Obesity is a condition where a person has too much body fat, such that it leads to a serious risk of developing additional health problems. People with obesity have a weight which is unhealthy for their height – a measure usually called the “Body Mass Index” (BMI). People with a BMI that qualifies them as obese are generally at a greater risk for several other conditions such as heart disease, diabetes type 2, stroke, arthritis, certain cancers, and obstructive sleep apnea (a disease most commonly tied to loud snoring). While some lifestyle choices can be clearly linked to a person’s obesity, many things can impact the ability to maintain a healthy BMI (including genetics), to the point that the American Medical Association has officially classified obesity as a disease. It is estimated that over 10% of adults across the world can be considered obese, and it is also the world’s leading cause of preventable death.
When You Should See Your Doctor About Obesity
If you believe that you may be suffering from any negative health effects related to your being overweight, you should discuss your symptoms and/or concerns with your doctor. In the event of an emergency such as heart attack, stroke, or other severe health problem, always seek immediate medical attention.
Causes of Obesity
While some other diseases may cause a person to become obese, these are rare, and the most common causes & risk factors include:
- An inactive lifestyle
- Unhealthy diet and/or eating habits
- Genetic problems with burning calories from food
- Side-effects of certain medications
- Poor sleep schedule
- Cushing’s Syndrome (overexposure to a hormone called ‘Cortisol’)
- Prader-Willi Syndrome (a rare genetic mutation)
Diagnosis of Obesity
Obesity is diagnosed based on your Body Mass Index (BMI). The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute provides a free online calculator here, that allows you to estimate your BMI easily at home. If you make the decision to see a doctor about your weight, he/she will usually take a detailed medical history and preform a physical exam to check for other health problems that may be connected with obesity. This generally involves examining your heart, lungs, and administering a standard blood test.
Treatment of Obesity
Although your doctor may prescribe other treatments to address problems that could have developed because of obesity (such as medication to manage the effects of diabetes), he/she will also likely present you with a variety of options to begin correcting your weight issues, including:
- Dietary changes (and possible nutritional counseling)
- Regimens for increased physical activity
- Prescription weight-loss medications
- Surgical intervention (to both assist in losing weight and to maintain a long-term healthy BMI)
You can trust the highly experienced, board-certified gastroenterologists at Atlantic Digestive Specialists to provide you with personal care and the latest diagnostic and treatment capabilities. Experts in treating obesity, contact us now.