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Understanding Obesity: Causes, Risk Factors, and Health Implications

What is obesity?

Obesity is characterized by excess or abnormal fat accumulation in the body, posing a risk to

health. It is defined by the World Health Organization as a medical condition where the Body Mass

Index (BMI) is 30 or greater.

Causes of obesity

Obesity has diverse causes, including genetics, unhealthy diets, and lack of physical activity,

hormonal imbalances, and certain medical conditions. While genetic factors play a role, most

cases are associated with modifiable behaviors like sedentary lifestyles and high caloric intake.

Understanding these factors is vital for prevention and management.

What are the three types of obesity?

Obesity is generally categorized into three types:

  1. 1. Exogenous Obesity: Caused by external factors like diet and lack of physical activity.
  2. 2. Endogenous Obesity: Linked to genetic factors or underlying medical conditions.
  3. 3. Mixed (Exogenous-Endogenous) Obesity: A combination of both external and internal factors
  4. contributing to weight gain.

How common is obesity?

Obesity is a widespread global issue, impacting 604 million adults since 2015. Recent findings

reveal a concerning rise in obesity rates globally. In the UAE, 17.8% of adults grapple with obesity,

with a higher occurrence in women at 21.6%. A 2023 British Medical Journal report underscores

that the highest obesity rates, reaching 39.6%, were observed among UAE nationals and women.

Consequences of being overweight

Carrying excess weight poses serious health risks, including a higher chance of heart attack,

stroke, and type 2 diabetes. It also contributes to musculoskeletal problems like back and knee

pain, increases the risk of certain cancers, and may lead to sleep problems.

Obesity treatment

Obesity treatment encompasses lifestyle changes—a balanced diet (including fruits, vegetables,

whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats in moderation) and increased physical activity, like

brisk walking or cycling. Surgical interventions may also be considered for lasting success.

All those benefitting from weight loss should receive counseling on diet, exercise, and weight

management goals. For eligible candidates (BMI over 30 kg/m2), pharmacologic therapy is an

option. However, its initiation should be individualized, considering risks and benefits. Regular

exercise and a balanced diet remain fundamental for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

Risk factors associated with Obesity

Unhealthy Diet: Consuming high-calorie, low-nutrient foods contributes to weight gain.

Lack of Physical Activity: Sedentary lifestyles increase the risk of obesity.

Genetics: Family history can influence an individual's predisposition to obesity.

Psychological Factors: Emotional stress and depression may contribute.

Medical Conditions: Certain health issues and medications can lead to weight gain.

Environmental Factors: Living in obesogenic environments with limited access to healthy options.

Socioeconomic Factors: Limited resources can impact access to nutritious food and opportunities

for physical activity.

Obesity FAQs

How can we control obesity?

Controlling obesity involves a multifaceted approach:

  1. - Healthy Eating Habits: Embrace a balanced and nutritious diet, emphasizing fruits,
  2. vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
  3. - Regular Physical Activity: Incorporate regular exercise into your routine, aiming for at least
  4. 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.
  5. - Behavioral Changes: Address unhealthy habits and emotional triggers that contribute to
  6. overeating.
  7. - Portion Control: Be mindful of portion sizes to avoid excess calorie intake.
  8. - Hydration: Drink an adequate amount of water, as thirst can sometimes be mistaken for
  9. hunger.
  10. - Get Enough Sleep: Lack of sleep can disrupt hormonal balance and contribute to weight
  11. gain.
  12. - Seek Professional Guidance: Consult with healthcare professionals, dietitians, or fitness
  13. experts for personalized advice.

How can I prevent obesity?

  •  Maintain a Balanced Diet: Focus on whole, nutrient-dense foods and limit the intake of
  • processed and high-calorie foods.
  •  Regular Exercise: Engage in regular physical activity, incorporating both aerobic
  • exercises and strength training.
  •  Lifelong Learning: Stay informed about nutrition, health, and wellness to make informed
  • choices.
  •  Behavioral Strategies: Develop healthy habits and coping mechanisms for stress to
  • prevent emotional eating.
  •  Regular Health Check-ups: Monitor your health regularly, addressing any emerging
  • concerns promptly.
  •  Encourage a Healthy Environment: Promote healthy eating and active lifestyles within
  • your family and community.

 How does obesity affect my body?

Being overweight has potential repercussions on various body systems, primarily impacting:

  1. 1. Cardiovascular System: Increases the risk of heart disease, hypertension, and stroke.
  2. 2. Metabolic Health: Contributes to blood sugar problems and type 2 diabetes.
  3. 3. Musculoskeletal Impact: Places extra strain on joints, leading to arthritis and mobility
  4. issues.
  5. 4. Respiratory Function: Can cause breathing difficulties, especially during sleep (sleep
  6. apnea).
  7. 5. Cancer Risk: Linked to an increased risk of certain types of cancers (gastric, colon, etc.).
  8. 6. Psychological Impact: Affects mental health, contributing to conditions like depression and
  9. anxiety.
  10. 7. Reproductive Health: Can lead to fertility issues and complications during pregnancy

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