Every day an obese person dies a series of small deaths.
Aches, pains, skin infections, urinary incontinence, sleep apnoea and breathlessness, compounded with major health issues like heart diseases, diabetes and depression make the lives of the obese an ongoing struggle. The repeated cycles of weight loss and weight gain, which are almost always accompanied by a sense of failure, leading to guilt, self-recrimination and hopelessness, cause severe psychological trauma. This has long term effects on physical and mental well-being of the sufferers. Social discomfort and lowering of performance at work add to their sense of inferiority and incompetence.
Obesity is more than just a few extra pounds.
A lot of people think they're overweight even though they aren't. In fact everybody should have some body fat. The average man should expect his body fat to be 10 to 18 per cent of his body weight. The figure for women is higher; 18 to 25 per cent of a woman's body weight should be fat.
Obesity is the heavy accumulation of fat in the body to such a degree that it rapidly increases the risk of diseases that can damage health and knock years off life.
A person is categorized as underweight, healthy weight, overweight, or obese based on his or her body mass index (BMI). Body mass index is a standardized measure of body fat that can be calculated based on an adult's height and weight; a BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight, while a BMI of ≥30 is considered obese.
A BMI Calculator and a detailed chart assessing BMI and grade of obesity are available for your reference on this site. Please follow the link.
Obesity: Not just a "problem of choice"
Unfortunately, for decades obesity has been considered 'a problem of choice', a health problem that the sufferers have chosen to inflict upon themselves. Obesity has not been considered a 'disease' in the traditional sense of the word. It’s not communicable. Thus it has always been a cause of derision and ridicule.
Now, however, with extensive and intensive research leading to a better understanding, obesity has been classified as a disease rather than a mere lifestyle problem. There is a better understanding of the contribution of psycho-social factors in the prevalence of obesity, and of the burden it creates on the sufferer's health and budget as well as on the on the state healthcare system.
A New Definition of Malnutrition
Malnutrition now means both, under-nutrition and over-nutrition. Malnourished are emaciated as well as obese.
The simple fact is that our diets have changed radically within the last 50 years, with great and often very harmful effects on our health. About eighty percent of the food on shelves of supermarkets today didn't exist 100 years ago. These dietary changes represent as great a threat to public health as smoking. Too much fat, too much sugar or salt, can be and are linked directly to several killer diseases.
The United Nations reported that in 2000 the number of people suffering from over-nutrition--a billion--had officially surpassed the number suffering from malnutrition--800 million.
When weight assumes dangerous proportions-
As weight increases, so do serious health risks.
Researchers with RTI International recently published results of a study of 366,000 people and found that those who are morbidly obese shorten their expected lifespan by up to 12 years. Premature death rates are further increased for those with diabetes as a co-existing condition.
The effect of severe obesity appears to be greater for men. Morbidly obese white males between 20 and 30 years of age with a BMI over 45 can shorten their life expectancy by 12 years, while women of the same age and BMI shorten lifespan by about 8 years.
Several factors are involved in the shortening of life expectancy that is associated with obesity. These include age of onset, duration of obesity, severity of obesity, amount of abdominal fat, prevalence of associated diseases, sex, and level of respiratory fitness.
In addition to a shorter life, those with morbid obesity also have an increased risk of chronic health conditions that affect quality of life. These include an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, certain cancers (particularly breast, colon, and prostate), severe arthritis, and respiratory problems such as sleep apnea.
Listening to the alarm bells
A BMI of more than 25, is the first indication of the need to lose weight.
The same is true if the fat distribution is concentrated around the middle because this increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
In white population waist should be no more than 102cm/40 inches (men) or 88cm/35 inches (women).
Stricter targets for Asians state the waist size of less than 90cm/35 inches (men) and 80cm/32 inches (women) (because people of Asian origins develop obesity related disease, such as diabetes at much lower levels of overweight).