Obesity Obesity
  • What is Obesity?
  • What are the causes of obesity?
  • What are the symptoms of obesity?
  • How is obesity treated?
  • What are the complications and obesity-related diseases?

What is Obesity?

Obesity is defined as having an excessive amount of body fat. It is a complex disease that spans beyond being of cosmetic concern. Obesity is a medical problem as it increases our risk of health problems and other diseases. Common examples include diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and high blood pressure.

There are many reasons why some individuals are unable to avoid obesity. This is usually a result of a combination of hereditary factors, environment, dietary habits and activity levels. Particularly in Asia, obesity rates are rapidly increasing.

Fortunately, modest weight loss can greatly improve, or even prevent, obesity-linked health problems. Lifestyle adjustments, such as adopting a healthy diet and exercising more can result in weight loss. Prescription medication and weight-loss procedures can also be considered once clinically assessed to be beneficial.


What are the causes of obesity?

Genetic, metabolic, behavioural and hormonal factors can affect ones’ body weight. However, obesity is the result of consuming more calories than what the body uses during the course of daily activities and exercise. When this happens, the excess calories are stored as fat in the body.


What are the symptoms of obesity?

In Asia, obesity is typically diagnosed as having a body mass index (BMI) of 27.5, or higher. BMI is calculated by dividing one’s weight in kilograms by height in metres squared.

  • BMI
  • Below 18.5
  • 18.5 – 22.9
  • 23 – 27.4
  • Above 27.4

In most cases, BMI is a reasonable estimate of body fat. However, BMI does not directly measure body fat. In certain instances, such as those who have more muscular physiques, have a BMI measurement classified as obese even though they do not have excess body fat.


How is obesity treated?

The aim of obesity treatments is to achieve, and maintain, a healthy weight. This enhances one’s health and reduces the risk of developing obesity-linked complications.

Conservative treatments include working with a team of health professionals consisting of a dietitian, obesity specialist, and behavioural counsellor to help patients identify their problem areas and make the necessary lifestyle changes.

The first phase of treatment has the goal of achieving modest weight loss of 5 - 10% of one’s total body weight. Someone who weighs 100kg would therefore need to lose between 5 – 10kg. The greater the weight loss, the better the health benefits.

Any weight-loss program will involve adjustments to eating habits and physical activity levels. The choice of treatment will depend on the degree of obesity, overall health and willingness to begin and continue the weight-loss journey.


What are the complications and obesity-related diseases?

Patients suffering from obesity can develop complications such as:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Digestive problems
  • Cancer
  • Osteoarthritis
  • More severe COVID-19 symptoms, if infected
  • Infertility in females and erectile dysfunction in males.