Obesity, A Disease By Itself

Obese Indian Man

What is obesity?

Obesity is one of the major problems in the industrialized world. It is affecting all age groups and is responsible for many diseases and disorders like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis etc. Obesity is characterized by excess weight (fat) accumulated on one’s body.


How much is judged as excess weight?

A person whose body mass index (BMI) is more than 30 is considered obese. Body mass index is defined as the person’s body weight divided by the square of his or her height. Body mass index may be calculated using the formula below:

Click here to go to simple BMI calculator

Click here to go to BMI and waist to hip ratio calculator

Click here to go to ready BMI chart for Indians

Click here to go to ready BMI chart for Indian kids

What causes obesity?

A person's weight is determined by the balance between calorie intake and calorie expenditure . People gain weight if they consume more calories than they burn, the excess calories are stored by the body as fat. A person can lose weight if he (or she) consumes less calories than he burns, Therefore the most common causes of obesity are overeating and physical inactivity.

It looks as simple as that! Doesn’t it?

Nope! Weight gain or loss is not that simple! As we try to study why we become obese, the matter tends to become more and more complex. If it were that simple, we would not have spent billions of dollars on research for understanding and controlling obesity! There are many factors that contribute to a person’s weight gain (or loss). Genetics or heredity plays a very important role


If one or both parents are obese, the child is more likely to be obese. Hormones involved in fat regulation are also affected by genetics. Deficiency of the hormone leptin, for example, is one of the causes of obesity. Placenta and the adipocytes (fat cells) produce the hormone leptin. When the body stores too much fat in the fat cells, they secrete leptin in the circulation, which gives a signal to the brain to eat less thereby controlling weight gain or obesity. If there is a defect in this leptin signalling pathway, that is if either enough leptin is not produced or leptin is ineffective in signalling the brain to eat less obesity develops. Leptin replacement therapy could potentially be one future possibility to treat obesity.


Overeating is one of the major causes of weight gain. If the diet is high in fat or simple sugars, the effect of weight gain is multiplied. The reason for this is simply the high energy density (more calories packed in a small volume of a serving) of the high fat high sugar diet. Weight gain due to consumption of high fat high sugar diet has been validated by several epidemiological studies.

A diet high in simple sugars.

Simple sugars increase blood glucose levels, which in turn stimulate the pancreas to secrete insulin, and insulin promotes deposition of fat in fat cells thereby causing weight gain. (actually fat gain!) Some scientists believe that simple sugars (eatables made by adding table sugar, glucose, fructose, desserts, soft drinks, beer, liquor etc.) are rapidly absorbed into the blood stream (see glycemic index) than complex carbohydrates like bread, brown rice, grains, vegetables, raw fruits, etc. More sugar in blood has to be rapidly cleared by our body system to avoid hyperglycemia. This is done by insulin.

Therefore, more simple sugars in diet rapid rise in blood glucose more insulin secretion more deposition of glucose as fat in fat cells weight gain.

Frequency of eating.

Eating more frequently can help you lose fat! How does this happen?

We saw above that the diet high in simple sugars raises the rate of glucose pouring into the blood circulation. A diet large in serving size also has the same effect: fast rise in blood sugar requires fast rise in insulin levels causing conversion of excess blood sugar into fat and ultimately deposit in the fat cells. Instead, if the serving size is smaller, and the eating frequency higher, the overall effect is some reduction in total calories consumed per day without feeling hungry. This is validated in several studies. People eating small portions more frequently have stable blood sugar levels (and in turn stable insulin levels) and also they have lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

How is obesity treated?

If you want to lose fat by not using medicines and by the traditional methods, you have to start an exercise program suitable for you. You should also modify your diet. Visit the page:

How to burn fat permanently