According to the World Health Organization (WHO), persons with body mass index (BMI) of 25kg/m2 or above to be diagnosed as overweight and subjects with a BMI of 30kg/m2 or more as obese. International Obesity Task Force estimates that 1.1 billion adults are overweight in the world.

A 2005 World Health Organization (WHO) report estimates that 1. 6 billion adults who are above the age of 15 are overweight and at least 400 million adults are obese. By 2015, it is projected that at least 700 million adults will be obese and 2.3 billion adults will be overweight. The root cause of obesity and over weight is the imbalance between the calories consumed and the calories spent. Obesity and overweight are the key risk factors for the development of various diseases such as heart and respiratory diseases, diabetes, liver disease, depression and some cancers, as well as early death.

There are a few symptoms of obesity mentioned below:

  • Breathlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Restricted movement
  • Difficulty in climbing steps

Many risk factors increase the chances of developing obesity.

Eating an unhealthy diet is an important factor. If you consume foods high in fats and low in nutrients, your are likely to consume more calories and burn less energy, resulting in being obese.

If you do not indulge in active lifestyle and do not exercise, then you might expend less resulting in obesity.

In children, watching TV and spending much time on computers makes them burn less calories and eventually make them overweight and obese.

Though obesity can occur at any age including in children, the risk of becoming obsess increases as you age due changes in hormones, lack of physical activity and metabolic changes.

Accordingly if you do not reduce your intake of calories, then you are likely to be overweight and obese.

The genes you have, decide as to how you convert the fats into energy, store and distribute fats. The genetic factors are also important as to how your body converts fats into energy.

Obesity may run in certain family because of similar eating habits, lifestyle and activity patterns. If one of the parents is obese, then it may increase the risk of children becoming obese too.

Obesity may also be caused due to hormonal imbalances caused by underactive thyroid gland, increased adrenal hormones in a condition called Cushing’s syndrome and increased levels of androgen hormones in a condition known as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. In addition, people who are on medications for depression or seizures tend to gain weight.

If you are a smoker and you stop smoking, it may lead to excessive intake of food resulting in weight gain. However, this can be avoided by proper balance of food and exercise.

Sleep is an important factor in determining weight gain. It is found that people who sleep less are more prone to weight gain when compared to people who sleep well. To maintain a healthy weight, it is important to sleep for 7-8 hours.

Even if you have one or more of these risk factors, you can reduce the risk of becoming obese or overweight by adopting balanced and healthy diet, indulging in more physical activity and changing your behavior and lifestyle.

The location of fat in your body around your waist may indicate that you are likely to develop health problems than the fat distribution around your hips. The circumference of your waist provides the measure of fat distribution.

In men, waist greater than 94-102 cm and in women waist greater than 80-88 cm indicates excess abdominal fat and is associated with greater risk of related health problems. If the fat is distributed around the waist, it is called fat “apple shaped” distribution and if the fat is distributed around hips, thighs and bottom, it is called “pear shaped” fat distribution. Generally obese men have apple shaped fat distribution and obese women have pear shaped fat distribution.

Studies have shown that obesity related health risks are better explained by waist circumference than by Body Mass Index. For a given waist circumference, health risks of normal weight, overweight and obese persons are comparable. Apple shaped bodied people face higher risks of health than pear shaped bodied persons.

Whatever may be your weight, the larger the waist, higher are the risks suffering from cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease. People with lowest waist sizes carried lowest health risks but whereas expanding sizes of waist correlated with increased chance of health risks.

There are several treatments present for obesity. They are:

  • Diet and exercise can do wonders. Regular fitness will reduce the fat accumulated in the person’s body.
  • Weight loss drugs which are herbal can be taken so that there won’t be any no side-effects.
  • Surgery is another option for the treatment of obesity. It can help reduce many risk factors.

What foods should I avoid or limit?

Whole milk, butter, meat, cheese made of whole milk, coconut and palm oil contain saturated fat which are harmful to the heart.

  • Trans fat containing foods-these are mainly found in processed foods such as cakes, cookies, hard margarine and commercially fried foods such as potato chips and corn chips.
  • Foods that contain high cholesterol-examples: beef, chicken with skin, turkey giblets, butter and all products of whole milk.
  • High intake of salt contributes to high blood pressure. Limit the intake of added salt in your diet. Also avoid canned and processed food as they contain high amounts of salts.
  • Avoid added sugars in diet. If not used for energy production, sugar gets stored as fat in the body. Apart from table sugar, foods that need to be avoided are honey, molasses, syrups, caramel, fruit juice concentrates.

What foods should I include in my diet?

Whole milk, butter, meat, cheese made of whole milk, coconut and palm oil contain saturated fat which are harmful to the heart.

  • Fruits and vegetables are low in fat content. They provide fibers which reduce blood cholesterol. The potassium content in foods like tomatoes, bananas, oranges, grapefruit juice, lettuce, papaya nullifies the effect of sodium caused on blood pressure. Some foods are rich in flavenoids, a plant nutrient that offers protection against heart disease. Flavenoids are found in apples, broccoli, berries, red grapes and red wine.
  • Take grains, especially whole grains, nuts. They are rich in fiber content.
  • Fish such as mackerel, salmon, lake trouts and herring, walnuts, soybean oil, ground flax seed all contain omega-3-fatty acids. It gives a protective effect on your heart.

These are general recommendations. Each person’s dietary requirement is different depending on the life style and health conditions. So, consult a dietician and plan a diet chart which will suit your body’s requirement.

  • Exercise
  • Counting calories
  • Eating mindfully
  • Eating smaller meals
  • Adding more fruits and veggies in the diet


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