What is Obesity?

Obesity, or an obese individual,  is defined as someone with an excess amount of  body fat. However, scientists point to caloric intake exceeding the amount of energy a person burns as the main indicator of obesity.  Nearly 72 million adults in the United States are obese. Medical professionals use several  indexes to measure obesity or body fat percentages, including the body mass index (or BMI).

The BMI calculates body fat percentage based on a individual’s height and weight. According to the BMI, if your body weight exceeds 30-percent you are considered in the obese range. However, keep in mind that it does not differentiate the weight of fat from bone and muscle mass, which can be misleading.  That’s why in addition to the BMI, most medical professionals will also take a measurement of the patient’s waist circumference, and consider other risk factors for diseases and conditions associated with obesity before making an “obese” prognosis.

With 72 million obese adults in the U.S. alone, obesity is obviously not just a cosmetic concern. Being obese puts individuals at risk for an array of health issues, such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, certain cancers (such as colon, breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer), gallstones, osteoarthritis, gout, asthma, sleep apnea, and stroke. Obesity individuals who are 40 percent overweight for a long period of time also double their chances of premature death compared to a person of average-weight.

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