July 25, 2014
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Obesity

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Top 10 things to know about obesity

Here are 10 facts about obesity to help you better understand the risks involved in being obese and how you can safely lose weight and improve your health.

  1. Being obese is different from being overweight. Obese and overweight are terms used to describe a person's weight when it is more than considered healthy, but they don't mean exactly the same thing. Whether someone is overweight or obese is often determined by assessing a person's body mass index (BMI), an indirect measure of body fat 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.
     
  2. You need to know your body mass index (BMI). Your BMI is a number indicating the relationship between your weight and your height, and it's a good first step in diagnosing obesity. If your BMI is 30 or higher, you are considered obese. A BMI between 25 and 29.9 means you are overweight. Your BMI also helps you to assess your health risks associated with being overweight or obese. For more information about BMI, read "What is obesity?"
     
  3. Obesity is on the increase. Since the early 1980s, levels of obesity in Canada have roughly doubled. More than 25% of Canadian adults are considered obese. And 2 out of 3 Canadian adults are overweight.
     
  4. Obesity impacts children, too. Approximately 9% of Canadian children are obese, and 26% are over the healthy weight range - and the rates are on the rise. Obese children are more likely to be obese as adults and to be at risk for the many problems associated with obesity. Read more about the risks of childhood obesity in our health feature "Childhood Obesity."
     
  5. Obesity is a major health risk. Obesity increases a person's risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, gallbladder disease, breathing problems, and certain types of cancer. Learn more in "The health risks of obesity."
     
  6. Obesity can negatively affect daily life. Obesity brings with it an increased risk of chronic back pain, sleep apnea, and osteoarthritis, the types of chronic conditions that can make it difficult to climb stairs, get enough exercise, and get a good night's sleep. The emotional and mental effects of obesity are also significant and can lead to low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and isolation.
     
  7. Obesity can damage a person's fertility. Carrying excess weight can make it difficult for a woman to become pregnant and for a man to produce adequate amounts of healthy sperm. To learn more about obesity, overweight, and infertility, read "Infertility: Tipping the Scales in Your Favour."
     
  8. Obesity is not all about a lack of will power. Although it is true that eating too much can contribute to obesity, there are multiple risk factors. In addition to poor dietary habits and lack of physical activity, genetics and social and cultural factors can also play a role in a person's becoming obese. Also, some medications and medical problems can make a person more likely to gain excess weight. Read "Obesity risk factors" to find out more.
     
  9. Treating obesity is about more than simply losing weight. Obesity treatment is multi-faceted and involves making changes in eating habits and activity levels. It also involves becoming more educated about the risks of obesity. A doctor needs to investigate potential risks, complications, and underlying health conditions that may require treatment. In some cases, obesity treatment may also require medication or surgery. Learn more about managing and treating obesity in "Managing obesity: an overview."
     
  10. Physical activity is the key to preventing obesity. While there are many reasons why people become obese, lack of physical activity is one of the strongest risk factors and predictors. Many Canadian adults and children get much less daily physical activity than they need. For ideas to add physical activity to your routine, read "Physical activity and obesity."

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