Obesity causes a number of medical problems. There are other issues that aren’t caused directly by obesity, but the two often go hand-in-hand.

Obesity by itself doesn’t necessarily mean medical treatment is required – in particular, at low levels of overweight or obesity health risks may not be a major concern – but maintenance of a healthy body weight can make a great contribution to health and well-being.

The term “obesity” is used to describe a level of body fat that is higher than is healthy. Because fat is difficult to measure directly, we usually use the body mass index (BMI), or weight corrected for height, when discussing body weight. A normal BMI ranges from 18 to 25, with 25 to 30 considered overweight and over 30 considered obese. Obesity health risks start to increase when the BMI is below 18 or over 25 (with factors such as diabetes and ethnicity modifying these values).

Obesity problems that are strongly linked to BMI include type 2 (“adult onset”) diabetes; obstructive sleep apnoea; elevated blood pressure; joint problems such as knee arthritis; and decreased life expectancy for very high BMIs. There is also a (weaker) association with cancer, heart disease, and a number of other medical conditions. Interestingly, obesity is protective against some conditions such as tuberculosis affecting the lungs!

Problems such as altered body image, depression and social isolation can occur with obesity, although these problems can occur at any weight level. They may need to be addressed as part of an overall health maintenance program.

Social difficulties can include biased treatment by others, difficulty accessing products and services (eg. not finding clothing or furniture that fits comfortably), and potentially restrictions in occupations or activities that can be undertaken. Sometimes these issues need to be addressed outside the medical sphere, in particular if they occur in the workplace. Our approach is to recognise a person’s worth as an individual, regardless of external appearance; our mission is to help everyone maximise their own health potential, whatever that may be. If you find that your body weight is interfering with your own acceptance of yourself as an individual, please don’t hesitate to ask us for help.

Do you know your BMI ?

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