Monday, May 18, 2009


Obesity is associated with many diseases, particularly heart disease, type 2 diabetes, breathing difficulties during sleep, certain types of cancer, and osteoarthritis. Obesity is most commonly caused by a combination of excessive dietary calories, lack of physical activity, and genetic susceptibility, though a limited number of cases are due solely to genetics, medical reasons, or psychiatric illness.

The primary treatment for obesity is dieting and physical exercise. If this fails, anti-obesity drugs may be taken to reduce appetite or inhibit fat absorption. In severe cases, surgery is performed or an intragastric balloon is placed to reduce stomach volume and or bowel length, leading to earlier satiation and reduced ability to absorb nutrients from food.

Obesity is a leading preventable cause of death worldwide, with increasing prevalence in adults and children, and authorities view it as one of the most serious public health problems of the 21st century. Obesity is stigmatized in the modern Western world, though it has been perceived as a symbol of wealth and fertility at other times in history, and still is in many parts of Africa.

Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have an adverse affect on health.It is defined by body mass index (BMI) and further evaluated in terms of fat distribution via the waist–hip ratio and total cardiovascular risk factors. BMI is highly related to both percentage body fat and total body fat.


Body mass index or BMI is a simple and widely used method for estimating body fat mass. BMI was developed in the 19th century by the Belgian statistician and anthropometrist Adolphe Quetelet. BMI is an accurate reflection of body fat percentage in the majority of the adult population. It however is less accurate in people such as body builders and pregnant women. A formula combining BMI, age and gender can be used to estimate a person's body fat percentage to an accuracy of 4%.

BMI     Classification

<>  underweight

18.5–24.9        normal weight

25.0–29.9        overweight

30.0–34.9        class I obesity

35.0–39.9        class II obesity

> 40.0    class III obesity 

Childhood obesity

The healthy BMI range varies with the age and sex of the child. Obesity in children and adolescents is defined as a BMI greater than the 95th percentile or to put it another way the 5% with the greatest BMI. The reference data that these percentiles are based on is from 1963 to 1994 and thus has not been affected by the recent increases in rates of obesity.

Childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions in 21st century with rising rates in both the developed and developing world. Rates of obesity in Canadian boys have increased from 11% in 1980s to over 30% in 1990s, while during this same time period rates increased from 4 to 14% in Brazilian children.

As with obesity in adults many different factors contribute to the rising rates of childhood obesity. Changing diet and decreasing physical activity are believed to be the two most important in causing the recent increase in the rate of obesity. Activities from self propelled transport, to school physical education, and organized sports has been declining in many countries. Treatments used in children are primarily lifestyle interventions and behavioral techniques. Medications are not FDA approved for use in this age group.