Obesity symptoms, causes and effects

Obesity symptoms, causes and effects

What is obesity?

Obesity is a pathological and chronic inflammatory disease of moderate severity. It is characterized by an excessive accumulation of fat in the human body. In addition, obesity increases the risk of serious illnesses such as arterial hypertension, type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease and cancer.

Nowadays, advances in science and technology have radically changed the way people live. Food, clothing and technology have become more affordable than ever. As a result, people began to devote less time to cook to spend more time on leisure.

Why cook if you can put the bag in the microwave and get a ready meal in 5 minutes, or you can order your favorite dish from the restaurant and in 15 minutes, the delivery guy will bring it to you, still warm and flavored.

This craze for processed and high-calorie foods has put people at high risk of weight gain and obesity. According to the World Health Organization, by 2016, many countries have witnessed the prevalence of obesity among their citizens and the number of obese people worldwide reached 650 million. This figure has tripled since 1975.

Obesity facts

  • According to the CDC, the prevalence of obesity from 1999-2000 to 2017-2018 increased from 30.5% to 42.4%, and the proportion of severe obesity increased from 4.7% to 9.2%.
  • A study by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that approximately 19.3% of children and adolescents in the United States between the ages of 2 and 19 are obese, including 6.1% who are severely obese.
  • In 2016, US health care spending on chronic diseases driven by the risk factor of obesity and overweight accounted for $ 480.7 billion in direct health care costs, with an additional $1.24 trillion in indirect costs.

Signs and symptoms of obesity

One of the preferred indicators for determining obesity is the body mass index (BMI). The value of this indicator is calculated based on your height and weight. According to the classification created by the World Health Organization, a person may be considered obese if his BMI is more than 30.

BMI RangeWeight Status Category

In addition to the above, being overweight can be considered the main sign of obesity. Also, this disease usually accompanied by the following most common symptoms:

  • Back or joint pains
  • Excessive sweating
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Shortness of breath
  • Snoring and sleep apnea
  • Skin infections

What are the primary causes of obesity?

There are many different reasons that can lead people to become obese, and the most common ones are listed below.


Genes can determine the level of a person’s predisposition to obesity. However, the disease can manifest itself under the influence of various factors of development, behavior and the environment. For example, malnutrition, smoking, alcohol abuse, illness, stress at work, etc.

Dietary pattern

Another reason people can become obese is an energy imbalance caused by consuming more calories than a person spends for their daily activities. As a result, excess energy is stored in the human body in the form of fats. And excess body fat leads to obesity.

Here are some factors that may affect dietary patterns:

  • Eating too many foods high in saturated and trans fats.
  • The cheapness and availability of different types of food lead to people consuming far more calories than they need.
  • A food culture or diet that excluding healthy foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and low-fat dairy products.

Psychological factors

High stress or depression is one of the primary causes of increased consumption of high-calorie foods. Usually, in such cases, people use food as an antidepressant. Because it is a fast and reliable way to indulge yourself by using different flavors of your favorite dishes.If stressful conditions persist for a long time, it can lead to overeating and excess fat accumulation.

Physical activity

Nowadays, high technology has become an integral part of our life. More and more people can make money from the comfort of their homes, sitting at their laptops and drinking a cup of coffee. Thanks to the advent of computers and smartphones, people can buy food in just a couple of clicks, talk to their friends, who are on the other side of the planet and watch their favorite movies. And this is usually done while lying on your favorite couch.

All this leads people to an imbalance in their natural way of life. Many people have forgotten about the need for physical activity to keep their bodies fit and healthy.

Remember, the less physically active you are, the fewer calories you burn.

Social environment

The lifestyle and habits of a person are largely determined by many different factors, including the social environment of a person, the traditions of his family and personal goals. All this also affects the culture of individual nutrition and the level of physical activity.

For example:

  • Accommodation in a specific geographic area with limited food options.
  • The income level of family members affects the quality of the food consumed by the child and can form a food predisposition to unhealthy diets.
  • Constant stress at work or neglecting healthy eating habits to save time in the process of achieving career goals

Diseases and medications

Research shows that some medications have side effects that can lead to weight gain. Weight gain associated with medication can have many different causes.

Firstly, some drugs might affect your appetite. As a result, a person may start consuming more calories than necessary and gaining excess weight.

Moreover, some medicines may affect your metabolism level and the number of calories burned by your body.

Finally, certain medications, such as steroids, can interfere with your body’s hormonal functions. It can increase the risk of various types of severe obesity if the person does not follow the appropriate diet and therapy.

What are the causes of childhood obesity?

Childhood obesity is a serious disease, the consequences of which can be tragic for both children and their parents. In the case of children, obesity may be accompanied by the same illness as in adults – diabetes, high blood pressure, gallbladder disease and asthma. According to the World Health Organization, in 2016, more than 340 million children aged 5 to 19 were overweight or obese. 

Try our new BMI calculator for children

Below are several factors that can directly or indirectly affect your child’s health and obesity.


Some children may be much more prone to obesity than others. It may happen due to unhealthy eating habits of parents or diseases suffered before or during pregnancy. And all this is recorded in the genes and can be inherited by the child.

Family factor

The family has a high impact on the mental and physical development of the child. Healthy eating habits and behaviors established by the parents are very important for the child. The neglect of the culture of healthy eating in the family automatically affects the child’s diet and health.

