HEALTH SERIES: OBESITY Pt 1: Facts, Types and Severity – Dr.Chin Akano


What do we understand by the word obesity?

From time to time people add extra pounds or kg in weight but does that mean they are obese? Not at all.

In actual fact obesity is a medical condition in which there is a heavy accumulation of fat in the body to such a level that it rapidly increases the risk of other diseases that can damage the health of that individual and reduce the person’s life expectancy.

Before i go any further, i will like to itemise a few salient facts about this disease for us to digest.

*On average, obesity reduces life expectancy by six to seven years: a BMI of 30–35 reduces life expectancy by two to four years,while severe obesity (BMI > 40) reduces life expectancy by 10 years. ( I will explain what BMI means in due course)

*Evidence to support the view that some obese people eat little yet gain weight due to a slow metabolism is limited; on average obese people have a greater energy expenditure than their thin counterparts due to the energy required to maintain an increased body mass.

* WHO estimated in 2005 that at least 400 million adults are obese.

* More women are obese than men.

* In 2008, 1.5 billion adults who were 20 years and older were found to be overweight.

*Nearly 43 million children under the age of five were overweight in 2010.

*Overweight and obesity are the fifth leading risk for global deaths.

*At least 2.8 million adults die each year as a result of being overweight or obese.

*In addition about 44% of all cases of diabetes, 23% of all cases ischaemic heart disease and between 7% and 41% of certain cancer cases are attributable to overweight and obesity.

* Obesity is preventable.

*Some experts believe obesity is responsible for more ill health than smoking.

*Even with the advancement of Medical care in the UK as many as 30,000 people die prematurely every year from obesity-related conditions

*In the United States obesity is estimated to cause an excess 111,909 to 365,000 deaths per year while 1 million (7.7%) of deaths in the European are attributed to excess weight.





There are two types of obesity. It is relevant to classify obesity into this two types because one type is more dangerous than the other.

Obesity is therefore classified into:

* Apple shaped obesity ( also known as central obesity)


*Pear shaped obesity


Apple shaped obesity is the type where the fat is concentrated on the stomach or around the mid-section of the body while in pear shaped obesity the fat is concentrated on the hips and thighs.

I like us all to know that the apple shaped obesity is the one more harmful to health.




If you are obese you are more likely to suffer from the following under listed diseases.



This list is by no means exhaustive but for want of space i decided to itemise only these ones:

* Heart attack

* Cancers eg breast,ovarian, liver, pancreas, gall bladder, stomach, cervical, endometrial, prostate, kidney and more.

* Strokes

* Migraines

* Angina ( a cause of chest pain and death)

* High cholesterol which can cause heart attack and stroke among others

* Heart failure

*Hypertension (high blood pressure)

* Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) : clot in deep veins usually in the calves, this can lead to sudden death if not diagnosed quickly and treated

* Pulmonary embolism (PE) blood clots in the lungs

*Diabetes mellitus ( diabetes)

* Gall stones

*Fatty liver disease

*Chronic kidney failure


* Stretch marks

* Acne

* Increased sweating

* Cellulitis : skin infection caused by bacteria

* Anxiety

* Depression

*Social stigmatization

* Body image problems

* Damage of self-esteem


*Multiple sclerosis (MS)

*Carpal tunnel syndrome

*Obstructive sleep apnoea and snoring


*Erectile dysfunction


* Low back pain

*Ostheoarthritis which is a highly disabling disease of the joints

* Poor mobility


* breathing difficulties

* Hypertension

* increased risk of fractures

* Diabetes

* Heart problems

* psychological problems

* premature death




* infertility

* menstrual disorders

* complications during pregnancy eg diabetes/hypertension in pregnancy

*birth defects

*baby (foetal) deaths in the womb


Part Two will follow on Wednesday. In subsequent series, we will be discussing how to diagnose Obesity, how to prevent it and how to treat it.


Thank you for reading.

Dr.Chin Akano

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