Why Obesity Is and Isn’t Considered a Disease

Why Obesity Is and Isn’t Considered a Disease

Obesity is a complicated public health issue that medical experts are now acknowledging has multiple factors. These include physical, psychological, and genetic causes.

We’ll define obesity as medical experts currently do. We’ll also review statements and debate from the medical community about whether people should view obesity as a disease.

Major medical organizations consider obesity a disease, while some medical professionals disagree. Here’s why.

How is obesity measured?
Doctors consider obesity to be a condition in which a person develops excess body fat, also known as adipose tissue. Sometimes doctors may use the term “adiposity.” This term describes the state of excess fat tissue in the body.

Carrying this extra fat can cause health complications, including type 2 diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, and coronary heart disease.

Doctors use measurements like body weight, body height, and body build to define obesity. Some of the measurements include:

Body mass index
The body mass index (BMI) calculation is weight in pounds divided by height in inches squared, multiplied by 703, which is used to convert the measurement to the unit of BMI in kg/m2.

For example, a person who is 5 feet, 6 inches tall and 150 pounds would have a BMI of 24.2 kg/m2.

The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery defines three classes of obesity based on range of BMI:

class I obesity: a BMI of 30 to 34.9
class II obesity, or serious obesity: a BMI of 35 to 39.9
class III obesity, or severe obesity: a BMI of 40 and higher
A BMI calculator like the one provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source or by Diabetes Canada can be a place to start, though BMI alone doesn’t necessarily say what’s healthy for each person.

Waist circumference
Having a larger amount of abdominal fat relative to the rest of the body causes a greater risk of health complications. So a person may have a BMI that is in the “overweight” range (the category before obese), yet doctors consider them to have central obesity due to their waist circumference.

You can find your waist circumference by measuring your waist just above your hipbones. According to the CDCTrusted Source, a person is at greater risk for obesity-related conditions when their waist circumference is more than 40 inches for a man and 35 inches for a nonpregnant woman.

Measurements like BMI and waist circumference are estimates of the amount of fat a person has. They aren’t perfect.

For example, some bodybuilders and performance athletes may be so muscular that they have a BMI that falls in the obese range.

Most doctors will use BMI to make their best estimate about obesity in a person, but this may not be accurate for everyone.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: