Obesity: Causes, symptoms and prevention


Obesity is a medical condition characterized by an excessive accumulation of body fat, to the point where it may have a negative impact on a person’s health. A common way to measure obesity is through the Body Mass Index (BMI), which calculates an individual’s weight in relation to their height. A BMI of 30 or higher indicates obesity. Obesity is associated with a higher risk of several health problems such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, sleep apnea, and some types of cancer.

Calculate BMI

BMI can be calculated using the following formula:

BMI = weight (kg) / height² (m²)

Here are the steps to calculate your BMI:

  1. Measure your weight in kilograms (kg). If you know your weight in pounds, you can convert it to kilograms by dividing it by 2.205.
  2. Measure your height in meters (m). If you know your height in feet and inches, you can convert it to meters by multiplying your height in feet by 0.3048 and then adding your height in inches multiplied by 0.0254.
  3. Once you have your weight in kilograms and height in meters, square your height by multiplying it by itself (height²).
  4. Divide your weight in kilograms by your height squared in meters (BMI = weight (kg) / height² (m²)).

For example, if you weigh 70 kilograms and are 1.75 meters tall, your BMI would be calculated as follows:

BMI = 70 / (1.75²) = 22.9

A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered healthy. A BMI below 18.5 is considered underweight, while a BMI above 25 is considered overweight, and a BMI above 30 is considered obese. However, it’s important to note that BMI is just one measure of health and does not take into account factors such as muscle mass or body composition.


There are several factors that can contribute to obesity, including:

  1. Poor diet: Consuming a diet that is high in calories, saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and processed foods can lead to weight gain and obesity.
  2. Sedentary lifestyle: Lack of physical activity or a sedentary lifestyle can lead to weight gain and obesity. People who sit for long periods of time, such as at a desk job, are at a higher risk for obesity.
  3. Genetics: Certain genetic factors can predispose individuals to obesity. Studies have shown that the heritability of obesity is estimated to be between 40-70%.
  4. Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as hypothyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), can cause weight gain and contribute to obesity.
  5. Medications: Some medications, such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, and corticosteroids, can cause weight gain and contribute to obesity.
  6. Environmental factors: Factors such as access to healthy food options, socioeconomic status, and cultural norms can also play a role in obesity.

It’s important to note that obesity is often the result of a combination of these factors, and the underlying causes can be complex and multifaceted. However, in most cases, obesity results from an imbalance between energy intake (i.e. calories consumed) and energy expenditure (i.e. calories burned through physical activity and metabolism).


The symptoms of obesity can vary from person to person, and may not be obvious at first. However, some common signs include:

  1. Increased body weight and body mass index (BMI)
  2. Excessive accumulation of fat around the waist, hips, and other parts of the body
  3. Difficulty in physical activities, such as climbing stairs, walking, or exercising
  4. Breathlessness and shortness of breath during physical activity
  5. Fatigue and low energy levels
  6. Excessive sweating
  7. Joint pain and stiffness
  8. Sleep disturbances, including sleep apnea and snoring
  9. High blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  10. Type 2 diabetes
  11. Heart disease and stroke

Obesity can also cause psychological issues such as low self-esteem and depression. It is important to note that not everyone who is overweight or obese may have all of these symptoms, and some individuals may experience other health issues related to their weight. If you are concerned about your weight or have any of these symptoms, it is important to consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.


Preventing obesity involves making healthy lifestyle choices, which includes:

  1. Eating a healthy and balanced diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low in processed foods, sugary drinks, and saturated fats.
  2. Engaging in regular physical activity, such as brisk walking, jogging, or cycling, for at least 30 minutes a day, most days of the week.
  3. Getting enough sleep, as studies have shown that lack of sleep can lead to weight gain.
  4. Limiting screen time, as excessive time spent watching TV, playing video games, or using the computer can contribute to a sedentary lifestyle.
  5. Managing stress, as stress can lead to overeating and weight gain.

In conclusion, obesity is a complex medical condition that can have serious health consequences. It is important to be aware of the symptoms and causes of obesity, and take proactive steps to prevent it. By making healthy lifestyle choices and seeking professional guidance, individuals can take control of their health and reduce their risk of developing obesity-related health problems.

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