Obesity and overweight are two important chronic diseases that affect a significant proportion of the world population in these times.
In both cases, the human body accumulates a greater amount of body fat or adipose tissue than recommended; In the case of obesity, this accumulation is more intense in terms of body mass index and has a characteristic location, at waist height. Obesity is associated with a higher incidence of illness and death (morbidity and mortality).
Recall that the human body is composed of different types of tissues (in quantitative terms the bone and muscle are the main), which added to the viscera and fluids contribute to body weight.
While many people manage to maintain their body weight approximately constant, certain alterations in the hormonal and biochemical mechanisms that govern it, along with problems of life habits, can lead to a mismatch and cause weight gain in certain individuals.
Characteristics Of Obesity
1. Symptoms and Consequences
Obesity predisposes to suffer multiple health problems, which manifests itself with specific symptoms:
Respiratory The accumulation of fat under the diaphragm and in the chest wall can cause difficulty in breathing and suffocation, due to the pressure that fat mass exerts on the lungs. Sometimes this leads to sleep apneas, chronic bronchitis, etc.
Osteoarticular. Obese people often suffer from osteoarthritis, which means that the cartilage disappears and the bones collide directly with each other, causing pain, especially in the so-called “load joints” (knees, ankles and hips). It also aggravates problems of flat feet, hallux valgus (“bunions”).
Cardiovascular The obese subject is at higher risk of developing arterial hypertension, heart failure, myocardial infarction, ischemic heart disease and venous thrombosis.
Gastrointestinal. An association between obesity and the appearance of colorectal cancer and gastroesophageal reflux has been determined.
Metabolic Within the great constellation of metabolic alterations that appear in the obese individual, diabetes mellitus type 2 and the metabolic syndrome stand out.
2. Types of obesity
Regarding the distribution of adipose mass, obesity occurs in two modalities:
Central or Android obesity (because it is more characteristic of men), in which fat accumulates mainly in the trunk,
Peripheral, imoid or gynoid obesity, more frequent in women, in which fat accumulates mostly from the waist down. The central one is considered more serious, since it predisposes to suffer serious metabolic complications such as type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemias and cardiovascular disorders. Peripheral obesity, however, is also responsible for osteoarticular complications, due to the overload it entails.
3. Global impact
To illustrate the seriousness of this problem, it is reported that in 2014, some 600 million adults fell into the obese category; this represented 13% of the world population (11% of men and 15% of women).
Also the proportion of children with overweight or obesity is alarming: it reaches more than 42 million children under five years. This is why obesity is already considered an epidemic worldwide.
The best way to prevent obesity is food education. The human being must know what is the role of food in his life, and that it is important to adapt the intake to the metabolic needs of each moment of life.
The body mass index (BMI) is a simple indicator that establishes a relationship between the weight of people in kilos and their height or height in meters, squared (kg / m2).
A numerical data emerges, which is what the World Health Organization (WHO) has adopted to define obesity and differentiate it from overweight: when this value is equal to or greater than 30, the individual is considered obese; when this value is between 25 and 29, it is considered that there is overweight. Today there is a tendency to consider also the waist-hip circumference index, which is the abdominal circumference divided by the gluteal circumference.
6. Levels of seriousness
Although obesity should always be treated as an important disease, the therapeutic approach distinguishes common obesity from the so-called morbid obesity, which is the case of people whose body mass index is equal to or greater than 40, or equal or greater. of 35 but who already have associated at least one illness or serious disability derived from excess weight.
In morbid obesity, diets alone usually do not have an effect, so surgery is usually resorted to, either resectional or restrictive (for example, gastric bypass).
7. Caloric imbalance
The marked imbalance between caloric intake and caloric expenditure is what most contributes to the appearance of overweight and This is linked to a generalized trend towards dietary change, with a marked increase in the intake of high calorie foods, too rich in fat and sugars, to the detriment of the consumption of products of vegetable origin, which provide vitamins and minerals.
On the other hand, the decrease in physical activity associated with increasing urbanization and sedentary habits exacerbates this problem, which is seen more and more frequently in children and adults.
8. Psychological components
Epidemiological studies have established that the variable self-esteem is a determining factor in the problem of obesity, and that low self-esteem is a cause and at the same time a consequence of excess weight, which marks the need for an integral approach, also addressing psychological issues and emotional, when facing the treatment of this condition.
Given the high morbidity associated with obesity, countries are forced to incur significant expenses to care for these patients.
10. Social life
Often the obese girl or boy feels that her image does not respond to the aesthetic prototype of her peers, that generates a vicious circle of isolation and frustration, which can aggravate the symptoms of obesity.