The World Health Organization defines obesity as a condition whose excessive fat accumulation has negative effects on an individual's health. A person can be defined as obese when the body weight is 60% greater than the ideal weight. Indeed, we speak of non-surgical obesity when the Body Mass Index (BMI) is in-between 30 and 35 while we speak of surgical obesity when the BMI >40 Kg/m² or between 35 and 40 Kg/m² in the presence of one or more diseases (metabolic diseases, cardio-respiratory diseases, serious joint diseases, serious psychological problems, and so on).
Body fat distribution patterns
Location: Upper body
Visceral fat (Active fat)
Waist ( W ) / Hip ( H ) > 0,85
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Insulin resistance
Location: the gluteo-femoral area (buttocks and hips)
Waist ( W ) / Hip ( H ) > 0,8
- Varicose veins
- Foot deformity
Epidemiology and causes of obesity
Obesity is a considerably increasing phenomenon: Italy has had a 25% increase since 1994: 6 million Italians are obese.
Obesity is defined as a multifactorial condition, or rather, that it has many triggers.
Generally speaking, obesity occurs when, over a long period of time, the amount of calories introduced through food exceeds the daily energy expenditure. In this case, the excessive energy intake is stored in the form of fat.
Tra le principali cause dell'obesità sono riconosciuti:
- psychological factors: incorrect eating habits and/or eating behavior disorders, very often influenced by stress and emotional disorders;
- social and environmental factors: excessive consumption of foods that are rich in fat and nutritionally poor (junk food), associated with reduced physical activity and high inactivity;
- endocrinological and metabolic factors: rare conditions exist whose endocrinological and metabolic imbalances can affect body weight gain;
- genetic factors: the issue is being investigated as to whether genetics influences a person's ability to lose weight or not as well as to keep it low. To date, however, rare cases have highlighted as much.
In this specific case, other factors may influence the onset of the obesity condition (e.g. pharmacological therapies, neurological disorders, and so on.). To this end, we recommend that you always consult your specialist for advice, as this will help you to understand your health better.
Obesity-related health risks.
Obesity shouldn't be viewed as a mere aesthetic condition inasmuch as it also involves -above all else- a significant risk factor for the onset of serious diseases. Obesity shortens an individual's life expectancy by about 10 years.
About 8% of all causes of death are related to obesity, due to the fact that weight gain leads to a number of life-threatening diseases and pathological conditions.
These include, for example, diabetes mellitus types 2, high blood pressure, heart attack, respiratory failure, high cholesterol, vascular diseases, joint diseases, stroke, liver problems and kidney failure, problems related to the sexual sphere and very severe movement restrictions. In addition, international literature confirms the correlation between obesity and cancer (e.g. pancreatic cancer, colon and breast cancer). It goes without saying that the BMI is not the only parameter to consider when forecasting the risk of neoplasms: the patient must always be evaluated within the context of his/her clinical, family and genetic history.
In any case, it is clear that reducing body weight is essential to prevent countless obesity-related diseases.
To make the measure long-term effective following occasional slimming diets isn't enough; the best thing, instead, is taking as decisive actions as possible.
Following a balanced diet and exercising regularly are essential for keeping BMI below a value of 25, e.g. within the normal weight range; this contributes to reducing the several diseases simultaneously present (comorbidity).
Calculating BMI is simple. Just calculate the ratio between body weight (in kg) and height (in meters) to the second power.BMI CALCULATION
For example, someone who weighs 130 kg and is 1,80 m. tall will have BMI equal to 40 (130/1,80^2 = 40)
Obesity can be of two types:
- android, where the fat accumulates at visceral-abdominal level. It is associated with different metabolical complications and it has an “apple shaped” form;
- gynoid, where the adipose tissue concentrates on the hips and buttocks area. It has a “pear-shaped” form.