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During the past 20 years, obesity has significantly risen in the United States. To be more precise, the latest data from the National Center for Health Statistics shows that 30 percent of U.S. adults 20 years of age and older (over 60 million people) are obese. The percentage of young people who are overweight has more than tripled since 1980. Among children and teens aged 6–19, 16 percent (over 9 million young people) are considered overweight. That’s why this disease could be rightly called “the disease of the modern age”.
Why is obesity so serious?
Being overweight or obese increases the risk of many diseases and health conditions, including the following:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Coronary heart disease
- Gallbladder disease
- Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
- Some cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon)
What exactly is obesity?
The precise definition of obesity is that it represents a condition in which the natural energy reserve, stored in the fatty tissue of humans and mammals is increased to a point where it is thought to be a risk factor for certain health conditions or increased mortality. There are several methods by which you can determine whether you’re obese: measuring BMI (Body Mass Index), waist circumference, evaluating the presence of risk factors and comorbidities.
BMI - body mass index
It is a very precise measurement which is easily calculated by dividing the subject's weight in kilograms by the square of his/her height in meters (BMI = kg / m2).
It is considered that a person with a BMI which is:
- less than 18.5 is underweight
- between 18.5 - 24.9 is normal weight
- between 25.0 - 29.9 is overweight
- between 30.0 - 39.9 is obese
- 40.0 or higher is severely obese
BMI is a simple and widely-used method for estimating body fat. BMI as an indicator of a clinical condition is used in conjunction with other clinical assessments.
Measuring waist circumference
The problem with BMI is that it does not take into account differing ratios of adipose to lean tissue, nor does it distinguish between differing forms of adiposity. Two different measures are being used to determine the level of obesity:
- the absolute waist circumference (>102 cm in men and >88 cm in women)
- waist-hip ratio (>0.9 for men and >0.85 for women)
Body fat measurement
Most doctors agree that men with more than 25% body fat and women with more than 30% body fat are obese. It could be extremely difficult to measure the exact percentage of body fat but the most accepted method has been to weigh a person underwater. Only problem is that underwater weighing is a procedure limited to laboratories with special equipment.
Risk factors and comorbidities
The presence of risk factors and diseases associated with obesity are also used to establish a clinical diagnosis. Possible life-threatening risk factors that would indicate clinical treatment of obesity are:
- Coronary heart disease
- Type II diabetes
- Sleep apnea
- Age and family history