What is Obesity?

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For many people the word “obesity” conjures up the image of the 600 lb. model on novelty greeting cards. You know the one, dressed in lingerie with the mountains of excess fat and heavy blue eye-shadow. These people would never describe themselves as obese; “pleasingly plump”, a little chunky, or maybe just plain overweight, but never obese. In reality, “obese” is a medical term used to describe a condition where excess weight puts an individual at an increased risk for numerous conditions, diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, coronary disease, certain types of cancer and ultimately an earlier than necessary death. What most people do not realize is that it does not take being hundreds of pounds overweight to qualify as being obese. In fact some studies estimate that as much as 31% of the total population of the United States is currently obese. When broken down into age groups the numbers can be even more disturbing, with approximately 72% of people over 55 classifying as obese. These figures are staggering and unfortunately they appear to be on the rise. According to the experts the current numbers have doubled since the mid-1980’s. There are several classifications of obesity and they are: mild, moderate and severe or morbid obesity. In the classic definition mild obesity occurs when a person weighs 20% to 40% more than his or her ideal weight. Moderate obesity, by this standard, occurs when a person is between 40 and 100% above the ideal and severe or morbid obesity would be a person whose weight is 100% above normal, or in other words they weigh twice as much as they should. The term morbid refers to the fact that this condition is, in fact, deadly. Modern technology has changed the scene even on the topi... ... middle of paper ... ...ong African Americans and Hispanics when compared to the Caucasian population in the United States. Not only are the obesity rates higher in both the African American and Hispanic populations, but consequentially there is also a higher rate of obesity related disease among these populations as well. Some interpretations of the data lead to the theory that the higher obesity rates in these two populations could be both racial/ethnic and economic in nature, with lower income levels leading to less expensive and thus less healthy food choices and resulting in more obesity. However, the two groups experience higher rates of different obesity related diseases, with Hispanics favoring insulin resistant syndrome, which could also be called pre-diabetes type 2 and African Americans favoring hypertension which indicates the possibility of genetics playing a role as well.

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