Overweight and obesity – differences, causes and diseases they cause
Walking along the streets of our cities, we increasingly often meet people whose appearance indicates that their body weight deviates from the set norm. Such abnormalities of weight may be of various scale, starting from a small, few kilograms overweight, up to morbid obesity, threatening not only health, but in extreme cases even life. We have to honestly say that we are putting on weight at an enormous rate, and this unpleasant ailment is already considered by specialists to be a social disease, and at the same time one of the most difficult to cure. Even those few kilograms more should arouse our concern, because if we don’t control it, the results can be disastrous. There are many methods for fighting overweight and obesity, which we describe on this page, but it is also worth learning about the differences between these diseases, the causes causing them and the threat they pose to our body.
Overweight and obesity – how to distinguish them
Most of us think that the concepts of overweight and obesity are the same and there is no difference between them. Specialists, however, clearly state that there are differences, and they are diametrical, and their correct differentiation allows to apply the appropriate treatment, properly selected slimming treatment. Both ailments are directly related to the structure of the human body, consisting in large part of adipose tissue, the correct amount of which in women should not exceed 15 – 20 percent of body weight, and in men 12 percent. Any deviation, however small, from the norm means overweight, otherwise known as a transition state, which if neglected leads to obesity. It is, in a sense, a pre-disease state and it happens so because we provide the body with too much food, and this surplus energy, impossible to burn, the body begins to accumulate in the form of fat rolls in various parts of the body. Of course body weight increases automatically and it is assumed that we are overweight when it exceeds max. 10 percent of the norm, calculated for example from the BMI index, i.e. body mass index. This should definitely not be underestimated, because the next stage of the disease is obesity.
Obesity, in turn, is a situation where the excess body weight has long exceeded the safe 10 percent, and the World Health Organization estimates that this dangerous disease of civilization will affect every fourth person in the world by 2025. Most cases are reported in highly developed countries, including, of course, our continent, and in Poland we are already dealing with a real epidemic of overweight and obesity. Unfortunately, it affects not only adults, and doctors in our country are sounding the alarm that Polish children are gaining weight at the fastest rate in the whole of Europe. For almost 50 years, specialists have been classifying obesity as a chronic disease, involving virtually uncontrolled accumulation of fat tissue and weight gain, and dividing it into several grades, according to the calculated BMI index:
- BMI from 30 to 34.9 – first degree obesity;
- BMI from 35 to 39.9 – obesity of the second degree;
- BMI greater than 40 – giant obesity, posing a threat to life and requiring immediate treatment.
In short, we can say that we are dealing with obesity when the amount of adipose tissue in women exceeds 25, and in men 25 percent of total body weight.
Overweight and obesity – causes
It is difficult to identify just one cause for the increase in body weight, although we do not hide the fact that the most common is simply an unrestrained and difficult to satisfy appetite and an inappropriate, high-calorie diet, resulting precisely in excessive growth of fat tissue. While overweight and obesity are fundamentally different, the main cause remains the same for both. Lack of time to prepare a wholesome meal on our own makes us reach for whatever is at hand, most often for ready-made dishes reheated in a microwave, or for the most harmful fast food. We think that if we eat a pizza or a hamburger from time to time, it will not have a negative impact on our body, but when it is repeated regularly, weight goes up immediately. Such meals are also devoid of most of the nutrients necessary for health, which negatively affects the overall health.
Snacking and unhealthy diet are not the only reasons for this, equally often overweight and obesity are caused by:
- genetic conditions, and both conditions are often inherited from parents;
- environmental factors, mainly lifestyle, irregular diet, not eating breakfast, the most important meal giving energy for the day, not eating fruit and vegetables, eating only processed food;
- lack of physical activity, resulting not only from the sedentary nature of our work, but most often simply from our laziness;
- psychological factors, mainly strong stress or depression, sometimes resulting in excessive snacking;
- night eating syndrome, manifested by uncontrollable eating at night;
- Compulsive eating syndrome, also under severe stress or nervousness;
- Hormonal disorders, such as increased secretion of cortisol, ahormone that causes stress; thyroid disorders also have a large impact on weight gain;
- other coexisting diseases, often cancer;
- alcohol abuse, which interferes with digestion and body metabolism;
- taking certain medications, especially sedatives, progesterones and estrogens;
- economic factors which make it impossible to buy wholesome food;
- quitting smoking, which is often associated with significant weight gain.
Overweight and obesity – visible external symptoms
There is no denying that some of the above causes can also be found in ourselves, and correct and, most importantly, early diagnosis, makes it much easier to find an effective method to combat overweight and obesity. Their symptoms are so characteristic that, with the exception of a few cases, they cannot be confused with anything else. The first is, of course, weight gain and fat rolls deposited primarily on the abdomen, facial features may also be distorted. Other, equally frequent, are progressive limitations making it difficult to perform many seemingly mundane daily activities. There is also shortness of breath and excessive sweating at the slightest physical effort, such as simply climbing the stairs.
Overweight and obesity – the health risks they cause
The external symptoms are certainly important, but far more important is the havoc that obesity wreaks inside our bodies. The list of diseases to which we expose ourselves, leading to such a state, caused precisely by the accumulation of too much fat tissue, is very long, and the most dangerous among them are:
- diseases of the heart and the entire cardiovascular system, hypertension, atherosclerosis, ischemic heart disease, heart failure, leading to many serious complications including heart attack or stroke;
- diabetes, especially type 2 and elevated blood cholesterol levels;
- gallstones and kidney disorders;
- arthritis, especially in the lower limbs and spine, most often in the lumbar region, preventing even normal mobility;
- chronic venous insufficiency, manifested by painful and disfiguring varicose veins;
- diseases of the digestive system, not only the usual disorders of digestion or metabolism, but also troublesome constipation, inflammation of the gall bladder, intestines and stomach;
- disorders ofthe hormonal balance of the body;
- lowered libido, especially in men involving erectile dys function and reduced desire for sex;
- problems with getting pregnant, gettingpregnant and the health of the unborn child;
- asignificant reduction in life expectancy, even by several years.
Ignoring them is a mistake, the consequences of which are often irreparable. Therefore, when we see the first signs of being overweight or obese, it is time to start counteracting it. There are many methods that we can use, starting with a slimming diet, through pharmacological agents or dietary supplements supporting slimming, and all of them will be presented in more detail in the following posts.