What is overweight?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that can impair health. Obesity leads to health issues and can reduce life-expectancy. The number of people suffering from obesity has more than doubled since 1980 and this is considered one of the most serious public health issues of the 21st century.  

Body Mass index (BMI) is a simple internationally known mathematical formula commonly used to classify overweight and obesity among adults. BMI compares weight and height and is calculated by dividing the person’s weight with the square of his/her height in meters (kg/m2). BMI is a simple and useful measurement for classifying obesity, but it is important to consider BMI as merely an indicative guide as it does not take into account whether your weight is dominated by fat or muscle mass. According to WHO’s definition, a person with a BMI greater than 25kg/m2 is classified as overweight.

Increased BMI is a major risk factor in relation to a number of diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, sleep apnoea, cancer and muscle and skeleton diseases like osteoarthritis. The risk of developing these diseases increases the higher the BMI is, and overweight people would benefit from losing weight to improve their health.  

An example of an obesity-related disease is osteoarthritis, where overweight directly affects the weight bearing joints; especially the knees. Examinations have shown that osteoarthritis in the knees is 4-5 times more common among people with an increased BMI, than among those with a normal BMI. If a person suffers from osteoarthritis, it is of great importance that he/she loses weight to stop the development.


What causes overweight?

Overweight is most often caused by an imbalance between the consumed number of calories and the burned calories, where excess calories are stored as fat. A tendency towards increased intakes of energy rich foods as well as a decrease in physical activity can be seen worldwide. Unhealthy food or an abundance hereof combined with little physical activity thereby causes overweight. In addition, many diseases and drugs can cause weight gain.


What are the treatments?

Overweight can be prevented in most people if the balance between burned calories and caloric intake is controlled. Lifestyle changes through a smaller caloric intake and increased physical activity is an effective form of treatment against overweight.

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