Understanding Obesity: Causes, Types, Prevention, and Treatment Strategies


Obesity is a multifactorial, chronic illness that can result in high body fat and occasionally, poor health. Naturally, body fat in and of itself is not an illness. However, an excessive amount of body fat might alter how your body operates. These alterations are gradual, may get worse with time, and may have negative consequences for one’s health, obesity causes and treatment

The good news is that reducing part of your body fat will lessen your chances of health issues. Your health can be significantly affected by even little weight fluctuations. Not everyone can lose weight with the same strategy. Most people have made many attempts at weight loss. Furthermore, maintaining the weight loss is just as crucial as the initial weight loss.

obese person showing signs of obesity

The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a regularly used tool by healthcare practitioners to classify obesity in the general population. Average body weight and average body height are compared using the BMI. In general, medical professionals consider someone to be obese if their BMI is 30 or greater. Even with its drawbacks, BMI is a readily quantifiable measure that can help warn you of the health dangers associated with obesity.

Limitations include those who are bodybuilders or athletes, who may have lower body fat percentages but have higher muscle mass and BMI scores. It is also feasible to be obese while maintaining a “normal” weight. You might be at the same risk for health problems as someone with a higher BMI if your body weight is average but your body fat percentage is high.

Healthcare professionals have also noted variations among ethnic groups in the amount of excess weight that an individual can bear before it compromises their health. People of Asian heritage, for instance, are more likely to be at reduced risk of health problems than Black people, who are more likely to be at higher risk.

Waist circumference measurements are another method of evaluating obesity. There is statistical evidence that those with higher waist circumference are more susceptible to illnesses associated with obesity. For females, a waist measurement greater than 35 inches or a waist measurement greater than 40 inches for the male, is an indication of obesity.

What 3 forms of obesity exist?

Healthcare professionals divide obesity into groups according to the severity of the condition. They do it by using BMI. Your BMI classifies you as overweight if it is between 25.0 and 29.9 kg/m². Healthcare professionals assess which of three main groups of obesity each patient may fall into when determining the best course of therapy. Among them are:

  • Obesity class I: BMI of 30 to less than 35 kg/m².
  • Obesity class II: BMI of 35 to less than 40 kg/m².
  • Obesity class III: BMI 40 kg/m² or above.

Signs and Origins

obese child showing possible signs of obesity

How does being obese impact your body?

Numerous bodily effects result from obesity. Some of them are just the physiological consequences of being overweight. You can clearly distinguish, for instance, between carrying excess weight on your body and putting additional strain on your joints and skeleton. Subtler impacts include blood chemistry changes that raise the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Certain impacts remain poorly understood. For instance, obesity raises the chance of developing several malignancies. It exists, however, scientists are not sure why. Obesity raises your chance of dying young from all causes, according to statistics. Conversely, research indicates that even a modest weight loss of 5% to 10% can greatly reduce these risks.

Metabolic alterations

The process of turning food into energy to power your body’s operations is known as metabolism. When your body has more energy than it can utilize, it stores the excess energy as lipids in your adipose tissue or body fat. The fat cells themselves increase when there is no longer any tissue available to store lipids. Hormones and other substances secreted by enlarged fat cells trigger an inflammatory reaction.

The impacts of chronic inflammation on health are numerous. It can impact your metabolism by causing insulin resistance, for example. This implies that insulin can no longer effectively decrease blood glucose and blood lipid levels (blood sugar and fat levels) in your body. High blood pressure is also a result of elevated blood lipids, such as cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as blood sugar.

The term metabolic syndrome refers to the grouping of several risk factors together. Since they all tend to support one another, they are grouped. Additionally, they make it more difficult to maintain weight reduction and discourage any weight gain. Obesity is frequently associated with metabolic syndrome, which also plays a role in several connected illnesses, such as:

Diabetes type 2

In particular, obesity increases the risk of type 2 diabetes by seven times for those assigned to the male gender at birth and by twelve times for those assigned to the female gender. For each point you acquire on the BMI scale, your risk goes up by 20%. Losing weight also causes it to decrease.

Heart disorder

Coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, heart attacks, and stroke are among the cardiovascular disorders for which high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and inflammation are risk factors. Your BMI goes hand in hand with these hazards. In the United States and around the world, cardiovascular disease is the primary cause of avoidable mortality.

