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What is Obesity?

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What is Obesity, Causes & Health Risk

Obesity is defined as an excess accumulation of body fat that leads to pathology. Obesity is a disease that has assumed epidemic proportions today. Obesity refers to a spectrum of problems of excess weight, ranging from mild overweight to severe obesity.

How does one become obese?
Your body needs energy to function and your energy source is the food that you eat. A normal weight person successfully balances their energy intake (food eaten) with their energy requirements (daily activity). In other words, they burn up all the energy provided by the food they eat, and stay slim. However, you began to get fatter when you started to eat more food than you needed for your energy requirements. Over a long period of time the excess has been stored as fat around your body.

In theory, just 100 calories eaten more than you need each day would lead to a weight gain of 10lbs per year. Do that for 10 years and you could gain 100 lbs (over 7 stone or 45kg)!

However, obesity is a complex condition and not simply caused by overeating.There seems to be some sort of in–built mechanism that causes excessive fat storage in some people, and scientists are working to try and understand more about it. Severe obesity tends to run in families so there is likely to be a genetic component as well.

Weight loss will only happen when your body has to burn up the stored fat to provide your energy. In other words, when your body's energy needs are greater than that provided by the food you eat.

Why being obese is such a health risk

Being overweight dramatically increases your chances of suffering a serious health problem in the near future (sometimes referred to as an obesity–related disease).

If you are obese you are:

  • 6 times more likely to develop gallbladder disease
  • 5.6 times more likely to develop high blood pressure
  • 3.8 times more likely to develop diabetes
  • twice as likely to develop arthritis
  • more likely to develop some cancers including prostate, breast, cervix and ovarian cancer
  • more likely to have a stroke
  • more likely to suffer back problems
  • more likely to be infertile
  • more likely to suffer depression
  • more likely to snore and suffer sleep disorders

And probably most importantly of all, your life expectancy is much shorter than that of a normal weight person - the more obese you are, the more risk you have of dying at an earlier age.

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