Overweight refers to an excess amount of body weight that comes from muscles, bone, fat and water while obesity refers to an excess amount of body fat.
Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that obesity has nearly doubled since 1980 around the globe. Approximately 65 percent of the world’s population is living in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight. As of 2013, 42 million children under the age of 5 were overweight. WHO research also shows that overweight and obesity are on the rise in low- and middle-income countries. The rate of increase in childhood obesity is 30 percent higher in developing countries with emerging economies as compared to developed countries.
The most common tool used to estimate overweight and obesity is the Body Mass Index (BMI). The BMI is a useful tool to correlate the amount of fat in a person’s body based on their height and weight.
According to the WHO, a person with a BMI of 30 or more is considered to be obese while a person with a BMI of equal to or more than 25 is considered to be overweight.
The primary cause of obesity and overweight is an energy imbalance. When people eat and drink more than they burn, their energy balance tilts toward weight gain, overweight and obesity. Other factors that may have an impact on a person’s weight include genes, eating habits, how and where one’ lives, lifestyle and habits, income levels and attitudes and emotions.
Since there is no single cause of weight gain and obesity, there is no single treatment approach or it either. Most people benefit from a mix of diet, exercise, sometimes weight loss drugs, behavioural treatment and in severe cases, weight-loss surgery.
Being overweight or obese is associated with long-term complications including hypertension, diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, respiratory problems, dyslipidemia and endometrial, breast, prostate and colon cancers.
Research has confirmed that physical activity can play an important role in reducing a person’s chance of getting heart disease, stroke, diabetes, certain cancers and other conditions. Health guidelines also recommend that healthy adults should engage in aerobic activity of moderate intensity for at least 150 minutes a week or vigorous intensity for 75 minutes a week. It is also recommended that people engage in activities that strengthen their muscles at least twice a week.