‘Obesity’ is a term used signify excessive accumulation and deposition of fat in the body, which is atleast twenty percent over the optimum desired weight for one’s height. Measuring fat in humans requires special instruments and therefore, excess weight is usually defined by measuring the body mass index (BMI). BMI is calculated by measuring a person’s weight in kilograms and then dividing it by the person’s height in metres squared (kg/sq. m).An average BMI for an adult is within the range of 18. 5-24.9and in an overweight person it ranges between 25-29.9and in the obese it is over 30.

Obesity is either due to consumption of too much fatty food, alcoholic beverages, smoking too many cigarettes or living a sedentary lifestyle with lack of exercise. Familial and genetic predisposition plays a major role in weight gain. Other causes include disorder of thyroid, pituitary or adrenal gland, which by affecting the hormones, result in sudden excessive weight gain. Certain drugs and medications (like corticosteroids, steroidal contraceptives, antidepressants, sulphonylureas, valporoate, etc.) and stress can also result in obesity.

Excess of weight increases the mortality rate due to complications arising out of it. Due to excess deposition of lipids and fats in the blood vessels, they become clogged and narrow and thus result in ischaemic heart disease and angina. The joints, especially the weight bearing ones, get affected due to excess of weight gain resulting in degenerative arthritis. Thus, excess weight gain acts like a precursor to many dangerous illnesses like diabetes mellitus, coronary heart disease, angina, hypertension, arthritis, gout, gallstones, impotency, backache, breathlessness, stroke, hyperlipidaemias, cancers, (breast, endometrium, overian, gall bladder and colonic cancers), etc. and thus its treatment is of prime importance.

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