The healthcare community has defined obesity as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. The BMI is the ratio between the weight of a person (in kilograms) and the square of the height (in meters). There are many calculators online that can calculate the BMI using pounds and feet/inches. This is a very inexact way of classifying overweight people because there could be very muscular people that could be obese according to this definition. In addition, it may cause shorter people to be overrepresented in the obese population. In spite of this, the BMI provides an easy way of classifying people according to weight that can lead to meaningful research and can serve as an effective screening tool.
There are many dangers that originate from being obese. I will list here the five most relevant ones
1. Diabetes mellitus. Having excessive adipose tissue causes insulin resistance and some obese people may become diabetic because of this.
2. Hypertension. Obesity is associated with hormonal variations that may lead to salt and water retention and constriction of small arteries. These changes can elevate the blood pressure.
3. Sleep apnea. This condition is related to obesity. It causes the breathing to stop many times during the night causing problems with oxygenation and getting rid of carbon dioxide.
4. Osteoarthrosis. The extra weight that the obese person has to carry has an impact on the hip and knee joints. This may lead to incapacitating pain and joint replacement surgeries.
5. Cancer. Breast, colon, gallbladder and endometrial malignancies are more common in overweight individuals than in people with normal weight
Diabetes and hypertension are significant risk factors for coronary artery disease and stroke. Sleep apnea is directly related to hypertension. This means that obesity may impair a person’s health in multiple ways.
Marco A. Ramos MD