What is Obesity?

Overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health.

A crude population measure of obesity is the body mass index (BMI), a person’s weight (in kilograms) divided by the square of his or her height (in metres). A person with a BMI of 30 or more is generally considered obese. A person with a BMI equal to or more than 25 is considered overweight.

However, obesity is a complex chronic disease for which there are multiple causes.

Genetics are increasingly recognised to be a major contributor to body weight rather than just in rare diseases.  Genetics and other biological causes can be further exacerbated by the  built environment.

Many people believe that the amount of fat in your body is only determined by what you eat and how much you exercise, but the reality is that is just not the case. The reality is that your body tries to protect its fat stores to maintain your highest weight meaning that managing obesity is a lifelong process.

Given the increasing prevalence of obesity there has been a lot of emphasis on prevention. However, increased priority should be also given to offer treatment and support for people living with obesity who are seeking treatment.

Whilst obesity can be associated with other diseases it should  be treated as a disease in its own right so appropriate services can be made available.

Stigma is a major barrier to care as well as  a cause of significant distress and should be identified and called out at every opportunity to facilitate improved care.

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