We explain what obesity is, the symptoms and consequences of this chronic disease and what its main characteristics are.

What is obesity?

Obesity and overweight are two important chronic diseases that affect a significant proportion of the world population in these times. In both cases, the human body accumulates an amount of body fat or adipose tissue that is higher than recommended; in the case of obesity, this accumulation is more intense in terms of body mass index and has a characteristic location, at waist height. Obesity is associated with a higher incidence of disease and death (morbidity and mortality).

Let us remember that the human body is made up of different types of tissues (in quantitative terms, bone and muscle are the main ones), which, added to the viscera and liquids , contribute to body weight.

Although many people manage to maintain their body weight approximately constant , certain alterations in the hormonal and biochemical mechanisms that govern it, along with lifestyle problems, can lead to imbalance and cause weight gain in certain individuals.

Characteristics of obesity :

  1. Symptoms and Consequences

Symptoms and Consequences

Obesity predisposes to multiple health problems, which manifests itself with specific symptoms:

  • Respiratory. The accumulation of fat under the diaphragm and in the chest wall can cause shortness of breath and choking, due to the pressure that this fatty mass exerts on the lungs. Sometimes this leads to sleep apnea, chronic bronchitis, etc.
  • Osteoarticular. Obese people often suffer from osteoarthritis, which means that the cartilage disappears and the bones collide directly with each other, causing pain, especially in the so-called "load-bearing joints" (knees, ankles and hips). It also aggravates flat foot problems, hallux valgus (“bunions”).
  • Cardiovascular. The obese subject is at higher risk of developing arterial hypertension, heart failure, myocardial infarction, ischemic heart disease and venous thrombosis.
  • Gastrointestinal. An association between obesity and the appearance of colorectal cancer and gastroesophageal reflux has been determined.
  • metabolic. Within the great constellation of metabolic alterations that appear in the obese individual, type 2 diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome stand out.

  1. types of obesity

Regarding the distribution of adipose mass, obesity occurs in two forms:

  • Central or android obesity (because it is more characteristic of men). In which the fat accumulates mainly in the trunk,
  • Peripheral obesity, imoid or gynoid. More frequent in women, in which the fat accumulates above all from the waist down. The central one is considered more serious, since it predisposes to serious metabolic complications such as type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia and cardiovascular disorders. Peripheral obesity, however, is also responsible for osteoarticular complications, due to the overload it entails.

  1. world impact

world impact

To illustrate the seriousness of this problem, it is reported that in 2014, some 600 million adults fell into the obese category ; this represented 13% of the world's population (11% of men and 15% of women).

The proportion of children who are overweight or obese is also alarming : it reaches more than 42 million children under five years of age. This is why obesity is already considered an epidemic worldwide.

  1. Prevention

The best way to prevent obesity is dietary education . The human being must know what is the role that food has in his life .

  1. BMI

The body mass index (BMI) is a simple indicator that establishes a relationship between the weight of people in kilos and their height or height in meters, squared (kg/m 2 ).

Thus, a numerical datum emerges, which is what the World Health Organization (WHO) has adopted to define obesity and differentiate it from overweight: when this value is equal to or greater than 30, the individual is considered obese this value is between 25 and 29, it is considered to be overweight. Today there is a tendency to also consider the waist-hip circumference index (WCI), which is the abdominal circumference divided by the gluteal circumference.

  1. severity levels

severity levels

Although obesity should always be treated as a major disease, the therapeutic approach distinguishes common obesity from so-called morbid obesity , which is the case of people whose body mass index is equal to or greater than 40, or equal to or greater than 35 but already have at least one serious disease or disability associated with being overweight.

In morbid obesity , diets alone do not generally have an effect , so surgery is usually resorted to, either resectionist or restrictive (for example, gastric bypass ).

  1. caloric imbalance

The marked imbalance between caloric intake and caloric expenditure is what most contributes to the appearance of overweight and this is linked to a general trend towards dietary change, with a notable increase in the intake of hypercaloric foods, too rich in fat and sugars , to the detriment of the consumption of products of plant origin, which provide vitamins and minerals.

On the other hand, the decrease in physical activity associated with growing urbanization and sedentary habits exacerbate this problem , which is seen more and more frequently in children and adults.

  1. psychological components

psychological components

Epidemiological studies have established that the self- esteem variable is a determining factor in the problem of obesity, and that low self-esteem is both a cause and a consequence of excess weight , which indicates the need for a comprehensive approach, also addressing psychological issues and emotional, when dealing with the treatment of this condition.

  1. costs

Given the high morbidity associated with obesity, countries are forced to incur significant costs to care for these patients .

  1. Social life

Often the obese girl or boy feels that their image does not correspond to the aesthetic prototype of their peers , which generates a vicious circle of isolation and frustration, which can aggravate the symptoms of obesity.

The above content published at Collaborative Research Group is for informational and educational purposes only and has been developed by referring reliable sources and recommendations from experts. We do not have any contact with official entities nor do we intend to replace the information that they emit.


MA student of the TransAtlantic Masters program at UNC-Chapel Hill. Political Science with a focus on European Studies. Expressed ideas are open to revision. He not only covers Technical articles but also has skills in the fields of SEO, graphics, web development and coding. .

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