. The key to weight loss is reducing how many calories you take in. You and your doctor can decide how many calories you need to take in each day to lose weight, but a typical amount is 1,200 to 1,500 calories for women and 1,500 to 1,800 for men.
  • •  Feeling full on less. By eating larger portions of foods that have fewer calories, you reduce hunger pangs, take in fewer calories and feel better about your meal, which contributes to how satisfied you feel overall. Ask dietician if you are not sure.
  • •  Making healthier choices. To make your overall diet healthier, eat more plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole-grain carbohydrates. Also emphasize lean sources of protein — such as beans, lentils and soy — and lean meats and fish. Limit salt and added sugar. Stick with low-fat dairy products.
  • •  Restricting certain foods. Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages is a sure way to consume more calories than you intended, and eliminating them altogether is a good place to start cutting calories.

Be wary of quick fixes. The reality, however, is that there are no magic foods or quick fixes. To lose weight — and keep it off — you have to adopt healthy-eating habits that you can maintain over time.

Exercise and Activity

Increased physical activity or exercise is an essential part of obesity treatment.

To boost your activity level:

  • •  Exercise. People who are overweight or obese need to get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity to prevent further weight gain or to maintain the loss of a modest amount of weight. You probably will need to gradually increase the amount you exercise as your endurance and fitness improve.
  • •  Keep moving. Even though regular aerobic exercise is the most efficient way to burn calories and shed excess weight, any extra movement helps burn calories.

Behavior Changes

A behavior modification program can help you make lifestyle changes and lose weight and keep it off. Tailor your behavior changes to address your individual concerns.

Behavior modification, sometimes called behavior therapy, can include:

  • • Counseling. Therapy or interventions with trained mental health or other professionals can help you address emotional and behavioral issues related to eating. You can also learn how to monitor your diet and activity, understand eating triggers, and cope with food cravings.
  • •  Support groups. You can find camaraderie and understanding in support groups where others share similar challenges with obesity.


Other Treatments

These include:

  •  Prescription weight-loss medication
  • •  Weight-loss surgery


Preventing weight regain after obesity treatment

  •  Unfortunately, it's common to regain weight no matter what obesity treatment methods you try. But that doesn't mean your weight-loss efforts are futile.
  • •  One of the best ways to prevent regaining the weight you've lost is to get regular physical activity. Aim for at least 30 minutes a day and 5 days in a weak.
  • •  Keep track of your physical activity if it helps you stay motivated and on course.
  • You may always have to remain vigilant about your weight. Combining a healthier diet and more activity in a practical and sustainable manner are the best ways to keep the weight you lost off for the long term.