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What is Obesity?
Obesity is a disease characterized by excessive body fat. People who are medically obese usually are affected by behavior, genetic and environmental factors that are difficult to control with dieting. Obesity increases the likelihood of certain diseases and other related health problems. Obesity is a serious health epidemic that affects one in four Americans. It is estimated that more than 120 million Americans are obese. 
Stages of overweight are medically defined by body mass index (BMI). An individual with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 is clinically classified as overweight. A BMI of 30 or more is classified as obese.
BMI is a number calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by his or her height in meters squared. BMI is used in determining obesity. 


What causes obesity?

Obesity is due to an individual taking in more calories than they burn over an extended period of time. These “extra” calories are stored as fat. Although there are several factors that can lead to this energy imbalance in obese individuals, the main contributors are :

In today’s fast-paced environment, it is easy to adopt unhealthy behaviors. Behavior, in the case of obesity, relates to food choices, amount of physical activity you get and the effort to maintain your health. Based on food choices, many people now select diets that are calorie-rich, but nutrient-poor. This behavioral problem also relates to the increase in portion sizes at home and when dining out.

Environment plays a key role in shaping an individual’s habits and lifestyle. There are many environmental influences that can impact your health decisions. Today’s society has developed a more sedentary lifestyle. Walking has been replaced by driving cars, basic physical activity has been replaced by technology and nutrition has been overcome by convenience foods.

Science shows that genetics play a role in obesity. Genes can cause certain disorders which result in obesity. However, not all individuals who are predisposed to obesity become obese. Research is currently underway to determine which genes contribute most to obesity.


What are the social effects of obesity?

Individuals affected by obesity often face obstacles far beyond health risks. Emotional suffering may be one of the most painful parts of obesity. Society often emphasizes the importance of physical appearance. As a result, people who are obese often face prejudice or discrimination in the job market, at school and in social situations.


Effects at Work

Due to the negative stigma associated with obesity, obese employees are often viewed as less competent, lazy and lacking in self-discipline by their coworkers and employers. Often times, discriminatory attitudes can negatively impact wages, promotions and employment status for obese employees. Finding a job can also be a difficult task for an obese individual. Studies show that obese applicants are less likely to be hired than thinner applicants, despite having identical job qualifications. Recently, the frequency of legal cases involving the firing of obese employees because of their weight, even though they are able to perform their job duties, has also increased.


Effects at School

Educational settings also provide the possibility for discriminatory situations. Obese children face numerous obstacles, ranging from harassment, teasing and rejection from peers, to biased attitudes from teachers. At a young age, children are exposed to obesity’s negative stigma. Obese children are sometimes characterized as being unhappy, lazy, and not having many friends.


Healthcare Settings

Negative attitudes about obese patients also exist in the healthcare setting. Obese patients are often reluctant to seek medical care, may be more likely to delay important preventative healthcare services and more frequently cancel medical appointments. Delaying medical attention can lead to delayed discovery or treatment of co morbid conditions, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, while becoming more physically damaging. The consequences of this discrimination can seriously impact an individual’s quality of life.


What treatments are available for obesity?

Obesity treatment strategies vary from person to person. Beginning treatment early is an essential part of success, and it is important to talk with your physician before beginning any weight-loss program. There are several methods for treating obesity, such as behavior modification, physical activity, non clinical weight management programs, medically managed weight-loss and surgical treatment.


Behavior Modification

Behavior plays a significant role in obesity. Modifying behaviors that have contributed to developing obesity is one way to treat the disease either alone or in conjunction with other treatments: changing eating habits, increasing physical activity, becoming educated about the body and how to nourish it appropriately, engaging in a support group.


Physical Activity

Increasing or initiating a physical activity program is an important aspect in managing obesity. Today’s society has developed a very sedentary lifestyle and routine physical activity can greatly impact your health. Set realistic goals and make sure to consult with your physician before initiating any exercise program.


Non Clinical Weight Management Programs

Participating in non clinical programs is another form of treatment for obesity. Some programs may be commercially operated, such as a privately owned weight-loss chain. Counselors, books, Web sites or support groups are all ways you can be involved in a non clinical weight-loss program.


Medically Managed Weight-Loss

Medically managed weight-loss programs provide treatment in a clinical setting with a licensed healthcare professional, such as a medical doctor, nurse, registered dietitian and/or psychologist. These programs typically offer services such as prescription of weight-loss medications, nutrition education, physical activity instruction and behavioral therapy.


Surgical Treatment

Surgical treatment of obesity is an option for those who are classified as morbidly obese. Morbid obesity is defined as a patient having a BMI of 40 or greater, or weighing more than 30 kg over their ideal body weight. In addition, a patient with a BMI of 35 or greater with one or more obesity-related diseases is also classified as morbidly obese. After weight-loss surgery, individuals must still modify their lifestyle habits, adjust their diet and increase their physical activity.
There are a few different types of bariatric surgery or weight-loss surgery treatment options, such as Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding, Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy, Roux-En-Y Gastric Bypass and Biliopancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch or Scopinaro procedure.

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