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This article does not address eating disorders, it deals specifically with obesity. Please view the links at the bottom of the page for information on eating disorders like, bulimia and anorexia nervosa.

Obesity is described as a common, chronic health condition, resulting from an excess of body fat causing significant impairment of health. It occurs when the size or number of fat cells in a persons body increases. The person gradually becomes overweight and obese due to any number of reasons. Serious obesity can lead to other health problems, such as heart disease, cancer, arthritis, depression, high blood pressure, gallstones, diabetes and depression. Check whether you have a healthy weight on our BMI Calculator.


Obesity develops when there is an imbalance between energy intake and energy expenditure. This means you consume more calories than you expend in your daily activities. The unused energy is converted to fat, causing a steady increase in bodyweight. The symptoms become very apparent, lethargy, breathlessness, large body frame etc. It should be noted that different people have different rates of metabolism and that there are certain points in a persons life, when they are more prone to developing weight problems, such as between the ages of 12-16, 50 and over or during pregnancy. Other circumstances in life can also give rise to obesity, psychological problems, abuse, family problems etc

Trigger Factors

Age & Gender
Generally speaking, as you grow older, your metabolic rate slows down and you do not require as many calories to maintain your weight. For example, people in their forties often say that they are eating the same and doing the same activities as they did when they were 20 years old and are still gaining weight. This will happen because metabolism slows down with advancing age.

Similarly gender is also an important factor. Males tend to have a higher resting metabolic rate than females, so males require more calories to maintain their body weight. Additionally, when women become post-menopausal, their metabolic rate decreases significantly. That is one of the reasons why women can start gaining weight after menopause.

Activity & Exercise
Regular exercise uses up excess energy which the body would have stored as fat. Much of the increase in obesity in the last 20 years has been attributed to the decreased level of physical activity in everyday life. Simple exercise activities like, walking, swimming and cycling are being neglected with unfortunate long-term consequences. The best weight management system is regular exercise.

Food & Drink

A culture of fast food, rich in sugars and fats is another contributing factor to the rise in obesity levels. People feel full and satisfied after eating such food, however it is usually low in nutritional value and content. Over consumption of high fat, high calorie foods should be minimised and best avoided. Remember you are what you eat!

Family History
Obesity can be inherited, and triggered by genetics and family culture regarding eating habits. Obesity can develop in a child if both parents are obese. The child can pick up over eating habits and limited motivation for exercise. The genetic make-up of an individual can be one of the causes for an uncontrolled appetite, due to faults in hormonal and chemical messaging to the brain. Incidentally, inheriting a tendency toward obesity does not mean that you cannot lose weight, it just means that you have to work harder in you exercise and food management programme.

Medical Factors
Certain medical conditions such as, an under active thyroid or Cushing’s disease though rare can trigger obesity. Medications and drugs like, steroids, certain anti-depressants and contraceptive pills have also been known to increase appetite and decrease metabolic rate, as does giving up smoking.

To lose weight and keep it off requires small and continuous changes in your life, avoid short-term crash diets. Change your eating habits, stay motivated and create a sustainable, practical exercise regime. Losing weight will improve a person’s quality of life, self-esteem, confidence and help them reduce the chance of future health complications. Make the difference, start today!

Check whether you have a healthy weight on our BMI Calculator.


National Obesity Forum
Food Fitness
The National Centre for Eating disorders

Muslim Resources

Muslim Directory