Fatty liver illness

Your liver, which filters your blood, receives excess fats that are floating around in your circulation. Your liver can develop long-term liver damage (cirrhosis) and chronic liver inflammation (hepatitis) when it starts accumulating extra fat.

Renal illness

Among the most frequent causes of chronic kidney disease are high blood pressure, diabetes, and liver disease.

Kidney stones

Elevated levels of blood cholesterol can lead to the build-up of cholesterol in the gallbladder, which can result in gallstones and other gallbladder disorders.

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Direct Consequences

Being overweight might place tension and pressure on your musculoskeletal system and cram the organs of your respiratory system. This in turn causes;

  • Asthma.
  • Apnea during sleep.
  • Syndrome of obesity-hypoventilation.
  • Arthritis of the bones.
  • Back discomfort.
  • Gout.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, arthritis affects one in three obese persons. Research indicates that a 5 kg increase in weight corresponds to a 36% rise in the risk of knee arthritis. The good news is that a 10% weight loss combined with exercise can greatly lessen arthritis-related discomfort and enhance your quality of life.

Indirect Consequences

Additionally, obesity is indirectly linked to:

  • Memory and cognitive function, as well as an increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Problems during pregnancy and infertility in women.
  • Mood disorders and depression.
  • Some malignancies, such as those of the esophagus, pancreas, colon, breast, uterus, and ovary.

What leads to obesity?

Fundamentally, eating more calories than your body can utilize leads to obesity. There are several contributing aspects behind this. Some things are unique to you. Others are incorporated into our society’s framework. In certain respects, combating these many causes head-on is necessary to prevent obesity.

A few things that might lead to an increase in calorie intake are

Fast and easy meals

It’s simple to overindulge in calories in families and communities where highly processed fast foods are staples of the diet. These foods might make you feel more hungry since they are lacking in fiber and other nutrients and are heavy in sugar and fat. Their components encourage compulsive eating habits. Because of their price and accessibility, they could be the only food kinds that are widely available in some places. According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control, 40% of American homes reside more than a mile away from stores that sell healthful foods.


The purpose of the food industry is not to preserve human health. Its purpose is to market goods that will cause addiction and drive us to purchase more. High on that list of items are sugar-filled beverages and candies, which are high in additional calories and lack nutritious value. However, even common meals include a lot of added sugar to make them more tasty and addicting. Because it’s so widespread, our standards for taste have shifted.

Advertising and marketing

Advertising is all around us, pushing processed meals, candies, and sugary drinks—things that we don’t need, but the market wants us to buy in large quantities. These items are portrayed in advertising as essential and commonplace elements of daily life. Alcohol is sold mostly through advertising, which contributes a significant amount of empty calories.

Psychological factors

In today’s world, feelings of boredom, loneliness, worry, and sadness are all frequent, and they can all result in overeating. They may particularly encourage the consumption of higher-calorie meals that appeal to the pleasure regions of our brains. Eating to improve one’s mood is a basic human tendency. Food is our natural habitat, yet evolution hasn’t kept up with the availability of food that modern Western civilizations take for granted.


Our hunger and satiety signals are controlled by hormones. Numerous factors, from less common ones like genetic variants to more prevalent ones like stress and sleep deprivation, might interfere with these regulatory systems. Even when you don’t need any extra calories, hormones might make you want food more and more. It may be difficult to know when to give up because of them.

Certain drugs

Weight gain may be exacerbated by medications you take for other ailments. Among these are beta-blockers, antidepressants, steroids, anti-seizure drugs, and diabetic treatments.

Treatment and Medical Interventions

How is the obesity treatment?

Your personalized treatment plan will be based on your whole health profile. Your physician will start by addressing your most pressing medical issues, and then move on to a longer-term weight-loss strategy. Occasionally, they could suggest minor adjustments that take effect right away, like changing your prescription. The entire course of treatment will likely entail several variables and be more slow. It could take some trial and error to determine which therapy is most effective for you, as every person is unique. Extensive, team-based programs that involve regular, face-to-face communication between you and your provider are the most effective in helping individuals lose weight and keep it off, according to several studies.

