About Obesity
Understanding obesity UNDERSTANDING OBESITY

Obesity is a disease characterized by excessive body fat. People who are medically obese usually are affected by behavior, genetic and environmental factors that are difficult to control with dieting. Obesity increases the likelihood of certain diseases and other related health problems.

Who is affected?

Obesity is a serious world wide health epidemic that affects one in four
Americans. This phenomenon is global and about 30 million Indians are obese. It is predicted to double in the next 5 years.
What is the difference between overweight and obese?

Stages of overweight are medically defined by body mass index (BMI). An individual with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 is clinically classified as overweight. A BMI of 30 or more is classified as obese.

Overweight individuals are also at risk for developing health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, certain types of cancer, gout (joint pain caused by excess uric acid) and gallbladder disease. Being overweight can also cause problems such as sleep apnea (interrupted breathing during sleep) and osteoarthritis (wearing away of the joints).

Weight-loss can help improve the harmful effects of being overweight. However, many overweight people have difficulty reaching their healthy body weight.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

BMI is a number calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by his or her height in meters squared. BMI is used in determining obesity.

Obesity is most commonly calculated using BMI. An adult with a BMI of 30 or greater is clinically obese. To determine your BMI, please click here

BMI is not used to determine a person’s actual percentage of body fat, but it is a good indicator to categorize weight in terms of what is healthy and unhealthy.

What are the health risks associated with obesity?

There are more than 30 medical conditions that are associated with obesity. Individuals who are obese are at risk of developing one or more of these serious medical conditions, causing poor health or, in severe cases, early death. In fact, more than 112,000 annual deaths in the U.S.A are attributable to obesity. The most prevalent obesity-related diseases include:
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
  • Some cancers

What causes obesity?

Obesity is due to an individual taking in more calories than they burn over an extended period of time. These “extra” calories are stored as fat. Although there are several factors that can lead to this energy imbalance in obese individuals, the main contributors are behavior, environment and genetics.


In today’s fast-paced environment, it is easy to adopt unhealthy behaviors. Behavior, in the case of obesity, relates to food choices, amount of physical activity you get and the effort to maintain your health. Based on food choices, many people now select diets that are calorie-rich, but nutrient-poor. This behavioral problem also relates to the increase in meal quantity at home and when dining out.


Environment plays a key role in shaping an individual’s habits and lifestyle. There are many environmental influences that can impact your health decisions. Today’s society has developed a more sedentary lifestyle. Walking has been replaced by driving cars, basic physical activity has been replaced by technology and nutrition has been overcome by fast foods.


Science shows that genetics play a role in obesity. Genes can cause certain disorders which result in obesity. However, not all individuals who are predisposed to obesity become obese. Research is currently underway to determine which genes contribute most to obesity.

What are the social effects of obesity?

Individuals affected by obesity often face obstacles far beyond health risks. Emotional suffering may be one of the most painful parts of obesity. Society often emphasizes the importance of physical appearance. As a result, people who are obese often face prejudice or discrimination in the job market, at school and in social situations.

Effects at Work

Due to the negative stigma associated with obesity, obese employees are often viewed as less competent, lazy and lacking in self-discipline by their co-workers and employers. Often times, discriminatory attitudes can negatively impact salary, promotions and employment status for obese employees.

Finding a job can also be a difficult task for an obese individual. Studies show that obese applicants are less likely to be hired than thinner applicants, despite having identical job qualifications.

Effects at School

Educational settings also provide the possibility for discriminatory situations. Obese children face numerous obstacles, ranging from harassment, teasing and rejection from peers, to biased attitudes from teachers.

At a young age, children are exposed to obesity’s negative stigma. Obese children are sometimes characterized as being unhappy, lazy, mean and not having many friends.

In Healthcare Settings

Negative attitudes about obese patients also exist in the healthcare setting. Obese patients are often reluctant to seek medical care, may be more likely to delay important preventative healthcare services and more frequently cancel medical appointments. Delaying medical attention can lead to delayed discovery or treatment of co-morbid conditions, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, while becoming more physically damaging.

The consequences of this discrimination can seriously impact an individual’s quality of life and only further intensify the negative stigma associated with obesity.

What treatments are available for obesity?

