Over the past decade, adult obesity rates in the United States have climbed higher than ever before, from 33.7% in 2007/2008 to 39.6% in 2016/2017, according to U.S. News.
The causes of a person being overweight are varied and can change drastically from person to person.
And, statistics show, the obesity epidemic is not slowing down.
First, though, what is obesity? Why is it such a big deal, and what negative effects can it have on your health?
What Exactly Is Obesity?
Obesity occurs when a person is dangerously overweight. This means the amount of extra weight they carry on their body (mostly in the form of fatty tissue) far exceeds what is considered normal or healthy.
In general, to determine if someone is obese, experts and doctors use the Body Mass Index (BMI) to compare a person’s height to their weight. People with a high ratio of body fat for their height will be labeled “obese”.
How to Find Your Body Mass Index
To determine your BMI, you need to divide your weight in kilograms by the square of your height in meters.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that equation might look like this:
- Weight (kg) / [height (m)]² = BMI
If you want to determine your BMI using pounds and inches, the formula looks like this:
- Weight (lb) / [height (in)]2 x 703
You can also figure out your BMI by using the Body Mass Index table.
For instance, a person 5’7” tall would determine their height in inches (67). They would find the corresponding height column and line it up with the column that matches their weight. So, if that person were 195 pounds, their BMI would be 30.
According to the table, their BMI classifies them as obese.
The Causes of Obesity, Plus 3 Negative Effects Being Overweight Has on Your Health
How do people become obese?
There can be a variety of factors at play, including their genes, their lifestyle and habits, and their knowledge about healthy eating.
Causes of Obesity
The most common causes of obesity fall into two categories:
- Lack of physical activity
- Poor diet and unhealthy eating habits
However, sometimes obesity is the result of factors beyond the person’s control. These can include:
- Your Genes – Some people have genes that predispose them to be overweight. For example, your genes can effect how efficiently your body burns calories and how it turns the food you consume into energy.
- Medications – Some medications can cause additional weight gain, which may contribute to obesity. For example, some medications for diabetes, depression, and seizures can cause weight gain.
- Diseases or Medical Issues – Some medical conditions can cause weight gain, including Cushing’s syndrome, an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), and more. You may also gain weight if you have limited mobility due to conditions like arthritis.
Take note that obesity is usually never the result of just one cause. Instead, a variety of causes will contribute to a person’s excessive weight gain.
3 Major Ways Obesity Can Hurt Your Health
There are huge health risks involved with being morbidly overweight. Here are 3 negative ways obesity can impact your health.
- Bone and Joint Issues – Obesity can cause joint and bone problems, like osteoarthritis, because the extra weight puts stress on them, particularly the knees and hips.
- High Blood Pressure – Your heart has to work harder to supply blood to your tissues if you have excess fat. Because your heart will have to pump more blood, your blood vessels will endure additional pressure. Fatty deposits can also build up in your arteries, which leads to coronary heart disease and even heart attack.
- Respiratory Problems – Excess weight can put additional pressure on your lungs, making it harder to breathe.
Overweight Risk Factors
If you’re obese, because of the negative health effects, you’ll increase your risk for health issues like:
- Certain types of cancer
- Kidney disease
- Heart disease
- Sleep apnea
- Type 2 diabetes
- Liver disease
Obesity Statistics: 5 Sobering Facts
Obesity is widespread and becoming more prevalent all over the world. Here are some incredibly sobering facts about this health issue:
- In 1975, the obesity rate for children and adolescents worldwide was just 4%. By 2016, it had nearly quintupled to 18%.
- In 2008, the estimated medical cost annually for obesity was $147 million in the U.S.
- In 2016, adults who reported never graduating from high school had the highest prevalence of obesity, according to a CDC survey.
- According to the same survey, young adults aged 18-24 were 50% less likely to have obesity than adults aged 45-54.
- The Southern United States has the highest rate of obesity in the country, followed by the Midwest and the Northeast.
- Obesity is a health problem in every segment of the population in the United States.
Are You Obese? If So – There are Steps You Can Take
If you find that you are Obese, or just overweight, there are many options to help you lose weight.
Start with exercise and a healthy eating plan.
If that doesn’t seem to be working, consult your doctor. They can assess your health and help you discover if there are any health issues at play that may be affecting your weight.