Obesity is a major public health problem both in the United States and in other industrialized countries. (See Obesity: Risks) Its prevalence is increasingly rapidly and represents a substantial source of present and future illness, death, and cost to the healthcare system. Just to put the issue into financial perspective, obesity is estimated to add approximately $200-300 billion in costs to the US healthcare system alone. These financial costs are in addition to the substantial amount of psychological turmoil and physical disability that obesity can bring about.
Classification of Obesity
Obesity is commonly classified using the following scale based on Body Mass Index (BMI): (For a detailed discussion of BMI, please see our BMI section.)
Body Mass Index
|18.5 – 24.9||Normal Weight|
|24.9 – 29.9||Overweight|
|30.0 – 34.9||Obese (Class 1)|
|35.0 – 39.9||Obese (Class 2)|
|> 40.0||Morbidly Obese|
Causes of Obesity
Obesity is a complex issue. One cannot simply tell an obese individual to lose weight and expect him to immediately realize the error of his ways, go on a diet, start exercising, and lose weight. On the contrary, obesity is the result of numerous genetic, psychological, physical, and lifestyle factors that must all be addressed to achieve substantial and sustainable weight loss.
Successful Weight Loss
Successful weight loss can only be achieved through a combination of nutritional adjustment, cardiovascular and resistance exercise, and lifestyle modification. (Please see our sections on Nutrition and Aerobic Exercise and Resistance Exercise for more information and recommendations to fit any individual’s lifestyle and fitness level.) Many products and programs are available to assist with weight loss and many of those can be utilized with success. Certain programs work better for certain individuals and finding the program that works best for you is a major step on the path to success.
Many individuals; however, do not achieve meaningful weight loss with lifestyle adjustment alone. In these situations, additional help is needed and exists in the form of medically assisted weight loss or even surgery. Please consult your primary care physician to further discuss these options.
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