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Causes, Health Risks and Treatment of Adult and Child Obesity
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Definition of Obese (Severe Excess Body Fat)


Definition of Obese

To most people, the term "obesity" means to be very overweight. Health experts define "overweight" as an excess amount of body weight that includes muscle, bone, fat, and water. By contrast, "obesity" specifically refers to an excess amount of body fat. Some people, such as bodybuilders or other athletes with a lot of muscle, can be overweight without being obese.

A Worldwide Health Problem

Obesity is increasing world-wide and is set to become the world's biggest health problem. Obesity rates in underdeveloped countries are also rising. Recent reports suggest that obesity may soon overtake cigarette smoking as a serious health risk.

Obesity Levels in USA

In America, 58 million adults are overweight; 40 million are obese and 3 million suffer from life-threatening obesity. Furthermore, 8 out of 10 over 25's are overweight and there has been a 76% increase in Type II diabetes in adults 30-40 yrs old since 1990.

Obesity Levels in the UK

In the UK, nearly two-thirds of men and over half of all women are now overweight - and 1 in 5 are obese (at least 30-45 pounds overweight). The level of obesity has tripled in the past 20 years, and is still rising. At this rate, by 2010 at least 1 in 4 adults will be obese. Overweight and obesity is rising amongst children too. European and Australian obesity figures are also high (see Obesity table, below).

Obesity Among Population Groups

There are socioeconomic and ethnic differences in the prevalence of obesity. There is a higher level of obesity in the more deprived groups. This should be considered when planning obesity prevention and treatment interventions. Studies have shown that weight loss and prevention of weight regain are less effective in lower income groups.

Obesity and Health

These weight statistics are alarming because overweight, and especially obesity, increase our risk of many health problems. Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, stroke, back and joint pain, osteoarthritis, infertility, breathlessness, depression, snoring and difficulty sleeping - to mention a few. Being obese is not a cosmetic issue, it is a serious health issue. Obesity-related disease is a major cause of premature death. In fact, a high profile report from the US National Audit Office, concluded that obesity can shave an average of 9 years from our life span.

Obesity and Weight Loss Drugs Research

Obesity is becoming the "trillion dollar disease". This reflects the social costs of obesity, in health and lost production, as well as the weight loss drug profits that might be made for any pharmaceutical company that finds a drug-cure for obesity. The search for viable weight loss medications continues, although pharmaceutical weight loss products still have significant side effects.

Obesity - How to Reduce it

At present, government weight control advice focuses on the need for education about nutrition and healthy food choices, together with an emphasis on more physical activity. But given the huge rise in fast food eating habits, supersize food portions and increased sedentary leisure, whether this approach to weight control and obesity works, only time will tell.

UK Obesity Research
Calories Reduced, Exercise Reduced, Weight Increased

According to UK obesity studies, major weight gain tends not to occur over the short-term, and an energy imbalance of only 1–2% per day can lead to the trend towards overweight and obesity seen in the UK over the years. Daily energy consumption has decreased by approximately 20% since 1970, but obesity has increased over this period of time.. The number of hours spent watching TV has increased since the 1960s and a more automated lifestyle (domestic appliances, use of a motor car) eliminates the amount of physical activity incorporated into daily life. The population is more sedentary with the result that the amount of energy expended has reduced. The prevalence of obesity is increasing, despite decreasing energy intake.

Obesity in Life

There are critical periods in the life course where weight gain is more likely. In women these are between the ages of 15 and 19 years, after marriage, pregnancy, the menopause and retirement. In men the categories are between ages 35 and 40 years, after marriage and after retirement.


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