A person who has a body weight that is 20% or more than the designated normal weight is considered to be obese. Obesity actually refers to the excess amount of fat present in the body. Based on the statistical measurement of Body Mass Index or BMI, obesity refers to BMI above 30. BMI is a description of body weight relative to the height of the person, but the measure does not take into account the amount of fat present in the body. Obesity is a very common health problem worldwide. People who have BMI above 40 are referred to as morbidly obese. Obesity is of concern, as it affects the normal functioning and health of a person.
The major cause of obesity is eating more than what can be burned by the body. In most cases, indulging in too little exercise causes the accumulation of fat making the person obese.
Some of the factors that lead to obesity include:
- Family history – The risk of becoming obese increases if one or both the parents are obese. The chances of developing obesity for a child born to obese mother are about 75%. Hormones involved in the regulation of body fat are also affected by genes. Presence of genes that causes deficiency of leptin, a hormone that sends the message to eat less when body has stored enough fat, is a condition that may throw the balance off and result in obesity.
- Age and metabolic rate – As a person grows old, the metabolic rate slows down thus reducing the amount of calories required by the body. So a person having the same quantity of food as in the early years will tend to accumulate fat and gain weight.
- Gender – Since women have less muscle mass than men, the metabolic rate also decreases relatively. Thus women tend to become overweight and losing the extra pounds is also harder in this gender.
- Physical activity – Activities increase the burning of calories and help to maintain healthy weight. With decreased activity and increased appetite, the body tends to build up more fat making the person overweight and obese.
- Health issues – A number of illnesses is found to increase the chances of obesity. These illnesses include hypothyroidism, depression, Cushing’s syndrome and other disorders that increase appetite.
- Certain medications – Drugs used in the treatment of steroids and antidepressants lead to weight gain.
- Emotional influence – Many people tend to eat more when bored, sad, stressed or angry. Emotional eating is a disorder that can lead to putting of extra kilos which is difficult to shed.
- Family history, age, metabolic rate, gender, physical activity, health issues, certain medications, and emotional influences can contribute to obesity in an individual.