Obesity means having too much body fat. It is not the same as being overweight, which means weighing too much. A person may be overweight from extra muscle or water, as well as from having too much fat.
Both terms mean that a person’s weight is higher than what is thought to be healthy for his/her height.
The fundamental cause of obesity and overweight is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended.
Obesity can be caused by:
Body mass index (BMI) is a simple index of weight-for-height that is commonly used to classify overweight and obesity in adults. It is defined as a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of his height in meters (kg/m2).
For children, age needs to be considered when defining overweight and obesity, for adults, WHO defines overweight and obesity as follows:
Raised BMI is a major risk factor for noncommunicable diseases such as:
Preventing Obesity in Infants
The longer babies are breastfed, the less likely they are to become overweight as they grow older. Breastfed babies are 15-25% less likely to become overweight. For those who are breastfed for six months or longer, the likelihood is 20- 40% less.
Preventing Obesity in Children and Adolescents
Young people generally become overweight or obese because they don’t get enough physical activity in combination with poor eating habits. Genetics and lifestyle also contribute to a child’s weight status.
There are a number of steps you can take to help prevent overweight and obesity during childhood and adolescence:
Preventing Obesity in Adults
Many of the strategies that produce successful weight loss and maintenance will help prevent obesity. Improving your eating habits and increasing physical activity play a vital role in preventing obesity. Things you can do include:
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