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Overweight or obese

Both overweight and obesity refer to person’s overall body weight and whether it’s too high/much. The term “overweight” means – having extra body weight from muscle, bone, fat, and/or water. The term “obesity” means – having pretty high amount of extra body FAT.

There are many ways and possibilities for clarifying if a person is overweight or obese. According to experienced professionals the most useful measure of overweight and obesity is Body Mass Index (BMI) which is based on height and weight. BMI could be used for adults, children and teens.

The BMI (Body Mass Index) chart is considered the most common measurement for identifying the obesity and the stage of obesity. Body Mass Index (BMI) is usually used for objective obesity measures. Women could be considered overweight if their BMI is between 25 and 29.9 and women could be considered obese if their BMI is over 30.

BMI formula

During weight monitoring and BMI calculations some exceptions should be considered. For example, sometimes person with high BMI may have a normal amount of body fat and extra-weight could be correlated with heavy developed muscles (in sportsmen).

Anyone more than 100 pounds overweight is considered morbidly obese.

It is important to highlight that people who are overweight, and particularly those who are obese, have higher rates of death and illness than people of healthy weight, both overall and from a range of specific conditions. These include cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, psychological problems and reproductive problems for women.

Overweight or obese


While many factors could have the influence at the weight, overweight is due mainly to an imbalance of energy intake from the diet and energy expenditure through physical activity. Genetic and environmental factors play a role, but attention to diet and physical activity is important not only for preventing weight gain, but also for weight loss and subsequent maintenance.

Overeating and Negative Energy Balance

In general overweight persons usually eat 1.5 – 2.5 times more proteins, carbs and fats than it is necessary for normal function of their body. At the same time, overweight persons always tend to eat sweet, fatty and very caloric foods; consume more foods and drink those results in overeating and inability to burn the calories they received. Generally speaking, in overweight persons the amount of calories they receive with food and drinks are much higher than the amount of the calories they spend for body functions and physical activities. That is how energy disbalance occurs, and permanent prevalence of calorie intake over calorie spending leads to weight gain, overweight and obesity.

Physical Inactivity

XXI century modern life is characterized as INACTIVE with extreme lack of physical activities – a lot of time spent in front of TV, computers and other modern pleasant equipments. At the same time many people use cars for any movements including shopping, meeting friends, spending holidays, etc. Presently physical activities are minimized as much as possible. Modern people walk very little and avoid physical activities. Sedentary life-style plays a major role in weight gain – people do not spent all the energy received from foods and store it in the form of fat.
Average norms of our physiological needs make us spend about 600 Kcal a day, but we hardly spend 200-300 Kcal. The specialists argue that those people, who spend 2 hours a day watching TV have a strong tendency to become obese. It is well known that overweight people usually try to limit their physical activities that lead to gaining extra weight. This way overweight people fall into a vicious circle – inactivity leads to increased weight gain, and weight gain leads to increased inactivity. That is why it usually takes a lot of efforts to break this circle.

Eating Habits

Body weight fully depends on what we eat and how we eat. Many people have no time for having normal meals at work, so they try to compensate this with overeating in the evening. In addition having snacks and eating on feet does not bring to anything good as well. Modern fast food industry is well known killer of our health, not only because of the abundance of harmful fats and acids in those hamburgers and French fries, but also because of oversized portions and fast eating. Also, there is a great deal of spicy, fatty, over-salted and over-cooked foods in our daily diet. Consuming a lot of coffee, energy or alcoholic drinks also leads to weight gains.

Eating habits

So the following eating habits could be main causes for overweight:

  • Evening eating;
  • Fast food with harmful fats and acids;
  • Eating on food;
  • Non-controlled eating in front of TV and computer;
  • Non-controlled use of alcohol and energy drinks.

Genetic Predisposition

Sometimes overweight run in families which is explained by predisposition to being overweight. Genes can affect the amounts of fat your body stores. However, it was proven that the genetic factor can get activated only when it is accompanied with other factors, such as bad eating habits and physical inactivity.

Sicknesses and Medications

Some chronic diseases, hormonal dysfunctions and health conditions, such as hypothyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome, hypothalamic pathology, binge-eating and other eating disorders can cause overweight. At the same time some medications used regularly also can be a cause of overweight (antidepressants, corticosteroids, others).
Health providers should always inform clients about overweight risks and recommend adequate diets.

Emotional Factors

Emotional factors could be underestimated as the important causes of overweight and obesity. When we are stressed, worried, angry or depressed, we frequently tend to compensate our nervous tension with non-controlled eating ice-cream, nuts, sandwiches, pop-corns, sunflower seeds and other quite caloric fat foods. In general, during emotional stresses we consume more calories than we usually do, and if they are not spend in additional physical activities, we start storing extra calories, gaining weight and becoming overweight and/or obese.

Other Factors

  • Aging leads to less physical activity, causing weight gaining;
  • Pregnancy is another cause of weight changes in women;
  • People who have constant lack of sleep (night working professions);
  • Persons trying to quit smoking.

Overweight prevention

The most effective obesity prevention is healthy lifestyle which includes the combination of reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity. You should always balance your intake and energy output.
(see also Obesity Prevention on next page)


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