Diet, Obesity and Weight Management Information

Part 1 of 9 – What is Obesity?

The definition of obesity varies depending on what one reads, but in general, it is a chronic condition defined by an excess amount body fat. You need a certain amount of body fat for storing energy, heat insulation, shock absorption, and other functions. The normal amount of body fat (expressed as percentage of body fat) is between 25-30% in women and 18-23% in men. Women with over 30% body fat and men with over 25% body fat are considered obese.

Is obesity a major problem?

Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. Nearly one in three Americans are considered ‘obese’. Obesity is also increasing rapidly throughout the world, and the incidence of obesity has nearly doubled form 1991 to 1998.

What are some of the dangers of being obese?

Obesity is not just a cosmetic consideration; it is a dire health dilemma directly In the United States, More than 300,000 patient deaths are directly related to obesity, 80% of these deaths are in patients with a BMI or Body Mass Index, over 30%. For most obese people, they are putting themselves at risk for suffering MAJOR chronic disease, such as:

– Insulin Resistance – (Pre-diabetes). Insulin is necessary for the transport of blood glucose (sugar) into the cells of muscle and fat, (which is then used for energy). By sending glucose into cells, insulin keeps the blood glucose levels in the normal range. Insulin resistance (IR) occurs when themoving of insulin in directing glucose (sugar) into cells is diminished. Fat cells are more insulin resistant than muscle cells; Obesity is known to be the major cause of IR. The pancreas initially responds to IR by producing more insulin. As long as the pancreas can produce enough insulin to overcome this resistance, blood glucose levels remain normal. This IR state (characterized by normal blood glucose levels and high insulin levels) can last years. Once the pancreas ‘burns out’ and can’t keep up with producing higher levels of insulin, blood glucose levels begin to rise, resulting in type 2 diabetes, thus IR is a pre-diabetes condition. In fact scientists now believe that the atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) associated with diabetes likely develops during this IR period.

– Type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes. The longer you are obese and depending on how obese you are determines the degree of risk you have of delevoping Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is associated with central obesity; a person with central obesity has excess fat around his/her waist, so that the body is shaped like an apple.

– High blood pressure (hypertension). Hypertension is common among obese adults. It has now been shown in studies that overweight women are more likely to suffer from the effects of hypertension than overweight men. The risk of developing high blood pressure is also higher in obese people who are distribution mainly in hips and thighs).

– High cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia)

– Stroke (cerebrovascular accident or CVA)

– Heart attack. The Nurses Health Studyfound that the risk of developing coronary artery disease increased 3 to 4 times in women who had a BMI greater than 29. Findings from these same studies have found that for every one kilogram (2.2 pounds) increase in body weight, the risk of death from coronary artery disease increased by one percent. You should know that if you are obese and have already had one heart attack, obesity is associated with an increased likelihood of a second heart attack.

– Congestive heart failure

– Cancer. The jury is still out on this one, but, some evidence already suggests a strong link between obesity andcancer of the colon in men and women, cancer of the rectum and prostate in men, and cancer of the gallbladder and uterus in women. Another type of cancer associated with obesity is breast cancer, particularly in postmenopausal women. Fat tissue is important in the production of estrogen, and prolonged exposure to high levels of estrogen increases the risk of breast cancer.

– Gallstones

– Gout and gouty arthritis

– Degenerative Arthihritis of the knees, hips, and the lower back

– Sleep apnea

– Obesity, red face, difficulty breathing and drowsiness – Pickwickian Syndrome

Learn more by visiting

Michelle Jensen-Brandt, Ph.D., is a medical consultant and writer, living in Riverside, CA. and is also a staff writer and contributor to Read more from of their articles by visiting