How serious is the risk to health from obesity?

Categories:   Health | Life | Metabolism | Nutrition

How serious is the risk to health from obesity?

Obesity doesn’t happen overnight and the rate at which a person becomes obese can vary with their metabolism, height, exercise habits and activity.

Also, as weight gain can happen gradually, we can compensate for the restrictions it puts on our body without realising we are doing it.

So, it can take a while before you realise that there is something seriously amiss and it is time to do something about it before any of obesity’s serious consequences kicks in.

What is obesity?

Obesity is being very overweight with a lot of body fat. It means the obese person is consuming considerably more calories than their body actually needs.

Calculating actual needs can be complicated, as it is affected by what is called your metabolic rate: the calories your body needs to burn in order to keep going, also known as your basal metabolic weight. Obviously, if you have a very active lifestyle you will need to supply your body with the fuel it will need to sustain that activity.

Anything else is surplus to requirements, no matter how much you love the occasional cream donut, and that’s when we’re likely to gain weight.

One way of calculating a healthy weight is to use the person’s Body Mass Index (BMI).  According to the NHS for most adults a BMI of:

For most adults, a BMI of:

  • 5 to 24.9 means you’re a healthy weight
  • 25 to 29.9 means you’re overweight
  • 30 to 39.9 means you’re obese
  • 40 or above means you’re severely obese

However, BMI is not the only or necessarily the most accurate measure, as people who are very muscular can have a high BMI but without excess fat.

The NHS suggests that a waist circumference measurement may be a helpful additional indication of obesity.

So, what can obesity do to your health?

Obesity can affect your quality of life in that you may not be able to join in some activities with your friends.  It can also affect mental health and lead to depression.

It also put you at higher risk of several life limiting or life-threatening conditions. They include:

  • type 2 diabetes – when the blood sugar level to become too high
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol and atherosclerosis (where fatty deposits narrow your arteries), which can lead to coronary heart disease and stroke
  • asthma
  • several types of cancer, including bowel cancer, breast cancer and womb cancer
  • gallstones – small stones, usually made of cholesterol, that form in the gallbladder
  • reduced fertility
  • osteoarthritis – a condition involving pain and stiffness in your joints
  • sleep apnoea – a condition that causes interrupted breathing during sleep
  • liver disease
  • kidney disease

It’s a pretty horrifying list and it makes sense to take control of your health, fitness levels, diet and weight before you get anywhere needing to take drastic action.