It’s time to weigh in on what “Obesity” really means. It’s more than just a few extra pounds. By definition, it is the excess fat that the body has accumulated and is considered harmful. Though this added fat is gained through an inactive lifestyle, the fat itself is not inactive. We now know that the fat cells (Adipose tissue) are active cells that not only provide cushion between various organs, but also secrete hormones that are harmful to many parts of the body.
When this type of fat cell increases in size and number, it leads to “sick fat” or Adiposopathy. Due to the active, excessive sick fat accumulation and its effects on almost all organs in the body, Obesity is now recognized as a preventable disease by all major health authorities. In fact, all insurance companies have agreed to pay for the management of Obesity. This is why many workplaces require BMI and other Lipid values to be checked before starting employment. In 2013, the American Medical Association declared Obesity a chronic disease state.
In the absence of tools to measure fat directly, body fat is indirectly calculated from a person’s height and weight. For all adults and children above two years of age, the BMI (body mass index) is an acceptable standard of measuring body fat. A BMI of 30 and above is defined as Obesity. In children two to 20 years of age, BMI is measured and then charted on standardized graphs to determine the percentile. The 95th percentile and above is defined as Obesity in children for their age and sex. This is necessary as children’s height and weight change as they grow.
Obesity is affecting our entire nation. The number of adults with Obesity in the U.S. has now reached 78 million, and most states have reported at least 20% or higher rates of Obesity. These numbers are increasing due to multiple factors. About one third of the children in the U.S. today are either overweight or obese. With one obese parent, a child’s risk of Obesity increases three times and with both parents, it increases by 15 times. The majority of adolescents with Obesity will remain obese as adults, without any interventions.
The factors that cause Obesity start right from the womb and, without intervention, can continue until the tomb. Increased maternal weight gain during pregnancy, chromosomal and genetic factors, followed by other prenatal metabolic diseases play a role. Finally, environmental factors, such as drinks loaded with excess sugar and a sedentary lifestyle that includes sitting at a desk and watching TV for many hours each day, all contribute to Obesity.
The burden of the disease of Obesity is increasing in terms of social, financial and disability-related costs reaching up to $2 billion per year. Obesity affects more than one third of U.S. adults, and it’s the main cause of many medical conditions, including Type II diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and certain types of cancer. In total, there are nearly 50 conditions that are associated with Obesity.
If you or your loved ones are affected by Obesity, please join Dr. Mantha at a free community seminar, “The Lowdown on Diet, Part 2” on Thursday, January 12th from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Casa Colina Hospital and Centers for Healthcare, William W. Norin Education Center in the Tamkin Room (Building 1D), 255 East Bonita Avenue (at Garey) in Pomona. Please call 1-866/724-4132 to reserve your space today.
Usha Mantha, M.D., FAFFP, MRCOG, Board-Certified in Obesity Medicine, Program Medical Director of Casa Colina Medical Weight Loss & Wellness Program