DEFINITIONS: According to the ideal height and weight tables, the percentage deviation for overweight and obese will be clear. However, these may be defined as:
- Overweight --- A person who is 10 to 20 % above the normal ideal weight for his sex, age and height.
- Obese --- A person who is more than 20 % above the normal ideal weight for his sex, age and height.
- Underweight --- A person who is 10 % or more below the normal ideal weight for his sex, age and height.
Obesity and overweight have to be reviewed in terms of the ratio of lean body mass of muscle to body fat. An athlete for example will have highly developed muscle mass and therefore maybe overweight according to the layman but his body has more muscle than fat in proportion. It is therefore, not a more matter of total weight, one must be able to distinguished between weight due to well developed muscle mass and due to excessive flab or fat deposition.
TYPES AND CAUSES OF OBESITY
There are two types of obesity.
- Developmental obesity
- Reactive obesity
- DEVELOPMENTAL OBESITY: This category of obesity begins in the early years of a child’s life and continues steady over the adult years. Hence, the foundation has already set in by the time the child is about four years old. The cells become saturated with fat and as the child grows older, more and more fat accumulates in the body. Muscle and bone mass also increases since the body has to carry the additional weight. Such children usually grow tall, look older for their age and are obese right through infancy even up to their adult years. This type of obesity results in a higher lean body mass along with the fat.
- REACTIVE OBESITY: This type develops due to periods of emotional stress in a child’s life. During such stress periods the child may overeat resulting in increase of weight. However, since these periods are intermittent, the weight also reflects ups and downs. Such a type of obesity results in a child having more than mass as compared to the fat content. Difference in sexes have shown that women generally gain weight after the first pregnancy and after menopause. Men gain weight generally after the age of 50 since their basal metabolic rate is lowered and the physical activities are decreased, while the food intake in terms of calories is not reduced.
Factors Responsible for obesity:
1. Hereditary factor
2. Social and cultural factors
3. Emotional factors
4. Abnormalities of glandular functioning or metabolism.
IMPORTANCE OF WEIGHT REGULATION: One has often heard the phrase ‘the longer the belt, the shorter the life span’. Excess weight can be dangerous. It involves inconvenience and also decreases the efficiency of the person, besides subjecting the heart to undue stress.Obesity is indicated as a health hazard since statistical data shows that obese persons risk a number of diseases and hypertension. It also complicates other diseases such as respiratory difficulties in emphysema, chronic bronchitis and asthma. It increases risk during surgery. Heart attacks are more commonly found among the obese as is diabetes. Obesity, in short, places the body under undue strain, lowering resistance to infection, causing a general physical weakness and predisposing the obese persons to a number of diseases which can be fatal.