Types of Obesity and Prevention of Obesity (2024)

Case Studies

Obesity, characterized by an excess of fat cells, is a prevalent condition influenced by various factors such as family history, genetics, dietary habits, and activity levels.

Dec 29
Dr Disha Patel
Cardiac Anesthesiologist, Shalby Hospital, Ahmedabad
Types of Obesity and Prevention of Obesity

Typically, obesity meaning is defined by a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or higher in adults, severe obesity is recognized at a BMI of 40 or above. Childhood obesity is assessed using growth charts. Understanding the meaning of obesity involves recognizing the accumulation of excessive body mass. 

Prominent benchmarks like BMI help identify overweight and obesity, emphasizing the importance of monitoring and addressing these health concerns.


What is Obesity?

Obesity is a chronic health condition resulting from various factors that contribute to an excessive accumulation of body fat, leading to potential health issues. 

While body fat is not a disease, an excess can alter bodily functions, causing progressive changes with negative health effects over time. 

The encouraging aspect is that reducing excess body fat can mitigate health risks significantly. Implementing even minor weight changes can yield substantial health improvements. 

It's essential to recognize that effective weight loss methods vary among individuals, and sustaining weight loss is as vital as achieving it initially.


Types of Obesity

Healthcare providers categorize obesity into three classes based on Body Mass Index (BMI), which determines the severity of the condition:

Class I obesity: BMI 30 to <35 kg/m².

Class II obesity: BMI 35 to <40 kg/m².

Class III obesity: BMI 40+ kg/m², also known as morbid or severe obesity.


In addition to BMI classifications, obesity can be categorized based on fat distribution:

Peripheral obesity: Excessive fat in hips, thighs, and buttocks.

Central obesity: Excessive fat around the abdomen, increasing the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, and certain cancers.

Combination obesity: Accumulation in both peripheral and central regions.


Moreover, obesity is classified by its association with diseases:

Type 1 obesity: Caused by excessive calorie intake and inadequate physical activity.

Type 2 obesity: Resulting from conditions like hypothyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome, polycystic ovary syndrome, and insulinoma.


Finally, obesity types based on fat cell characteristics include:

Hypertrophic obesity: Increase in adipose cell size, prevalent in adults.

Hyperplastic obesity: Increase in the number of fat cells, predominant in children.


Causes of Obesity

Obesity results from an energy imbalance, where your body accumulates excess fat due to consuming more calories than needed. This imbalance increases the risk of obesity development. Multiple factors contribute to this caloric surplus, ranging from individual behaviors to societal structures.

1. Dietary Habits

  • Consumption of fast and convenience foods high in sugar and fat.
  • Foods lacking in fiber and nutrients lead to increased hunger.
  • Advertising promotes addictive eating patterns.

2. Psychological Factors

  • Boredom, loneliness, anxiety, and depression contribute to overeating.
  • Emotional eating, especially calorie-rich foods activates pleasure centers.

3. Hormonal Influence

  • Disruptions in hunger and satiety signals due to factors like stress and lack of sleep.
  • Certain medications, such as antidepressants and steroids, may contribute to weight gain.

4. Environmental and Lifestyle Factors

  • Sedentary behavior is influenced by screen culture and increased online activities.
  • Changes in the workforce, with more desk-bound jobs and longer working hours.
  • Fatigue from prolonged sitting leads to decreased motivation for physical activity.
  • Neighborhood design lacks accessible and safe spaces for physical activity.
  • Childhood trends include reduced outdoor play and increased screen time.
  • Limited access to physical activity for individuals with disabilities.

Understanding these diverse factors is crucial for developing effective strategies to prevent and address obesity, emphasizing the need for both individual and societal interventions.


Symptoms of Obesity

Obesity, characterized by excessive body fat, presents distinctive symptoms that impact individuals physically and mentally. There are certain health problems caused by obesity and certain medical conditions caused by obesity.

Common Adult Obesity Symptoms

  • Excess Body Fat: Concentrated around the waist, often indicative of weight-related issues.
  • Shortness of Breath: Difficulty breathing, particularly noticeable during physical exertion.
  • Increased Sweating: Altered perspiration patterns due to the body's struggle with excess weight.
  • Snoring: Linked to respiratory challenges associated with obesity.
  • Sleep Troubles: Disruptions in sleep patterns, affecting overall rest quality.
  • Skin Problems: Moisture-related issues within skin folds, a consequence of increased body mass.
  • Physical Limitations: Struggles with tasks previously manageable, hindering daily activities.
  • Fatigue: Ranging from mild to extreme, impacting energy levels and overall vitality.
  • Joint and Back Pain: Discomfort, particularly in weight-bearing areas, affecting musculoskeletal health.
  • Psychological Impact: Negative self-esteem, depression, and social isolation, emphasizing the mental toll.

Common Childhood Obesity Symptoms

  • Fatty Tissue Deposits: Notably in the breast area, indicating early signs of excess weight.
  • Stretch Marks: Common on hips and back, reflecting rapid weight gain during growth.
  • Acanthosis Nigricans: Dark, velvety skin around the neck and other regions, associated with insulin resistance.
  • Shortness of Breath: Evident during physical activity, impacting overall fitness levels.
  • Sleep Apnea: Disrupted breathing during sleep, affecting rest quality.
  • Gastrointestinal Issues: Constipation and reflux disease, linked to dietary habits.
  • Orthopedic Problems: Such as flat feet or dislocated hips, consequences of excess weight on developing bones.
  • Early/Delayed Puberty: Depending on biological sex, highlighting hormonal disruptions due to obesity.

