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Obesity is a complex, chronic disease with several causes that lead to excessive body fat and sometimes, poor health. When your body has too much extra fat, it can change the way it functions. These changes are progressive, can worsen over time, and they can lead to adverse health effects.

We commonly use the Body Mass Index (BMI) to define obesity in the general population. The BMI measures average body weight against average body height. As a generalization,  a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obesity. Another way of assessing obesity is by measuring waist circumference.



Obesity affects your body in many ways. Some are simply the mechanical effects of having more body fat. Other effects are more subtle, such as chemical changes in your blood that increase your risk for diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. There is an increased risk of certain cancers with obesity. Statistically, obesity increases your risk of premature death from all causes.

Metabolic changes

Your metabolism is the process of converting calories into energy to fuel your body’s functions. When your body has more calories than it can use, When you run out of tissue to store lipids in, the fat cells themselves become enlarged. Enlarged fat cells secrete hormones and other chemicals that produce an inflammatory response.

Chronic inflammation has many adverse health effects. One way that it affects your metabolism is by contributing to insulin resistance. This means your body can no longer use insulin to efficiently lower blood glucose and blood lipid levels (sugars and fats in your blood). High blood sugar and blood lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides) also contribute to high blood pressure.

Together, these combined risk factors are known as metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a common factor in obesity and contributes to many related diseases, including Type 2 diabetes, Cardiovascular diseases, Fatty liver disease, Kidney disease, and Gallstones.

Direct effects

Excess body fat can crowd the organs of your respiratory system and put stress and strain on your musculoskeletal system. This contributes to:

  • Asthma.
  • Sleep apnea.
  • Obesity hypoventilation syndrome.
  • Osteoarthritis.
  • Back pain.
  • Gout.

Indirect effects



Factors that may increase calorie consumption include:

Fast and convenience foods. In communities and families where highly processed fast and convenience foods are dietary staples

Sugar: High on that list of products are sweets and sugary drinks, which have no nutritional value and a lot of added calories.

Marketing and Advertising: Advertising makes these products seem like a normal and necessary part of everyday life.

Psychological factors: Boredom, loneliness, anxiety and depression can lead to overeating.

Hormones: Hormones regulate our hunger and satiety signals.

Certain medications: 

Factors that may decrease how many calories we spend include:

Screen culture: As work, shopping, and social life continues to move online, we increasingly spend more time in front of our phones and computers. Streaming media and binge-watching make long hours of sedentary entertainment more possible.

Workforce changes: With industry changes trending toward automation and computers, more people now work at desks than on their feet. They also work longer hours.

Fatigue: Longer you sit still, the wearier and less motivated you become.

Neighborhood design: Many people lack local places to be active, either due to access or safety issues.

Childcare trends: Children spend less time playing outside than they used to. They spend more time in enclosed childcare environments, which may not have adequate space or facilities for physical activity.

Disability: Adults and children with physical and learning disabilities are most at risk for obesity.



Your complete health profile will determine your individual treatment plan. Your healthcare provider will target your most urgent health concerns first, then follow up with a longer-term weight loss plan including:

  • Dietary changes
  • Increased activity
  • Behavioral therapies