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Your regimen can consist of

Dietary adjustments

The dietary adjustments you require to lose weight will be unique to you. Reducing snacking in between meals or portion sizes may help some people. For some, it can be more about altering what they consume than the quantity. Eating more vegetables is beneficial for almost everyone. Vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fruits often have higher fiber and vitamin content and lower fat content. They can help you feel fuller and more content after consuming fewer calories since they are more healthy.

An increase in workout activity

obese individual battling obesity causes with trusted trements

It’s common knowledge that maintaining and losing weight depends on both nutrition and activity. However, working out doesn’t always require going to the gym. For weight loss, walking at a moderate speed is among the most effective forms of exercise. Five days a week for just 30 minutes is what medical professionals recommend. A regular stroll before or after work, or at lunch, can help.

Counseling in behavior

You may benefit from counseling, support groups, and techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy in your weight reduction efforts. You can rewire your brain to encourage good changes by using these techniques. They can also assist you in addressing any emotional or psychological issues that could be hindering you and in managing your stress. We are all impacted by our weight and our attempts to lose it, so having both practical and emotional support may be beneficial.


Your doctor could suggest taking some drugs in addition to other forms of treatment. While they might assist in approaching weight reduction from a different perspective, medications aren’t the only solution. Appetizers, for instance, can block some brain circuits that influence hunger. This may represent a little piece of the jigsaw to some, but it may represent a larger one for others.

Typical FDA-approved medications to treat obesity consist of:

  • Orlistat: Diminishes your gut’s absorption of fat.
  • Phentermine: Reduces appetite. It can be used for a maximum of three months at a time.
  • Benzphetamine: Reduces hunger.
  • Diethylpropion: Reduces appetite.
  • Phendimetrazine: Reduces hunger.
  • Bupropion-naltrexone: May lessen food intake and cravings.
  • Liraglutide: Delays digestion and decreases appetite.
  • Semaglutide: Inhibits hunger.
  • Plenity®: a cellulose and citric acid blend that fills you up.
  • Lisdexamfetamine dimesylate, also known as Vense®: aids in the treatment of binge eating disorder symptoms.
  • Phentermine-topiramate: Reduces appetite.
  • Combination of glucagon-like-1 receptor agonists and SGLT2 inhibitors.

Surgery to lose weight

You may be able to benefit from bariatric surgery if you have been diagnosed with class III obesity. A drastic yet very successful long-term weight loss strategy is surgery. Rather than only altering your thoughts or behaviors, it also modifies your biology. Every bariatric surgery technique modifies your digestive tract in some manner. They limit how many calories you can take in and process. Additionally, they alter digestive tract hormones that impact appetite and metabolism.

Procedures for bariatric surgery consist of:

  • Sleeve gastrectomy
  • LAP band, or gastric band.
  • Roux-en-Y gastric bypass.
  • Duodenum switch.


How do you prevent becoming obese?

It is simpler to prevent obesity than to cure it once it has established itself. Your body strives to control your hunger signals and energy expenditure to maintain the same body mass, despite your weight-loss aspirations. Once it has established a new high “set point,” it will consider it to be your new baseline weight.

Examining your habits and making reasonable changes now can help you prevent future obesity and weight loss struggles; if you have a family history of obesity, or if you have noticed a pattern of recent weight gain in yourself or your child, you may want to take action sooner rather than later.

Make a little sacrifice

If you tend to reach for a calorie-dense snack or “pick-me-up,” such a sugary drink, every day, think about replacing it. An extra 150 calories a day may build up to 10 pounds in a year, which is the equivalent of a snack-sized bag of potato chips or simply two double-stuffed Oreos.
Include a little exercise. Alternatively, think about what you might do to burn an additional 150 calories every day. For instance, walk the dog briskly for 35 minutes, go on a hike, or use an elliptical machine for 25 minutes.

Whole foods are higher in fiber and lower in the glycemic index, so they don’t cause your blood sugar to surge and fall as processed snacks and treats do. Stock your house with nutritious foods and reserve sweets and treats for special occasions when you go out.
Focus on good improvements and healthy activities rather than how your efforts affect your weight. Cultivate overall well-being. Go outside and take walks. Manage your stress. Attempt to get enough sleep to keep your hormone levels in line. Cut down on your screen time.

Your healthcare provider will encourage you to reduce the risks associated with obesity by losing weight, which will be difficult but doable. Being obese increases your risk of developing certain adverse health conditions, but that doesn’t mean you already have them or that there’s nothing you can do about them.

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