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Natural Health Glossary
Medical Terms, Therapies, Accreditation

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Obese (obesity)
Photo: Obese Abnormal body weight, usually defined as more than 20 percent (or more) extra body adipose tissue (fat) above average for age, height, sex, and bone structure.

Fat works against the action of insulin. Extra body fat is thought to be a risk factor for diabetes.

Obesity may be defined according to BMI (Body Mass Index). The BMI of a person is their weight in kilograms divided by the square of their height in meters). Average BMI is between 20 and 30. Obesity is usually defined to be a BMI of 30 or more.

Obesity increases the likelihood of various diseases, particularly heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, certain types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.

Obesity is most commonly caused by a combination of excessive food energy intake, lack of physical activity, and genetic susceptibility, although a few cases are caused primarily by genes, endocrine disorders, medications or psychiatric illness. Evidence to support the view that some obese people eat little yet gain weight due to a slow metabolism is limited; on average obese people have a greater energy expenditure than their thin counterparts due to the energy required to maintain an increased body mass.

Dieting and physical exercise are the mainstays of treatment for obesity. Diet quality can be improved by reducing the consumption of energy-dense foods such as those high in fat and sugars, and by increasing the intake of dietary fiber.

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