-Obesity means having excess body fat. Obesity is best defined by using the body mass index. The body mass index is calculated using a person’s height and weight. The body mass index (BMI) equals a person’s weight in kilograms (kg) divided by their height in meters (m) squared.
An adult who has a BMI of 25-29.9 is considered overweight, and an adult who has a BMI over 30 is considered obese. A BMI of 18.5-24.9 is considered normal weight.
Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. Over two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese, and one in three Americans is obese.
The most common causes of obesity are:
Overeating and physical inactivity. Ultimately, body weight is the result of genetics, metabolism, medications, diseases, psychosocial issues, and culture.
Obesity increases the risk for:
Heart attacks, high blood pressure, strokes, diabetes, high cholesterol, gallbladder and pancreas problems, fatty liver, sleep apnea, depression, cancers, arthritis and many more illnesses.
Obesity is difficult to treat and has a high relapse rate. Most people who lose weight regain the weight within five years.
Even a modest weight loss of 5%-10% of initial weight and the long-term maintenance of that weight loss can bring significant health benefits.
It is not necessary to achieve an “ideal weight” to derive health benefits from obesity treatment. Instead, the goal of treatment should be to reach and hold to a “healthier weight.”
The best and safest way to lose weight is through a commitment to a lifelong process of proper diet and regular exercise.
Medications should be considered helpful adjuncts to diet and exercise for patients whose health risk from obesity clearly outweigh the potential side effects of the medications
Bariatric surgery is reserved for morbid obesity, BMI of 35 kg/m2 together with obesity-related morbidity or BMI of 40 kg/m2 in the absence of associated morbidity and is considered when other non-surgical treatments have failed.
Effective management of obesity must be based on a partnership between a highly motivated patient and a committed team of health professionals including the physician, a psychologist or psychiatrist, physical and exercise therapists, and dietitians.
Dr. Mahesh Ochaney is a solo practitioner who has been practicing Internal Medicine since 1991. Dr. Ochaney’s compassionate primary care has been recognized several times over the years, including being named a 2018 Top Doctor by Baltimore Magazine and receiving a State of Maryland Governor’s Citation.