Obesity treatment strategies vary from person to person. Beginning treatment early is an essential part of success, and it is important to talk with your physician before beginning any weight-loss program. There are several methods for treating obesity, such as behavior modification, physical activity, non clinical weight management programs, medically managed weight-loss and surgical treatment.

Behavior Modification

Behavior plays a significant role in obesity. Modifying behaviors that have contributed to developing obesity is one way to treat the disease either alone or in conjunction with other treatments. A few suggested behavior modifiers include: changing eating habits, increasing physical activity, becoming educated about the body and how to nourish it appropriately, engaging in a support group or extracurricular activity and setting realistic weight management goals.

Physical Activity

Increasing or initiating a physical activity program is an important aspect in managing obesity. Today’s society has developed a very sedentary lifestyle and routine physical activity can greatly impact your health. Set realistic goals and make sure to consult with your doctor before initiating any exercise program.

Medically Managed Weight-Loss

Medically managed weight-loss programs provide treatment in a clinical setting with a licensed healthcare professional, such as a medical doctor, registered dietitian and/or psychologist. These programs typically offer services such as prescription of weight-loss medications, nutrition education, physical activity instruction and behavioral therapy.

Surgical Treatment

Surgical treatment of obesity is an option for those who are classified as morbidly obese. Morbid obesity is defined as a patient having a BMI of 40 or greater, or weighing more than 40 kilograms over their ideal body weight. In addition, a patient with a BMI of 35 or greater with one or more obesity-related diseases is also classified as morbidly obese.

There are a few different types of bariatric surgery or weight-loss surgery treatment options, such as Roux-En-Y Gastric Bypass, Gastric Sleeve resection and Adjustable Gastric Banding.

What can you do to learn more about obesity?

The OBESITY FOUNDATION INDIA (OFI), a non profit organization, offers those affected by obesity many valuable resources to begin educating themselves about the disease and advocating for access to safe and effective treatment. From tips to about weight loss to, the most current information on obesity and its treatments, the OFI provides individuals with the tools needed to take a proactive approach in the fight against obesity.
For more information, please contact us at (91) 98410 41141


What is Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity affects more than is 15 percent of children, making it one of the common chronic disease of childhood.

Childhood obesity is not just a cosmetic problem. Today, more and more children are being diagnosed with diabetes, hypertension and other co-morbid conditions associated with obesity and morbid obesity.

Throughout this site, “overweight” and “obese” are used interchangeably. OBESITY FOUNDATION INDIA prefers the term “overweight,” while mass media often utilizes the term “obese” when referring to children.

Causes of Childhood Obesity

Although the causes of childhood obesity are widespread, certain factors are targeted as major contributors to this epidemic. Causes associated with childhood obesity include:
  • Environment
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Heredity and family
  • Dietary patterns
  • Socioeconomic status

Today’s environment plays a major role in shaping the habits and perceptions of children and adolescents. The prevalence of television commercials promoting unhealthy foods and eating habits is a large contributor. In addition, children are surrounded by environmental influences that demote the importance of physical activity.

Today, it is estimated that more money is spent on food outside home, at restaurants, cafeterias, sporting events, etc. In addition, as portion sizes have increased, when people eat out they tend to eat a larger quantity of food (calories) than when they eat at home.

Beverages such as carbonated soft drinks and juice boxes also greatly contribute to the childhood obesity epidemic. It is not uncommon for a bottle of soft drink to be marketed toward children, which contains approximately 400 calories. The consumption of cola by children has increased throughout the last 20 years by 300 percent. Scientific studies have documented a 60 percent increase risk of obesity for every regular soft drink consumed per day. Box drinks, juice, fruit drinks and sports drinks present another significant problem. These beverages contain a significant amount of calories and it is estimated that 20 percent of children who are currently overweight are overweight due to excessive caloric intake from beverages.

Lack of Physical Activity

Children in today’s society show a decrease in overall physical activity. The growing use of computers, increased time watching television and decreased physical education in schools, all contribute to children and adolescents living a more sedentary lifestyle.

Another major factor contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic is the increased sedentary lifestyle of children. School-aged children spend most of their day in school where their only activity comes during breaks or physical education classes.

