Obesity-its causes, symptoms, and prevention

Obesity forms due to an excessive amount of fat accumulation in the body and has not remained a mere cosmetic concern but is a serious medical problem that increases the risk of other dreadful diseases like diabetes, heart issues, cancers, or high blood pressure.

Globally, 83% of men and 72% of women are estimated to be overweight or obese by the end of 2020. Earlier, the percentage was 72% in men and 63% in women.


Obesity is a complex medical condition that has genetic, hormonal, metabolic, and behavioral influences on body weight. Obesity is the condition when you consume more calories than you burn through physical activity, exercise. Excessive calories are stored in your body as fatty tissues.

Most People with obesity might eat more calories before feeling full, feel hungry sooner, or eat more due to stress or anxiety.

Causes of obesity

Obesity is caused by consuming more compared to physical activities.

When you consume high amounts of food containing fat and sugars, but don’t burn off the calories through physical activity the surplus energy is stored in the body as fat causing obesity. Some of the reasons why fat is stored in your body include the following.


When there is a consumption of high calories food items obesity is caused. An average physically active man required approximately 2500 calories while a woman needs around 2000 calories a day to maintain a healthy weight.

However, the problem is many people aren’t physically active so the many calories that they consume are stored in their body as fat gradually leading to overweight and then obesity.

Poor diet

When people choose to eat a poor diet coupled with a poor lifestyle they tend to move towards being obese over a period of time. Some of the examples of poor lifestyle and diet include the following.

Eating high amounts of fast food containing high levels of fat and sugar.

Consuming excessive alcohol which contains high calories on a regular basis causes overweight and obesity.

Other reasons could be eating too much, eating larger portions, drinking excessive sugary drinks

Lack of physical activity

Most people lack physical activity as their job involves long hours of sitting in one place most of the time. They also use vehicles to move around rather than walk or do cycling. People tend to relax watching TV or playing games or browsing the Internet and refrain from doing any kind of exercise. Less active people tend to conserve the excess energy produced by the high-calorie food and gets stored in the body as fat. 


People with obesity running in their family are more likely to carry over the disease. In such people maintaining a healthy weight is difficult but not impossible. There are rare genetic conditions such as Prader-Willi syndrome that can cause obesity. Having said that in most cases obesity is caused by environmental factors, poor eating habits, and lifestyle.

Medical reasons

In certain cases, medical conditions could be the cause of gaining excessive weight like hypothyroidism—where thyroid glands do not produce enough hormones and impact the metabolism rate thus affecting the body weight. Another case in point is Cushing’s syndrome which is a rare disorder that causes the over-production of steroid hormones. However, if treated well these conditions produce less of a barrier to weight loss.

Sleep deprivation

 Lack of sleep can be an important cause of a higher risk of obesity. Such adults show a heightened hunger and calorie intake thus leading to obesity as per clinical studies. 

Warning signs

Some of the warning signs of obesity may include the following:

  • Genetic or parental obesity.
  • Having sleep deprivation.
  • High weight during birth.
  • Watching excessive TV.
  • Early development of body fat.
  • Fast weight gain.
  • Growth spurt.

Types of obesity

Depending on association with other diseases obesity can be typed as 

Type-1 obesity: This is due to the excessive consumption of calories compared to low or no physical activities.

Type-2 obesity: This is caused by hypothyroidism, insulinoma, Cushing syndrome, or polycystic ovarian disease. This type of obesity accounts for less than 1% of obesity cases. 

Types of obesity based on body mass index

Overweight with BMI 25.0 to 29.9.

Class 1 low-risk obesity having BMI from 30.0 to 34.9.

Class 2 moderate-risk obesity can be classified when BMI ranges from 35.0 to 39.9.

Class 3 or high-risk obesity is concluded when the BMI is equal to or greater than 40.0.

Complications of obesity

There are certain complications associated with obesity and that include the following: 

Heart Diseases

  • Hypertension
  • Type-2 diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Infertility
  • Liver and gallbladder diseases
  • Stroke
  • Cancers like breast, endometrial, or colon
  • Sleep apnea
  • Fatty liver 


Lifestyle changes can help control many risk factors such as helping an obese patient with a weight-loss program. Exercising daily and setting up an initial target of losing 10% of the current weight will significantly reduce the chances of obesity and related diseases.

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