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    Adult Obesity Causes & Consequences

    CDC addresses causes of adult obesity, including inactivity, eating patterns, genetics, family history, and environment as well as consequences of obesity.

    Adult Obesity Causes & Consequences

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    COVID-19: Obesity and Excess Weight Increase Severe Illness Risk; Racial and Ethnic Disparities Persist

    Obesity is a complex health issue resulting from a combination of causes and individual factors such as behavior and genetics. Behaviors can include physical activity, inactivity, dietary patterns, medication use, and other exposures. Additional contributing factors include the food and physical activity environment, education and skills, and food marketing and promotion.

    Obesity is serious because it is associated with poorer mental health outcomes and reduced quality of life. Obesity is also associated with the leading causes of death in the United States and worldwide, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer.


    Healthy behaviors include regular physical activity and healthy eating. Balancing the number of calories consumed from foods and beverages with the number of calories the body uses for activity plays a role in preventing excess weight gain.1,2 The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans

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    recommends adults do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity activity such as brisk walking. In addition, adults need to do activities that strengthen muscles at least 2 days a week.

    A healthy diet pattern follows the Dietary Guidelines for Americans

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    which emphasizes eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low-fat and fat-free dairy products, and drinking water.

    A pattern of healthy eating and regular physical activity is also important for long-term health benefits and prevention of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

    For more, see Healthy Weight – Finding a Balance.

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    Community Environment

    People and families may make decisions based on their environment or community. For example, a person may not walk or bike to the store or to work because of a lack of sidewalks or safe bike trails. Community, home, childcare, school, health care, and workplace settings can all influence daily behaviors. Therefore, it is important to create environments that make it easier to engage in physical activity and eat healthy foods.

    Watch The Obesity Epidemic

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    to learn about factors that contribute to the obesity epidemic, as well as several community initiatives to prevent and reduce obesity.

    Learn about community strategies to make it easier to be physically active.

    See strategies to prevent obesity and school health guidelines.

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    Do Genes Have a Role in Obesity?

    Genetic changes in human populations occur too slowly to be responsible for the obesity epidemic. Nevertheless, how people respond to an environment that promotes physical inactivity and intake of high-calorie foods suggests that genes do play a role in developing obesity.

    How Could Genes Influence Obesity?

    Genes give the body instructions for responding to changes in its environment. Variants in several genes may contribute to obesity by increasing hunger and food intake.

    Rarely, a clear pattern of inherited obesity within a family is caused by a specific variant of a single gene (monogenic obesity). Most obesity, however, probably results from complex interactions among multiple genes and environmental factors that remain poorly understood (multifactorial obesity).3,4

    What about Family History?

    Health care practitioners routinely collect family health history to help identify people at high risk of obesity-related diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and some forms of cancer. Family health history reflects the effects of shared genetics and environment among close relatives. Families cannot change their genes, but they can encourage healthy eating habits and physical activity. Those changes can improve the health of family members—and improve the health history of the next generation.3,4

    Learn more about obesity and genomics.

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    Other Factors: Diseases and Drugs

    Some illnesses may lead to obesity or weight gain. These may include Cushing’s disease, and polycystic ovary syndrome. Drugs such as steroids and some antidepressants may also cause weight gain. Research continues on the role of other factors in energy balance and weight gain such as chemical exposures and the role of the microbiome.

    A health care provider can help you learn more about your health habits and history to identify whether behaviors, illnesses, medications, and/or psychological factors are contributing to weight gain or making weight loss hard.

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    Consequences of Obesity

    Health Consequences

    People who have obesity, compared to those with a healthy weight, are at increased risk for many serious diseases and health conditions, including the following:5,6,7

    All-causes of death (mortality)

    High blood pressure (hypertension)

    High LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high levels of triglycerides (Dyslipidemia)

    Type 2 diabetes

    Coronary heart disease

    Stroke Gallbladder disease

    Osteoarthritis (a breakdown of cartilage and bone within a joint)

    Sleep apnea and breathing problems

    Many types of cancers

    external icon Low quality of life

    Mental illness such as clinical depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders8,9

    Source : www.cdc.gov

    The Epidemiology of Obesity: A Big Picture

    The epidemic of overweight and obesity presents a major challenge to chronic disease prevention and health across the life course around the world. Fueled by economic growth, industrialization, mechanized transport, urbanization, an increasingly sedentary ...

    Pharmacoeconomics. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2016 Jul 1.

    Published in final edited form as:

    Pharmacoeconomics. 2015 Jul; 33(7): 673–689.

    doi: 10.1007/s40273-014-0243-x

    PMCID: PMC4859313

    NIHMSID: NIHMS780628

    PMID: 25471927

    The Epidemiology of Obesity: A Big Picture

    Adela Hruby, PhD, MPH and Frank B. Hu, MD, PhD, MPH

    Author information Copyright and License information Disclaimer

    The publisher's final edited version of this article is available at Pharmacoeconomics

    See other articles in PMC that cite the published article.

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    The epidemic of overweight and obesity presents a major challenge to chronic disease prevention and health across the life course around the world. Fueled by economic growth, industrialization, mechanized transport, urbanization, an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, and a nutritional transition to processed foods and high calorie diets over the last 30 years, many countries have witnessed the prevalence of obesity in its citizens double, and even quadruple. Rising prevalence of childhood obesity, in particular, forebodes a staggering burden of disease in individuals and healthcare systems in the decades to come. A complex, multifactorial disease, with genetic, behavioral, socioeconomic, and environmental origins, obesity raises risk of debilitating morbidity and mortality. Relying primarily on epidemiologic evidence published within the last decade, this non-exhaustive review discusses the extent of the obesity epidemic, its risk factors—known and novel—, sequelae, and economic impact across the globe.

