Before discussing the risk factors involved with being overweight, let us first understand the classification for:
overweight, obese and grossly obese individuals.
There are different ways of determining and classifying an obese person. The most common being:
Comparing the fat mass of the individual to the norm for the age group
|Overweight||>5% fat than norm for the age group||>5% fat than norm for the age group|
|Obese||>20% fat||>30% fat|
|Morbidly obese||>50 – 100% over average weight for that age group||>50 – 100% over average weight for that age group|
- Circumference of the waist
- Circumference of the hips
- Waist circumference is taken above the belly button at the smallest part of the waist
- Hip circumference is taken at the top of the hip just under the bellybutton
- Apple shape Ratio ≥ 0,95 means that the fat is allocated above your waist, which indicates a higher risk for diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers.
- Pear shape Ratio ≤ 0,95 means that your body fat is allocated below your waist, which indicates, lower health risks. But fat located in the lower half of the body may be harder to lose during weight loss.
The body mass index (BMI):
- It is widely accepted in the field of medicine and wellness that when a person has a BMI higher than 30, that person would run the risk of having a medical ailment of some sorts.
|BMI = weight
|BMI < 19||Underweight|
|BMI 20 – 25||Normal|
|BMI 25 – 29||Overweight|
|BMI > 30||Obese> 50 – 100% over average weight for that age group|
Note that the BMI is not accurate in the following circumstances:
- Breast feeding
- Competitive athletes
- The elderly
Health risks associated with obesity includes (but does not exclude others) the following:
1. Risk of cardiovascular disease
Due to the fat deposits around the internal organs and especially the heart and lungs. The stress to perform on these organs associated with the CV-system is much bigger. – Think about trying to blow up a balloon between blocks of margarine.
2. Pulmonary diseases and dilapidated function of the respiratory system due to increased stresses to move the chest.
3. Heart disease and stroke.
Overweight people are twice as likely to have high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, than people who are not overweight. Very high levels of cholesterol can also lead to heart disease. Being overweight contributes to angina (chest pain caused by decreased oxygen to the heart) and sudden death from heart disease or stroke without any signs or symptoms. 4. Cardiac illnesses
Excess fat in the abdominal area is more metabolically active than fat accumulated around the hips and gluteus. That means that these fatty deposits are more likely to get into the arteries. Therefore obese and overweight men are more at risk to develop cardiac illnesses than their female counterparts.
5. Obesity can also be associated with arteriogenetic characteristics.
This means that the elasticity, form and function of the arteries are compromised. The increased accumulation of fat deposits increases the probability of contracting these diseases.
Overweight people are more than twice as likely to develop type II diabetes. Type II diabetes (the type brought on by an inactive lifestyle) reduces your body’s ability to control blood sugar. It is major cause of early death, heart disease, stroke and blindness.
7. Gallbladder disease
Gallbladder disease and gallstones are more common if you are overweight. Your risk of disease increases as your weight increases.
Ostheoarthritis is a common joint condition that most often affects the knee, hip and lower back joints. Carrying extra pounds places pressure on these joints and wears away the cartlidge (tissue that cushions the joints) that normally protects them.
An increased level of uric acid within the body causes this. Rather than being flushed out of the system, needle-like crystal deposits accumulate in and around the joints. The risk of developing this painful disorder increases with higher body weights.
10. Different types of cancer
Several types of cancer can be associated with being overweight. In woman, these include cancer of the uterus, gallbladder, cervix, ovary, and colon. Overweight men are at higher risk for developing colorectal cancer and prostate cancer. For some types of cancer, such as colon or breast, it is not clear whether the increased risk is due to the extra weight or to high-fat, high-calorie diet.
11. Menstrual abnormalities in woman
12. Sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is a serious breathing condition that is associated with being overweight. It can cause a person to snore heavily and to stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Sleep apnea may cause daytime sleepiness and even heart failure. The risk for sleep apnea increases as body weight increases.
13. The biggest risk of all is the one overweight and obese parents pass on to their children. Children of overweight and obese parents have a 2 – 3 times bigger chance to be obese through their entire adult life. This is not a genetic factor (only 25% can be blamed on your genes), but rather the family’s poor eating and activity habits.
What Diseases are obese children at risk for?
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Early heart problems
- Bone problems
- Skin conditions such as heat rash, fungal infections and acne.
The biggest contributor to obesity is an obesity-breeding environment. Like being sedentary and stressed with an abundance of food always at arm’s length.
The most effective way to protect your health and that of your family against obesity is to START MOVING.
1. Guyton & Hall. 1996 Textbook of medical physiology – ninth edition, pp. 980 –981.
2. The Cleveland Clinic, Weight loss: Obesity in children. www.webmd.com Accessed 28/06/2006
3. The Cleveland Clinic, Weight loss: Health risks associated with obesity. www.webmd.com Accessed 28/06/2006
4. Andre Noel Potvin. Dangerous trends of inactivity. Released 16 May 2001. www.ptonthenet.com Accessed 13/06/2006
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