Obesity is defined as having an extreme amount of body fat. Obesity increases your chance of developing certain diseases including diabetes and high blood pressure. It can also lead to premature death. According to the Mayo Clinic, one of three people is considered to be obese.
A formula called the body mass index (BMI) is used to calculate whether you are obese. The BMI takes into account your height and weight and is an indicator of body fatness to height. A normal BMI is between an 18.5 and 25.
For example, according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute BMI calculator, a 5-foot-7-inch person who weighs 140 pounds would have a BMI of 21.9
You are considered overweight when the BMI number falls between 25.5 and 29.3. A BMI of 30 or more crosses into the category of obese. Morbid or extreme obesity occurs when you have a BMI of 40 or beyond.
Health Problems & Obesity
People who are obese are more apt to suffer from a variety of health problems and potentially life-threatening diseases. The Mayo Clinic says these include certain forms of cancer--including breast, colon and prostate--heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis and depression.
Other potential problems associated with obesity include nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and sleep apnea.
Obesity & Early Mortality
A study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that obesity-related problems claim 112,000 lives each year in the United States. The findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the risk of an early death goes up as weight increases. The NIH found even a 10- to 20-pound weight gain can increases the threat of premature death, especially in adults between the ages of 30 and 64.
People with a BMI index higher than 30 had a 50 percent to 100 percent greater risk of early mortality.
Estimated Years Lost to Obesity
The NIH says obesity is believed to significantly reduce life expectancy, particularly among younger adults. The most desirable BMI associated with the greatest longevity is 23 to 25 for whites and 23 to 30 for blacks.
According to the NIH, the maximum years of life lost (YLL) for white people in their 20s with a seriously high BMI of 45 was 13 for men and eight for women.
In comparison, for young black people who were morbidly obese, the maximum YLL for men was 20 and five for women.
According to researchers at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, higher levels of the protein TGF-B1 (transforming growth factor) in African Americans were positively linked with BMI levels.
The most recent overall life expectancy figures provided by the NHI are 75.3 for men and 80.4 for women.
The purpose of obesity treatment is to acquire and keep a healthier weight, improve your quality of life and lessen your risk of acute health problems.
You might need a supportive team that includes a nutritionist, dietitian, therapist or an obesity specialist to assist you in making major changes to your eating and your day-to-day habits.
Weight-loss medications might be an option. Two prescription medications, sibutramine (meridia) and orlistat (xenical), have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to help treat obesity.