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Obesity is a leading preventable cause of death worldwide, with authorities viewing it as one of the most serious public health problems of the 21st century.
Obesity is defined as a chronic medical condition that occurs when an excess of body fat accumulates to the extent that a person becomes at risk of acute and chronic conditions. A person is considered obese when their body mass index (BMI) is over 30 kg/m2 and at this stage is potentially eligible for surgery.
In Australia, obesity is one of the biggest public health challenges facing the population. Greater than 60% of Australian adults, and almost a quarter of Australian children, are obese. Approximately 70% of obese adults suffer at least one health condition such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, osteoarthritis, certain types of cancers, type 2 diabetes, depression or impaired social functioning.
Food intake and exercise
One cause of obesity is an imbalance between what food you eat and how much movement you do.
Type of food
In our modern lives, there are more energy-dense foods available which are often higher in sugar and fat. These foods are often cheaper, easier to access and more convenient for people leading busy lives.
Appetite signals and hormones
Chemical sensors in our blood called hormones give us a signal when we’re hungry, so we eat, and when we’re full, so we stop. For people who are obese, these hormones don’t work as they should, meaning you have to eat more before you feel full. These hormones make it harder for you to lose weight and keep it off.
Your genes play a big role in whether you will develop obesity. Studies on twins who grew up in different homes found their genes had a bigger impact on whether they had a higher BMI. In this study, they found environmental factors had little impact.
Your cultural background
There are certain cultural backgrounds that are more likely to develop obesity than others. In Australia, 3 in 4 Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander adults are overweight or obese.
Use our online calculator to check your weight and height to determine your Body Mass Index (BMI). It’s a general measure that helps put you into a weight category: underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese.
Dieting, exercise, and medication have long been regarded as the conventional methods to achieve weight loss. Sometimes, these efforts are successful in the short term. However, for people who are morbidly obese, the results rarely last. For many, this can translate into what’s called the “yo-yo syndrome,” where patients continually gain and lose weight with the possibility of serious psychological and health consequences.
Recent research reveals that conventional methods of weight loss generally fail to produce permanent weight loss. Several studies have shown that patients on diets, exercise programs, or medication are able to lose approximately 10% of their body weight but tend to regain two-thirds of it within one year, and almost all of it within five years. Another study found that less than 5% of patients in weight loss programs were able to maintain their reduced weight after five years.
It is well known that obesity is often associated with reduced fertility. It has also been linked to the reduced the effectiveness of IVF, which can be both emotionally and financially draining. If a woman does fall pregnant in the setting of obesity there are strong associations with other comorbidities, including a higher risk of developing type II diabetes, heart disease, kidney failure, infections, and other health conditions. In the worst case scenario, these problems can increase the risk of birth problems or even miscarriage. If you are considering starting a family, it may be a good idea to do so after reaching your weight loss goals.