Socioeconomic factor

If, for example, a family has a low income or lives in a not very prosperous area with limited access to sports grounds and supermarkets. It may affect a child’s ability to lead a healthy lifestyle and receive healthy, balanced meals. Obesity can be a side effect of this phenomenon caused by excessive fast food consumption and decreased physical activity.

In addition, most of the factors that affect adults work and for children, see above.

Health problems associated with obesity

Obesity is a serious disease that can lead to various complications if the necessary measures are not taken in time to treat and prevent it. Obesity is often associated with several health complications that can be life-threatening:

  • Type 2 diabetes 
  • Different types of cancer 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Gallbladder disease 
  • Asthma 
  • Shortness breathing 
  • Arthritis 
  • Sleep apnea 
  • Heart disease

Obesity treatment

Healthy diet plan

One of the reasons a person’s body accumulates a lot of fat is because a person consumes more calories than they need to keep their body active.

Therefore, one of the methods of treating and preventing obesity is a properly formulated diet. Typically, such a diet should eliminate high-calorie and hard-to-digest foods high in trans fats and sugars from your diet. 

For example, you can use a low-carb diet such as the ketogenic diet or the Atkins diet. Low-carb diets are all about limiting the number of carbohydrates you eat. It should help your body switch to a special state called ketosis. In this state, the body begins to process fats into special substances called ketones. It allows the body to switch to using fat as the primary source of energy for the body.

You should consult with your doctor or nutritionist to help you plan the correct nutritional diet.

Weight-loss medicines

Medicines are another way to treat obesity. They are usually used as an addition to a diet and exercise plan, or in extreme cases when all other things do not help. It is also worth remembering that medications have many side effects that can lead to new diseases.

If you still want to take medication, consult with your doctor and do not self-medicate.

Bariatric surgery

Bariatric surgery may help when a person is severely obese and other treatments no longer work. The idea behind this surgery is to restrict the size of the stomach or small intestine to reduce the number of calories consumed.

There are several main criteria for determining the need for surgery: 

  • Your BMI reaches 40 or higher 
  • Your BMI is in the 35-40 range and you have type 2 diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease. 

There are many different types of surgical intervention in such cases and the most basic ones are described below.

  • Gastric band – involves putting a silicone ring on the upper part of the stomach and this helps to reduce the stomach size. A smaller stomach fills with food more quickly and a feeling of fullness appears. 
  • Gastric bypass – The surgeon makes the stomach smaller by dividing it into the upper and lower parts with staples. Then the small intestine is attached to the top. As a result, the body absorbs fewer calories. 
  • Sleeve gastrectomy – the volume of the stomach is reduced by removing part of it, and as a result, you feel satiety eating less food

Hormonal treatment

Hormone treatment can be another way to treat obesity. Scientists in 2014 have noticed that the beneficial effect of bariatric surgery is associated with changes in intestinal hormones. Hormones, in turn, are responsible for the feeling of hunger, the rate of absorption of nutrients, etc. 

Therefore, at the moment, scientists are actively looking for new methods of influencing intestinal hormones.

How to prevent obesity?

Since obesity is often caused by a number of factors that affect the human body, there is no single solution for this problem. To prevent the appearance of this disease and the associated consequences, a set of measures should be taken to maintain the body in a state of healthy balance.

Assess and maintain your weight at a healthy level

Keep a diary and periodically record your weighing results and BMI (use our BMI calculator). It will help you keep track of negative and positive factors affecting your health.

Eat less junk and processed food

Try to eliminate unhealthy or processed foods from your diet as they contain high amounts of sugar, sodium, and fat. It can cause obesity and several chronic diseases associated with it.

It is best to replace such food with fruit or vegetables. You can also prepare meals yourself and it will help you control the number of micronutrients the body needs. It may take longer than ordering ready-made food, but it will extend your life, so you will have more time to put your ideas into practice.

Add more fruits and vegetables to the diet

Fruits and vegetables are natural suppliers of phytochemicals and nutrients necessary for the body to support the mechanisms of combating obesity and normalizing microflora. In addition, they are easy to digest and do not overload the digestive system.

However, it is worth remembering that a person who is not used to eating fruits and vegetables in his diet may experience some discomfort when taking them associated with cleansing the body.

Exercise regularly

Regular physical activity and exercise will help you shed excess calories and keep your body in good shape. The CDC recommends exercising at least 150 minutes per week, or 30 minutes every day for 5 days. You can get even better results if you practice up to 300 minutes a week. 

Add a variety of exercises at different levels of intensity to your routine. Combine strength and cardio exercises for maximum effect. If such a task is too hard for you, start with walking 10-30 minutes a day at a brisk pace. It’s one of the best steps towards keeping your body in good shape.

Focus on reducing your stress levels

Finding the body under prolonged stress can affect the brain’s activity and the body’s dietary pattern. Usually, after stress, the body tends to get enough high-calorie food with a pronounced taste, which can lead to the accumulation of body fat. 

Therefore, it is very important to create an atmosphere for yourself to emotionally relax and recharge. It can be yoga, listening to your favorite music, painting, or meditation. It is also very helpful to find a place for yourself in which you will be alone with yourself in silence for at least 15 minutes a day.

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