What is Obesity?

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

Obesity is a complex chronic disease

The standard 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 to be living with obesity. 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.

How common is obesity globally?



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I think it’s very important for people, for patients, for health care policy makers and for health care practitioners to understand that obesity is a chronic relapsing disorder, which is detailed in one of the World Obesity Federation statements recently. The reason why obesity is a chronic relapsing disorder is because it’s not to do with lack of willpower, it’s not to do with laziness, and it’s nothing to do with greed. It’s got very obvious biological and genetic factors that contribute to excess weight, which are beyond the person or individual control.

It results from a genetic environmental interaction in which patients who are predisposed to excess weight when they are put in the wrong environment, then they develop obesity and severe obesity. And now we have a lot of studies showing that certain genetic variations and genes related to obesity, as well as maternal programming, i.e. events that occurred while the individual were still in the womb of their mother, affect their chances of developing obesity and affects their weight gain in adulthood. So it is hugely important that we move away from the model of eat less and move more to address the underlying biological causes for obesity.




Third Party Video, please see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88tWJ1p5d4o&t=2s