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Let us understand obesity better and also analyse criticality of body weight.

Factors that cause obesity
A sluggish lifestyle and unhealthy food choices are prime factors that may lead to obesity. Medical conditions such as Cushing disease, PCOS, hypothyroidism and binge eating disorder (BED) may also be the cause of obesity. One must take tests to evaluate the cause of obesity so as to seek the right treatment. Studies show that excess stress mainly contributes in development of obesity.

Obesity may also occur as a side effect of consumption of medicines such as antidepressants, corticosteroids and anti-epileptic drugs. Other factors include quitting smoking suddenly, pregnancy and ageing.

Are you at Risk?
People who are overweight are at a greater risk of developing obesity. Risk increases further if the weight gain is more prominent around the abdominal area.

Those who have higher body fat are also at risk. Body fat is unhealthy but body does require some amount of fat to support functioning and safety of vital organ systems. One part of this necessary fat is called essential body fat (other part is the stored body fat). The required percentage of essential body fat for women is 8 to 12 percent and for men is 3 to 5 percent.

Another important factor is BMI or body mass index. BMI is the index that provides weight: height ratio. A person with BMI of more than 30 is considered obese. If the BMI is between 25 and 29 then a person is said to be overweight. But please note that BMI is not a concluding factor.

Other factors that indicate a risk are excess sweating (even at rest) and breathlessness after a minor physical activity.

BMR is the chief criteria for determining occurrence of obesity. People with lower BMR are at a higher risk of being obese. It is through BMR that we can clearly understand how obesity is a preventable medical condition (to an extent) as well as the role of genes in occurrence of obesity.

Relation between Obesity and BMR
BMR or basal metabolic rate is the rate at which the body burns calories to generate energy for metabolic functions of vital organs in the body. BMR helps in understanding the number of calories required by the body to maintain the current weight. Genes play a major role in an individual’s BMR. Health and fitness experts will suggest many external methods to achieve the appropriate BMR.

For example, a person with low BMR can increase metabolism by following a vigorous exercise routine. It is important to have a good BMR in order to have optimal body weight and hence prevent obesity. People with a tendency to gain weight must use the knowledge of BMR to maintain a healthy weight.

Health Risks
Obesity brings with it a cascade of medical problems like diabetes (especially diabetes type 2), cancer, osteoporosis, gout, high blood pressure, gallbladder disease, varicose veins, skin abnormalities, arthritis, and problems associated with lungs, kidneys and heart.

According to a research carried out by the California Pandemic Working Group for HINI in 2009, obesity is an absolute risk factor for incidence of H1N1 infection in people (study strictly based on 2009 H1N1 infection) and is responsible for their death due to the disease.

Benefits of maintaining ideal weight
Obesity is a preventable health condition. The first step is to make efforts to achieve ideal body weight. Ideal weight is calculated using information of one’s height, weight and gender. Those with an ideal weight enjoy many health benefits. They possess a very low risk of developing lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, cancer and arthritis.

According to a study done by Siteman Cancer Center (Washington), conducted on 150, 000 individuals over a period of 10 years, very strongly suggests that those who exercise regularly (and hence have a healthy weight) are at a much lower risk of developing colon cancer.

Ideal Weight Chart
Following are two ideal weight charts, each for men and women. The data has been arranged such that the lower limit of the weight mentioned is for those with small body frame and the highest value is the maximum limit provided for people with large body frame.

Ideal weight chart for men:

Height (feet and inches)

Weight (in pounds)

5’2” 128-150
5’3” 130-153
5’4” 132-156
5’5” 134-160
5’6” 136-164
5’7” 138-168
5’8” 140-172
5’9” 142-176
5’10” 144-180
5’11” 146-184
6’0” 149-188
6’1” 152-192
6’2” 155-197
6’3” 160-199
6’4” 164-201

Ideal weight chart for women:

Height Weight
4’10” 92-119
4’11” 94-122
5’0” 96-125
5’1” 98-128
5’2” 102-131
5’3” 105-134
5’4” 108-138
5’5” 111-142
5’6” 114-146
5’7” 118-150
5’8” 122-154
5’9” 126-158
5’10” 130-163

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