Obesity is a condition in which there excessive deposits of body fat. A person with a BMI (body mass index) over 30 is characterized as being obese. Those with a BMI over 25 are considered as being overweight.
The rate of obesity is increasing at an alarming pace all over the world, particularly in the developed countries. More than a million Americans are considered to have a BMI over 40! That figure is almost twice as high as the corresponding figure in the 1980s. The number of overweight children has also doubled since the 1980s. As you can see, each succeeding generation is becoming heavier than the one before it. That is why it is believed that obesity would touch epidemic levels by the year 2020.
The common causes of obesity include a wide range of genetic and behavioral factors. These are:
Genetic factors: While the relationship between obesity and heredity is not very clear, there are indications to show that children of overweight and obese parents tend to be heavier than others. One of the reasons for this could be the aping of food habits that takes place within a family. If parents are given to the habit of unhealthy eating, it is quite natural that children follow in the same footsteps. This genetic predisposition to obesity is mostly seen in children below the age of 11 years.
Over consumption: Eating more than what the body requires is one of the main causes of obesity. In earlier generations people were able to balance what they ate with their calorie expenditure. But that was before the proliferation of fast foods. Today fast foods are the greatest contributors of empty calories. They contain very high concentrations of fat, sugar and sodium. Over consumption of these kinds of food will surely lead to obesity.
Sedentary lifestyle: Obviously, people who eat more need to exercise more. However, quite the reverse is happening. Due to high work pressure and lack of time many people are forced to grab fast foods and settle down to a sedentary lifestyle. Working from a chair throughout the day effectively squashes any chance of exercise. Sedentary lifestyle is often considered to be the #1 reason for diabetes.
Stress: According to psychologists, unresolved emotional problems and increasing societal pressures may lead a person to overeat. Most people who are obese are vulnerable to emotionally eating.
Health factors: In a small number of people, genetic conditions may lead to obesity. Hypothyroidism is one such condition. Sometimes, medication can also lead to obesity.
Obesity is a silent killer. To fight obesity, it is necessary to follow a sustained and structured weight loss program.