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What is Obesity?

Obesity has become a popular topic in the national conversation during recent years as an increasing percentage of people battle against it. The health costs of obesity are very high, making it important for affected individuals to identify the causes and seek effective solutions for the disorder.

The medical profession divides obesity into two classes: obesity and morbid obesity. The most common method of determining whether any particular individual is obese is with a measurement called the body mass index, or BMI. A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered healthy, while a BMI of 30 or more indicates obesity, and a BMI higher than 40 is the cutoff for morbid obesity.

It is estimated that about 36 percent of adults in the United States are obese and about 17 percent of children and teens. This is of concern because of the damage that obesity causes to one’s health and the cost in life satisfaction, productivity, and money that results.

The most common diseases that are related to obesity include:

– High blood pressure and heart disease. Obesity can affect the cardiovascular system in such a way that it increases the risk of strokes, heart attacks and kidney malfunction.

– Type 2 diabetes. In this type of diabetes, the body produces sufficient insulin but it is resisted by the tissues. Treating diabetes can be costly and difficult, but even modest weight loss can ameliorate or even eliminate the condition.

– Respiratory distress and sleep apnea. Excess weight can put pressure on the lungs and throat, making it more difficult to breathe. Stored fat in the tongue and throat can induce or worsen sleep apnea, which is associated with snoring, fatigue and heart disease.

– Osteoarthritis. Obesity puts added stress on all the joints of the body. This stress hastens the damage to the joint cartilage that is the cause of osteoarthritis pain.

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Many people are able to lower their weight with behavioral choices, like improving their eating habits and exercising more. Some people, however, are not able to effectively use these tools. The risks of obesity are so high that a doctor may suggest that these people explore surgical options to preserve their health.