Thursday, September 25, 2008

An Introduction To Obesity

Obesity results when too much fat accumulates in the body. A person is normally considered obese when his or her weight is 20% over the normal body-weight for height and age and the Body Mass Index (BMI) measures 30 or more. Now recognized as a serious medical problem, obesity affects about 30% of adults, and about 14% of children and adolescents in the United States.

Obesity may be caused by a number of social, cultural, behavioral, physiological, metabolic, and genetic factors that are beyond the person’s control. Symptoms of obesity usually show up in the form of breathing trouble, excess accumulation of fat, insulin resistance, increase in size or number of fat cells, rise in blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and back pain.

A variety of treatments exist for obesity that includes diet and behavior therapy to medicine and surgery. The treatments usually depend on the levels of BMI, while others may be an individual choice. While diet therapy involves a prescribed diet and exercise plan, behavior therapy teaches new behaviors that promote weight loss. If a person’s condition demands so, a doctor may recommend a combination of both. For a person having a BMI of 40 or a BMI of 35 to 39.9 accompanied by serious medical problems, doctors usually recommend gastrointestinal surgery.

The old adage, ‘prevention is better than cure’ holds true in the case of obesity also. While many genetic factors that may cause obesity are beyond a person’s control, the other factors can be prevented through education, knowledge, a good diet, and exercise. If you teach your children healthy eating and exercise and make them aware of the dangers associated with obesity, it is highly likely that they will carry this knowledge and these behaviors into their adulthood and avoid obesity.

By Jeanette Pollock

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