November 23, 2014
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Obesity

 Health Home >> Obesity >> Obesity overview 

Obesity FAQs

What is the difference between being overweight and being obese?
Determining whether someone is overweight or obese is often determined by assessing a person's body mass index (BMI), which is a ratio between weight and height. If your BMI falls between 25 and 29.9, you are overweight. If your BMI is 30 or higher, you are considered obese. Use the BMI calculator to determine whether you are a healthy weight, overweight, or obese.

What is the main cause of obesity?
Though genetics and cultural and environmental factors can lead to obesity, the main cause is eating too much and/or not getting enough exercise.

What are the health risks of obesity?
Being obese puts you at risk for a number of preventable diseases and conditions, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, gallbladder disease, breathing problems, certain types of cancer, chronic back pain, and osteoarthritis. Obesity may also take a toll on self-esteem and contribute to depression.  Read "Health risks of obesity" for more information.

Why is obesity a growing problem?
Obesity is spreading in many countries because of changes in the way we live, work, and play. Many of our jobs have become less physically demanding, but we seem to have less and less time available to devote to physical activity and exercise. We drive more and walk less. We spend many more hours than we ever have sitting in front of screens - watching television, playing video games, browsing the internet, or engaging with our mobile devices. Our habits around food have changed, too, as we eat bigger and bigger portions of less healthful foods.  For some interesting statistics, read "Obesity: a national concern."

What is the best way to lose weight?
When it comes to healthy weight loss, slow and steady wins the race. Aim for losing 1 to 2 pounds per week by increasing physical activity, making healthy diet changes, and getting support from your doctor or from a weight loss program. To stick to a weight loss plan, choose moderate weight loss goals and adapt your diet and fitness routine in ways that are sustainable and not too restrictive.

I think my child is obese. What can I do?
If you are concerned about your child's weight for any reason, it is always advised that you talk to your doctor first. There could be any number of reasons why a child gains too much weight, and you want to rule out any underlying causes. You can also take steps to improve your child's lifestyle habits, encouraging more physical activity (at least one hour every day) and limiting screen time with TV, computers, mobile devices, and video games. Be a good role model by buying, preparing, and eating nutritious foods. Limit fast food meals, and eat together as a family. Plan fun, active family outings and adventures.

Does liposuction work for obesity?
Liposuction, sometimes called body contouring, is a cosmetic procedure that re-shapes and smoothes the body. Though liposuction removes unwanted deposits of excess fat, it is not a substitute for diet and physical activity and is not a treatment for obesity. 

Am I a candidate for surgery to lose weight?
You may be advised by your doctor to consider weight loss surgery if your body mass index (BMI) is 35 or higher and you have other risk factors, or is 40 or higher with no risk factors. Also taken into consideration is your medical history and your attempts to lose weight.  For more information on surgical options for obesity, read "Surgery for obesity."

What medications are used to treat obesity? 
Always speak to your doctor before taking any type of medication, including over-the-counter weight loss medications or supplements, since they can be harmful if used incorrectly and may interact with other medications and medical conditions. The only prescription weight loss medication available in Canada is orlistat (Xenical®), which is generally prescribed to those whose BMI is 30 or higher and who have not lost weight through other means, and to those with certain risk factors whose BMI is 27 or higher. Read "Prescription treatment options for obesity" to learn more. 


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