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
in your daily activities. The unused energy is converted to fat,
causing a steady increase in bodyweight. The symptoms become very
lethargy, breathlessness, large body frame etc. It should be noted
that different people have different rates of metabolism and that
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
psychological problems, abuse, family problems etc
Age & Gender
Generally speaking, as you grow older, your metabolic rate slows
down and you do not require as many calories to maintain your
example, people in their forties often say that they are eating
the same and doing the same activities as they did when they were
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
post-menopausal, their metabolic rate decreases significantly.
That is one of the reasons why women can start gaining weight
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
be minimised and best avoided. Remember you are what you eat!
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
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