Obesity: Causes and Treatment


Obesity is a rapidly growing epidemic in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of American adults are now obese. Although standards are different for teenagers and children, obesity is generally defined as carrying weight over the ideal body mass index range of 18.5 to 24.9. Once over this range, the degree of obesity can be scaled as follows:

  • Overweight: BMI of 25.0 to 29.9
  • Obese: BMI of 30.0 and above
  • Morbid obesity: BMI of 40.0 and above (or 35 and above with chronic health condition, such as diabetes or high blood pressure)

Obesity is caused by an imbalance in the relationship between caloric intake and caloric expenditure. When we eat, the body converts food into calories to be used for basic body functions and physical activity. When the amount of food that we eat provides more calories than are spent through activity, excess weight gain occurs. When this balance is disrupted for extended periods of time, obesity can result.

Being overweight can have serious health consequences. Obese patients are at a higher risk for developing many chronic health conditions, including high cholesterol, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Fortunately, there are ways for patients struggling with obesity to regain control of their health. Below are a few of the ways that obese men and women can work to lose weight.

  • Diet and exercise
    For some patients, closely monitoring caloric intake using a food diary and committing to an exercise program can be effective in combating obesity.
  • Behavior therapy
    Behavior therapy can be used to help patients understand the underlying cause of their condition. With the assistance of a therapist, patients can find out when and why they overeat and what they can do to overcome these unhealthy habits.
  • Bariatric surgery
    In combination with behavior therapy and lifestyle modification, bariatric surgery can be extremely effective in helping patients lose weight and keep it off in the long-term. By reducing the size of the stomach, appetite is greatly reduced and only small portions can be consumed at a time. The absorptive capabilities of the small intestine can also be altered to decrease fat and nutrient uptake after meals, further reducing the amount of calories consumed.

If you are struggling with obesity, let Riverside Community Hospital help. Consult with one of our weight loss specialists to find the right treatment for you. Find a physician today by calling (951) 788-3000.

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