Only 50 percent of children, 12 to 21 years of age, regularly participate in rigorous physical activity, while 25 percent of children report no physical activity. The average child spends two hours a day watching television, but 26 percent of children watch at least four hours of television per day.

Heredity and Family

Science shows that genetics play a role in obesity. It has been proven that children with obese parents are more likely to be obese. Estimates say that heredity contributes between 5 to 25 percent of the risk for obesity. However, genes alone do not always dictate whether a child is overweight or obese. Learned behaviors from parents are a major contributor. Parents, especially of those whose children are at risk for obesity at a young age, should promote healthy food and lifestyle choices early in their development.

Dietary Patterns

Over the past few decades, dietary patterns have changed significantly. The average amount of calories consumed per day has dramatically increased. Furthermore, the increase in caloric intake has also decreased the nutrients needed for a healthy diet.

Food portions also play an important role in the unhealthy diet patterns that have evolved. The prevalence of “extra large” options and “all you can eat” buffets create a trend in overeating. Combined with a lack of physical activity, children are consuming more and expending less.

Socioeconomic Status

Educational levels contribute to the socioeconomic issue associated with obesity. Parents with little to no education have not been exposed to information about proper nutrition and healthy food choices. This makes it difficult to instill those important values in their children.

Weight categories for children and teens are defined so that they take into account normal differences in body fat between boys and girls and differences in body fat at various ages. Children’s weight categories are determined by measuring a child’s weight and then plotting them on a weight-to-age chart. There are separate weight-to-age curves for males and females, ages two to 20 years.

Measuring Obesity in Children

Treating Childhood Obesity

Treating obesity in children and adolescents differs from treatment in adults. Involving the family in a child’s weight management program is a key element to treatment. Treatment of pediatric obesity is not accomplished by just dieting. You need to address multiple aspects of the child and the family’s lifestyle, nutrition and physical activity patterns. Prior to discussing any treatment plans, you first must determine the desired goals. If your child is overweight, or at risk for becoming overweight, it is important to work and develop an individualized plan of care that includes realistic goals and action steps.

As a support system, family is integral in ensuring weight management goals are met. You must first assess the readiness of the child and the family to make changes. If the child is very depressed, this needs to be addressed prior to working on the child’s weight problem. If a depressed child attempts weight-loss and is unsuccessful, this may worsen their depression or lower their self-esteem.

Similarly, if there is a lot of stress in the family at that time it is not ideal to try and tackle yet another major issue. In some situations where there is significant depression or stress, it may be most appropriate for the child and the family to seek counseling to address these issues. In addition, if parents express little concern regarding their child being overweight, they are not ready to make the necessary changes.

It is important to talk with your physician about options for treating childhood obesity. The various treatments of obesity in children and adolescents include:

  • Dietary therapy
  • Physical activity
  • Behavior modification

Diet Therapy

When treating an obese child or adolescent, it is often recommended that they have a consultation with a dietitian who can address the child’s needs. Dietitians can help children understand healthy eating habits and how to implement them in their long-term diet.

Dietitians do not always recommend restricting caloric intake for children. Education on how to identify healthy food, cut back on portions, understand the food pyramid and eat smaller bites at a smaller pace is generally the information given to change a child’s eating habits.

Physical Activity

Another form of obesity treatment in children is increasing physical activity. Physical activity is an important long-term ingredient for children, as studies indicate that inactivity in childhood has been linked to a sedentary adult lifestyle.

Increasing physical activity can decrease, or at least slow the increase, in fatty tissues in obese children. It is recommended that children get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Individualized programs are available and possible for those children or adolescents that are not able to meet minimum expectations.

Behavior Modification

Lifestyles and behaviors are established at a young age. It is important for parents and children to remain educated and focused on making long-term healthy lifestyle choices.

There are several ways that children and adolescents can modify their behavior for healthier outcomes, such as:
  • Changing eating habits
  • Increasing physical activity
  • Becoming educated about the body and how to nourish it appropriately
  • Engaging in a support group activity and setting realistic weight management goals
What can you do to learn more about childhood obesity?

The OBESITY FOUNDATION INDIA, a non profit patient-based organization, offers many valuable resources to those affected by childhood obesity and their family members.
For more information, please contact us at (+91) 98410 41141