Facts About Obesity

What is overweight?

Overweight is defined as being too heavy for one’s height. It is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 25 up to 30.  Body weight comes from fat, muscle, bone, and body water. Overweight does not always mean over fat.

What is obesity?

Obesity results from the excessive accumulation of fat that exceeds the body's skeletal and physical standards. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an increase in 20 percent or more above your ideal body weight is the point at which excess weight becomes a health risk. A person is considered obese if he or she has a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater.

What is morbid obesity?

"Morbid," in medical terms, means causing disease or injury. Morbid obesity is a serious disease process in which the accumulation of fatty tissue on the body becomes excessive and interferes with or injures the other bodily organs. This can cause serious and life-threatening health problems, which are known as co-morbidities. About 3 percent of the population of the United States is morbidly obese.

Causes of obesity

In scientific terms, obesity occurs when a person consumes more calories than he or she burns. What causes this imbalance between calories in and calories out may differ from one person to another. Genetic, environmental, psychological, and other factors may all play a part. Many scientific studies have established a connection between genetics and body weight. Children adopted at birth show no connection of their body weight to the body weight of their adoptive parents, the people who taught them how and what to eat. They show an 80 percent correlation with the body weight of their genetic parents, whom they have never met.

Genes do not destine people to a lifetime of obesity, however. Environment also strongly influences obesity. This includes lifestyle behaviors, such as what a person eats and his or her level of physical activity. Americans tend to eat high-fat foods, and put taste and convenience ahead of nutrition. Also, most Americans do not get enough physical activity.