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on psychiatry and psychology

Obesity Health Risks

Abstract: The are large health risks with obesity. Obesity increase the risks of many serious disorders and premature death is more common than for normal-weight people.

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Obesity Health Risks

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Written by: Fabio Piccini, doctor and Jungian psychotherapist, in charge of the "Centre for Eating Disorders Therapy" at "Malatesta Novello" nursing home in Cesena. Works privately in Rimini and Chiavari. E-mail:
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 14 Oct 2008.

Is obesity dangerous? What are the obesity health risks?

Answer:

Body fat is good for you. It protects internal organs, isolate the organism thermically and softens blows.

However, obesity is harmful and excessive weight can provoke serious disorders and obese people have from double to triple the probability of dying prematurely, compared to people with normal weight.

A person is called obese when the Body Mass Index greater than 30. When the BMI is greater than 40 we speak about grave obesity, which implies a serious risk for the person’s health. More about Body Mass Index.

An obese person has a weight that exceeds by far the ideal one estimated from a health point of view (and also from an insurance point of view).

An obese person runs the risk of a range of diseases that are linked to obesity and are more probable when the obesity level is higher.

These diseases are: diabetes, bilary calculosis, respiratory insufficiency, nocturnal apnoea, cardiovascular diseases, arterial hypertension, arthrosis of backbone and of lower limbs, fertility anomalies, cancer.

The obesity state is also a specific risk factor for anaesthetic accidents, if you need a general anaesthesia to undergo a surgical operation.

It has been proved that these risks can be greatly reduced by keeping some parameters under control. Paradoxically, among them weight will be less influential. Recent research has demonstrated that a 10% initial weight loss is enough. It is an easy goal to reach and to maintain and in time it is a sufficient factor to decrease mortality caused by obesity by 20%, decrease by 40% mortality linked to the cancer risk, and decrease by 30% mortality linked to diabetes.

So a little weight loss can bring great benefits to health. But how can we define the risk index more accurately? How can we know when it is opportune to lose weight?

After having calculated your BMI, you also need to measure the waist, as it measures the abdominal obesity level, because abdominal obesity level is another factor directly linked to the health risk of obesity.

However, waist measurement is a useful figure only when the BMI value is under 35%, because if it is greater it means that the risk index is too high. To decrease the pathological risk index linked to obesity, waist measurements should be kept below 88 cm for women and 102 cm for men.

Weight loss is therefore highly advisable when:

  • BMI is greater than 30
  • BMI is between 25/30 but waist measurement is greater than 88 cm for women and 102 for men
  • There are pathological conditions linked to obesity (respiratory, cardiovascular, diabetes, etc) that are already in progress.

In all these cases, following a weight control program nowadays available in many hospital centres, it is possible to significantly decrease pathological risks linked to the obesity condition, even without submitting to an exhausting and inadequate diet.

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