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Obese is a term used to describe a person carrying excess body fat and who is significantly overweight. A test commonly used to determine obesity is BMI, a BMI score of 30-39.9 tells us a person is obese whilst a score of 40+ tells us they are severly obese. Another test used to indicate obesity is waist circumference measurements, a male with a waist of 94 cm or higher or a female with a waist of 80 cm or higher is likely to be obese. 


Causes of obesity

Obesity is due to a calorie imbalance, this is when a person consumes more calories than they use up during exercise, any excess calories will be stored as fat. Obesity is a rapidly increasing problem due to modern society and lifestyle, such as the easy access to high-calorie low price food options and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle[1]. It is recommended for a adult female to consume 2000 calories a day whilst an adult male should consume 2500 calories a day assuming they are physically active. People easily consume over these recommended amounts if they eat large portions, drink too many alcoholic or sugary drinks or eat processed or fast food on a regular basis. Also improved transport now means less people walk and cycle instead opting for easier options such as using a car[2]

Health problems may also contribute to obesity such as hypothyroidism, this is where a person has an underactive thyroid gland which can lead to weight gain if not controlled by medication[3]. Also see antagonist.

Risks of obesity

Obesity can lead to impacts on both physiological and psychological health.

A person who is obese is at increased risk of developing serious conditions such as type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and some cancers such as breast cancer. Obesity will also lead to less serious problems which are likely to affect a persons day to day life such as breathlessness, joint and back pain and increased sweating.

Psychologically obesity can have several neagtive effects on a person such as them having reduced self esteem, feeling isolated or becoming depressed. 

Being obese and the poor health resulting from it means obesity reduces life expectancy by up to 10 years, also it is approximated 1 in 13 deaths in Europe are contributed to by obesity[4].

Treating obesity

Treatment for obesity can be simple in that a person can just exercise more frequently and eat a more healthy, balanced diet in order to lose weight. It is recommended for adults to take part in 150-300 minutes of high intensity physical activity per week. A healthy, balanced diet means to eat foods from all the food groups, eat 5 fruit or vegetables a day and to eat fatty and sugary foods only in moderation. Also for psychological support a person could visit their GP or attend a weight loss support group.

If after trying this approach a person is still struggling to lose weight, a medication may be prescribed called orlistat, this works by reducing the amount of fat a person can absorb and so helps them to lose weight[5]. In more severe cases it may be reccommended for a person to undergo bariatric surgery such as gastric banding or gastric bypass, in an effort to help them get back to a healthy weight, however these proceedures are high risk due to the low health of obese patients[6]


  1. Obesity. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Obesity/Pages/Introduction.aspx (accessed 15 June 2016)
  2. Causes of obesity. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Obesity/Pages/Causes.aspx (accessed 15 June 2016)
  3. Foundation, B. (2017). Your Thyroid Gland - British Thyroid Foundation. [online] Btf-thyroid.org. Available at: http://www.btf-thyroid.org/information/your-thyroid-gland.
  4. Obesity. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Obesity/Pages/Introduction.aspx (accessed 15 June 2016)
  5. Obesity. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Obesity/Pages/Introduction.aspx (accessed 15 June 2016)
  6. Weight loss surgery. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/weight-loss-surgery/Pages/Introduction.aspx (accessed 26 March 2016)
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