Obesity is when a person is carrying too much body fat for their height and sex. A person is considered obese if they have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater (see box, to the left).
Today’s way of life is less physically active than it used to be. People travel on buses and cars, rather than walking, and many people work in offices, where they are sitting still for most of the day. This means that the calories they eat are not getting burnt off as energy. Instead, the extra calories are stored as fat.
Overtime, eating excess calories leads to weight gain. Without lifestyle changes to increase the amount of physical activity done on a daily basis, or reduce the amount of calories consumed, people can become obese.
How common is obesity?
In 2008, the latest year with available figures, nearly a quarter of adults (over 16 years of age) in
Amongst children (2-15 years of age), one in six boys and one in seven girls in
The number of overweight and obese people is likely to increase. The Foresight report, a scientific report used to guide government policy, has predicted that by 2025, nearly half of men and over a third of women will be obese.
Being overweight or obese can also shorten life expectancy (how long a person should live). In obese adults over 40 years of age, obesity can shorten life expectancy by 6-7 years.
Obesity is treated by losing weight, which can be achieved through a healthy, calorie-controlled diet and increased exercise. The lifestyle changes necessary for long-term weight loss can be challenging to achieve, but there is a wide range of support abvailable.