People who are significantly overweight with an excessive amount of body on the breasts, belly, arms, bottom, thighs and even under the chin is a condition called Obesity. It may be due to over eating or other causes. To check if you are obese, individuals with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 are considered overweight, while individuals with a BMI of 30 or more are considered obese.

Overweight refers to increased body weight in relation to height. However, overweight may or may not be due to increases in body fat. It may also be due to an increase in lean muscle. For example, professional athletes may be very lean and muscular, with very little body fat, yet they may weigh more than others of the same height. While they may qualify as "overweight" due to their large muscle mass, they are not necessarily "over fat," regardless of BMI.

As for obesity, it is defined as an excessively high amount of body fat or adipose tissue in relation to lean body mass. The amount of body fat (or adiposity) includes concern for both the distribution of fat throughout the body and the size of the adipose tissue deposits. Skinfold measures, waist-to-hip circumference ratios, or techniques such as ultrasound, computed tomography, or magnetic resonance imaging can estimate body fat distribution.

Measuring BMI
BMI stands for Body Mass Index. It is a number that shows body weight adjusted for height. BMI can be calculated with simple math using inches and pounds, or meters and kilograms. For adults aged 20 years or older, BMI falls into one of these categories: underweight, normal, overweight, or obese.

Body Mass Index calculation using metric with this equation:

BMI = [Weight in Kilograms / (Height) x (Height)]

For example, a person who weighs 99.79 Kilograms and is 1.905 Meters (190.50 centimeters) tall has a BMI of 27.5.

Body Mass Index calculation using pounds and inches with this equation:

BMI = [Weight in Pounds / (Height in inches) x (Height in inches)] x 703

For example, a person who weighs 220 pounds and is 6 feet 3 inches tall has a BMI of 27.5.

Check your BMI against the chart below to determine your weight status:

Weight Status
Below 18.5
18.5 – 24.9
25.0 – 29.9
30.0 and Above

Remember that two people can have the same BMI, but a different percent body fat. A bodybuilder with a large muscle mass and a low percent body fat may have the same BMI as a person who has more body fat because BMI is calculated using weight and height only.
All persons who are obese or overweight should try not to gain additional weight. In addition, those who are obese or who are overweight with other risk factors should consider losing weight.

Whatever your BMI, talk to your doctor to see if you are at an increased risk for disease and if you should lose weight. Even a small weight loss (just 10% of your current weight) may help to lower the risk of disease. Physical activity and good nutrition are key factors in leading a healthy lifestyle and reducing risk for disease.

There are a variety of factors that play a role in obesity. Behavior, environment, and genetic factors may have an effect in causing people to be overweight and obese. Obesity and overweight are chronic conditions. We discuss some as follows:

· Overweight and obesity result from an energy imbalance. This involves eating too many calories and not getting enough physical activity.

· Body weight is the result of genes, metabolism, behavior, environment, culture, and socioeconomic status.

· Behavior and environment play a large role causing people to be overweight and obese. These are the greatest areas for prevention and treatment actions.

Genetics -How do genes affect obesity?
Science shows that genetics plays a role in obesity. Genes can directly cause obesity in disorders such as Bardet-Biedl syndrome and Prader-Willi syndrome.

However genes do not always predict future health. Genes and behavior may both be needed for a person to be overweight. In some cases multiple genes may increase one’s susceptibility for obesity and require outside factors; such as abundant food supply or little physical activity.

People may make decisions based on their environment or community. For example, a person may choose not to walk to the store or work because of a lack of time or walk ways. Communities, homes, and workplaces each shape health decisions. With fewer options for physical activity and healthy eating, it becomes more difficult for people to make good choices.

Lacking in activity
Our bodies need calories for daily functions such as breathing, digestion, and daily activities. Weight gain occurs when calories consumed exceed this need. Physical activity plays a key role in energy balance because it uses up calories consumed. The belief that physical activity is limited to exercise or sports, may keep people from being active. Another myth is that physical activity must be vigorous to achieve health benefits.

Physical activity is any bodily movement that results in an expenditure of energy. Moderate-intensity activities such as household chores, gardening, and walking can also provide health benefits. Confidence in one’s ability to be active will help people make choices to adopt a physically active lifestyle.

Genetics and the environment may increase the risk of personal weight gain. However, the choices a person makes in eating and physical activity also contributes to overweight and obesity. Behavior can increase a person’s risk for gaining weight.
Weight gain is a result of extra calorie consumption, decreasing calories used (physical activity) or both.

Other Causes - Diseases and Drugs
Some illnesses may lead to obesity or weight gain. These may include Cushing's disease, and polycystic ovary syndrome. Drugs such as steroids and some antidepressants may also cause weight gain. A doctor is the best source to tell you whether illnesses, medications, or psychological factors are contributing to weight gain or making weight loss hard.

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