Addressing these symptoms is crucial to preventing associated health problems, promoting early intervention, and improving overall well-being.


Diagnoses of Obesity

Diagnosing obesity involves a thorough evaluation by healthcare professionals to assess various aspects of an individual's health. The diagnostic process typically includes the following:

Health History Assessment

  • Reviewing weight history, past weight-loss efforts, and physical activity.
  • Discussing eating patterns, appetite control, and overall lifestyle habits.
  • Inquiring about existing medical conditions, medications, stress levels, and family health history.

Physical Examination

  • Measuring height, and vital signs (heart rate, blood pressure, temperature).
  • Listening to the heart and lungs, conducting an abdominal examination.
  • Calculating Body Mass Index (BMI) to gauge overall obesity risk.

Waist Size Measurement

  • Assessing waist circumference to identify abdominal fat and associated health risks.
  • Monitoring changes, with measurements is recommended at least once a year.

Evaluation for Other Health Problems

  • Investigating existing health issues and assessing potential concerns.
  • Screening for conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, thyroid disorders, liver problems, and diabetes.

Comprehensive Health Story

  • Gathering information on medical history, medications, weight fluctuations, and lifestyle factors.
  • Examining vital functions, including heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Conducting blood tests to check glucose and cholesterol levels, along with hormone screenings.

Regular monitoring and proactive intervention contribute to effective obesity management and overall well-being.


Treatment of Obesity

Now the question is – What is the best treatment for obesity? There are treatments available for obesity:

Dietary Changes

Customized dietary adjustments are pivotal, emphasizing portion control, snack management, and the incorporation of plant-based nutrition. Recognizing the diversity of effective dietary strategies, the approach is individualized to suit unique needs.

Increased Activity

Promoting regular physical activity is central to the treatment plan, with an emphasis on achievable goals. Exercise is not confined to traditional gym settings, encouraging accessible activities like walking. The recommended guideline is 30 minutes of moderate-paced walking five days a week.

Behavioral Therapies

Integration of counseling, support groups, and cognitive behavioral therapy addresses emotional and psychological factors influencing eating habits. Human support is recognized as crucial alongside practical interventions to foster positive changes.


Consideration of medications complements other treatments, with FDA-approved drugs like appetite suppressants and fat absorption inhibitors playing a role. Medications are viewed as part of a comprehensive strategy rather than standalone solutions.

Weight Loss Surgery

Reserved for individuals with class III obesity, surgical options include gastric sleeve, gastric band, gastric bypass, and duodenal switch. Surgery alters digestive processes, limiting calorie intake, and affecting metabolism.

Comprehensive Health Profile

Continuous assessment of an individual's health story and response to interventions guides ongoing adjustments. The recognition that everyone responds differently underscores the effectiveness of team-based programs with frequent, personalized communication.

Monitoring Health Risks

Regular monitoring of BMI, waist circumference, and other health indicators is emphasized. Proactive management of associated health problems, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, is crucial. Addressing obesity-related symptoms and complications is given utmost importance.

Through these treatments, healthcare providers offer effective and sustained obesity treatment. Regular monitoring and personalized adjustments ultimately contribute to long-term weight management and overall health improvement.


Prevention of Obesity

There may be 10 ways to control obesity and majorly to prevent obesity following measures to be taken:

Early Recognition: Identify and address weight gain patterns promptly, particularly if there's a family history of obesity.

Nutritious Choices: Swap high-calorie snacks and sugary drinks with healthier alternatives to regulate calorie consumption.

Physical Activity Routine: Integrate enjoyable activities such as walking, hiking, or using exercise equipment to burn additional calories.

Healthy Eating Habits: Keep your home stocked with wholesome foods, reserving indulgent treats for special occasions when dining out.

Holistic Well-Being: Minimize screen time, embrace outdoor activities, manage stress, and ensure sufficient sleep for a balanced hormonal environment.

Positive Lifestyle Shifts: Concentrate on fostering positive habits and engaging in healthy activities, emphasizing overall well-being beyond just weight considerations.

Being overweight increases the chance of facing health issues, but it doesn't mean you already have them or can't improve. 

Your doctor will advise losing weight to lower these risks. It's not easy, but it's possible and worth it for your health.


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1. What is childhood obesity?

Childhood obesity is a health condition characterized by excess body fat accumulation in children.

2. What are the causes of childhood obesity?

Childhood obesity is typically caused by unhealthy dietary patterns, and lack of physical activity.


3. How to know if I'm fat?

You can know if you’re fat by assessing your body mass index (BMI), a measure based on your weight and height. A BMI of 25 or higher indicates overweight status.


4. What are the first signs of getting fat?

Early signs of weight gain may include changes in clothing fit, increased difficulty in physical activities, and a noticeable alteration in body shape.


5. How to lose weight?

Losing weight usually involves adopting a healthy and balanced diet, engaging in regular physical activity, and eliminating a sedentary lifestyle.