Obesity and Its Problems

In this article

What is obesity? How has it evolved? How to measure the body fat? What health risks occur with obesity?

What is obesity?

Obesity is a medical condition that occurs when a person carries excess accumulation body fat causing body fat derived rise in the body weight. Obesity isn't just a cosmetic concern. It increases your risk of diseases and serious health problems.

How has it evolved?

Over the millennia, man’s diet has changed from a protein rich diet which was prevalent during when he was a hunter-gatherer to a more carbohydrate rich diet when the man started farming.

Furthermore, in times of famine, there was natural selection of those who possessed “thrifty” genes which conserved energy by storing them in the form of fat to be used in a famine situation later. With man’s exponential development of food industry, he had no use of these selected genes however was counterproductive due to excess storage of fat causing obesity.

These sorted fat is not inert. They are an active endocrine and metabolic organ which contribute to the metabolism in may ways mostly however ends up leading to severe obesity, with insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome (impaired glucose tolerance, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, atherosclerosis, dyslipidemia, fatty liver). This situation is morbid obesity.

In both western countries and eastern countries, even though the dietary patterns vary significantly, we see the obesity in a significant level. In west, with the spread of readily available high-caloric fast-foods containing high levels of carbohydrate, saturated fat and salt, metabolic diseases became increasingly prominent. With the addition of computers and sedentary lifestyle, obesity has become the major form of malnutrition.

In east and asia, due to cultural and agricultural impacts, the diets inherently consists of very high amounts of carbohydrates and further influenced by the high-caloric and high-carb, high-fat fast-food that came along with westernisation . This shift has contributed to high incidence of metabolic diseases in the east and asia with obesity.

How to measure the body fat?

Body fat cannot be measured directly. However, there are few ways which we can estimate the amount of body fat. Body Mass Index (BMI) is the best and widely accepted way to estimate the body fat content. Body Mass Index is a simple calculation using a person's height and weight. The formula is BMI = kg/m2 where kg is a person's weight in kilograms and m2 is their height in metres squared. Following table shows how the BMI can be used to measure the body fat content:

BMI Weight status

Below 18.5 Underweight

18.5-24.9 Normal

25.0-29.9 Overweight

30.0-34.9 Obese (Class I)

35.0-39.9 Obese (Class II)

40.0 < Extreme obesity (Class III)

There are few other factors to consider when BMI is used to determine the amount of body fat. Therefore, for a reliable assessment, ask your doctor if your BMI is a problem.

What health risks occur with obesity?

Living with excess weight has been shown to put your health at risk. The risk increases sharply as your obesity becomes more severe. Serious health problems may also result when dieting leads to “weight cycling” (the repeated loss and regain of body weight). You're more likely to develop a number of potentially serious obesity related health problems, including:


  • High blood pressure
  • Heart failure (Congestive cardiac failure)
  • Lungs failure (Cor pulmonale)
  • Varicose veins
  • Blood clots in the lungs (Pulmonary embolism)
  • Heart attacks (Coronary artery disease)


  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • High blood cholesterols and lipids (Dyslipidemia)
  • Male features in females (androgenicity)


  • Hyperuricemia and gout 
  • Immobility
  • Osteoarthritis (knees and hips) 
  • Low back pain
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome


  • Difficulty in breathing (Dyspnea)
  • Snoring and waking up breathless (Obstructive sleep apnea)
  • Being tired all the time (Hypoventilation syndrome)
  • Pickwickian syndrome 
  • Asthma


  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease 
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease 
  • Gallbladder stones (Cholelithiasis)
  • Hernia
  • colon cancer
  • rectal cancer 
  • oesophageal cancer
  • liver cancer
  • cancer in the gallbladder
  • pancreatic cancer


  • Urinary stress incontinence 
  • Obesity-related glomerulopathy 
  • End-stage renal disease Hypogonadism (male)
  • Cancer of the kidney
  • Cancer of the prostate


  • Stroke
  • Idiopathic intracranial hypertension
  • Meralgia paresthetica
  • Dementia
  • Psychologic
  • Depression and low self-esteem 
  • Body image disturbance
  • Social stigmatization

Skin problems

  • Stretch marks (Striae distensae)
  • Stasis pigmentation of legs Lymphedema
  • Inflammation and infection in the skin (Cellulitis)
  • Skin folds disease (Intertrigo)
  • Large painful pus discharging boils (Carbuncles)
  • Blackened skin around neck and armpits (Acanthosis nigricans)
  • skin tags (Acrochordon)
  • Recurrent pustules in buttocks and armpits (Hidradenitis suppurativa)


  • Not having periods in females (Amenorrhea)
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome,
  • Not being able to have children (infertility)
  • Not having regular periods or abnormal bleeding (menstrual disorders)
  • Breast and uterine cancer
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Cancer of the uterus
  • Cancer of the cervix
  • Cancer of the endometrium
  • Cancer of the ovaries
  • Cancer of the breast