Obesity - Diagnosing and Treatment

Obesity - Diagnosing and Treatment


A Severe Public Health Concern  

Obesity is a very common medical condition that has, in many parts of the world, reached epidemic proportions. It occurs when excess body fat builds up to the point where it can have a negative effect on one's overall health. This can lead to an increased risk for health problems as well as a decreased life expectancy. Obesity is one of the leading causes of preventable death all around the world, and it is becoming increasingly common in both children and adults. According to experts, it is one of the most severe public health concerns present in the 21st century.

Diagnosing Obesity

Obesity is defined by body mass index, or BMI, which is calculated based on an individual's height, and weight. In general, a healthy BMI is 18-25, and overweight individuals have a BMI of 25-30. Anyone with a BMI greater than 30 is considered to be obese. The higher the number, the higher the risk for severe complications and health problems brought on by excess weight. For further classification, doctors may evaluate patients based on their waist-hip ratio. Doctors also consider age and sex when determining whether or not a child or adolescent is obese.

Underlying Medical Conditions or Psychiatric Illnesses

Unlike most of the leading causes of death, obesity can be prevented in most cases. It generally occurs as the result of consuming an unhealthy diet and not getting enough exercise. While genetics do play a role and some people are more likely to struggle with excess weight than others, obesity can almost always be prevented. In a limited number of cases, obesity may also be caused by underlying medical conditions or psychiatric illness. Other contributors to the global obesity epidemic include insufficient sleep, decreased metabolism, and increased use of medications that cause weight gain.

Treatment Options

Treatment for obesity generally relies first on healthy diet and exercise. For those with poor diets and sedentary lifestyles, these changes are often enough to allow for weight loss over time. In cases of genetic, medical, or psychiatric problems, medications may be prescribed that can help with weight loss either directly or indirectly. For example, a depressed patient may be given antidepressants so he or she will become more active and lose weight while someone with a slow metabolism may be given prescription diet pills to aid in weight loss. In extreme cases, gastric bypass surgery may be recommended to help patients who need to lose drastic amounts of weight quickly.

Don’t Go Untreated

When left untreated, obesity is a leading cause of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and many other health conditions that can greatly reduce one's quality of life and overall life expectancy. When patients work to lose excess weight safely, however, they can greatly reduce their risk of experiencing such complications.

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