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    1. Introduction

    Obesity is a complex, multifactorial, and largely preventable disease (1), affecting, along with overweight, over a third of the world’s population today (2,3). If secular trends continue, by 2030 an estimated 38% of the world’s adult population will be overweight and another 20% will be obese (4). In the USA, the most dire projections based on earlier secular trends point to over 85% of adults being overweight or obese by 2030 (5). While growth trends in overall obesity in most developed countries seem to have leveled off (2), morbid obesity in many of these countries continues to climb, including among children. In addition, obesity prevalence in developing countries continues to trend upwards toward US levels.

    Obesity is typically defined quite simply as excess body weight for height, but this simple definition belies an etiologically complex phenotype primarily associated with excess adiposity, or body fatness, that can manifest metabolically and not just in terms of body size (6). Obesity greatly increases risk of chronic disease morbidity—namely disability, depression, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain cancers—and mortality. Childhood obesity results in the same conditions, with premature onset, or with greater likelihood in adulthood (6). Thus, the economic and psychosocial costs of obesity alone, as well as when coupled with these comorbidities and sequealae, are striking.

    In this article, we outline the prevalence and trends of obesity, then review the myriad risk factors to which a preventive eye must be turned, and finally present the costs of obesity in terms of its morbidity, mortality, and economic burden.

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    2. Classification of Body Weight in Adults

    The current most widely used criteria for classifying obesity is the body mass index (BMI; body weight in kilograms, divided by height in meters squared, Table 1), which ranges from underweight or wasting (<18.5 kg/m2) to severe or morbid obesity (≥40 kg/m2). In both clinical and research settings, waist circumference, a measure of abdominal adiposity, has become an increasingly important and discriminating measure of overweight/obesity (7). Abdominal adiposity is thought to be primarily visceral, metabolically active fat surrounding the organs, and is associated with metabolic dysregulation, predisposing individuals to cardiovascular disease and related conditions (8). Per internationally used guidelines of metabolic syndrome—a cluster of dysmetabolic conditions that predispose individuals to cardiovascular disease of which abdominal adiposity is one component—a waist circumference resulting in increased cardiovascular risk is defined as ≥94 cm in European men, and ≥80 cm in European women, with different cut points recommended in other races and ethnicities (e.g., ≥90 and ≥80 cm in men and women, respectively, in South Asians, Chinese, and Japanese) (8,9).

    Table 1

    Common Classifications of Body Weight in Adults and Children

    Age Indicator Normal Weight Overweight ObeseAdultsb ≥20 years BMI (kg/m2) 18.50 to 24.99 ≥25.00

    Preobesec: 25.00 to 29.99 ≥30.00a

    Class 1: 30.00 to 34.99

    Class 2: 35.00 to 39.99

    Class 3: ≥40.00



    WHO 2006d 0-60 months BMI Z or WH Z >−2 to ≤2 SD

    At risk of overweight:

    >1 to ≤2 SD >2 to ≤3 SD >3 SD

    WHO 2007e 5-19 years BMI Z >−2 to ≤1 SD >1 to ≤2 SD >2 SD

    IOTFf 2-18 years Growth curve for

    BMI at age 18 BMI = 25 BMI = 30

    USA g 2-19 years BMI percentile ≥5th to <85th ≥85th to <95th ≥95th

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    Abbreviations used: BMI, body mass index; IOTF, International Obesity Task Force; SD, standard deviation; WHO, World Health Organization; WH weight-for-height; Z, z score.

    Source : www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

    Nutrition Chapter 9 Flashcards

    Start studying Nutrition Chapter 9. Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools.

    Nutrition Chapter 9

    10 studiers in the last hour

    Which of the following two chronic health problems are more common in obese individuals than in lean individuals?

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    Diabetes and breast cancer

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    Identify the energy equation which is most accurate for the individual who is weight stable.

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    Energy intake equals total calories expended from physical activity, the thermic effect of food and the basal metabolic rate

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    1/28 Created by jeslovesss

    Terms in this set (28)

    Which of the following two chronic health problems are more common in obese individuals than in lean individuals?

    Diabetes and breast cancer

    Identify the energy equation which is most accurate for the individual who is weight stable.

    Energy intake equals total calories expended from physical activity, the thermic effect of food and the basal metabolic rate

    The calories used to maintain your body temperature, heart rate, respiration, kidney function, blood flow and transmitting nerve signals is included in:

    The BMR only

    A 19 year old female restricts her food intake, is dissatisfied with her body, has a fear of being fat, and has a normal body weight; from which of the following is she likely suffering?

    Bulimia nervosa

    Which set of characteristics is common among those with eating disorders?

    Low self-esteem, a perfectionist, unhealthy body image, and female

    Being overweight is defined as having a body mass index of:

    25 to 29.9 kg/m2

    Which of the following is a reason that the amount of extra subcutaneous fat would be higher than the amount of visceral fat?

    Being a woman

    Which of the following is included when calculating your EER?

    Age, Weight & Height

    All of the following are true about a person's weight EXCEPT:

    A single gene has been discovered that may contribute to obesity in humans.

    The hormone ghrelin causes an increase in appetite.


    Which of the following is a NEAT activity that can influence body weight?


    Jim has a BMI of 26 kg/m2, a waist circumference of 38, and none of the health conditions associated with excess body fat. He exercises regularly and does not smoke. From what we know about Jim, what can we most likely infer?

    He does not need to lose weight

    Losing weight too quickly may lead to:

    the loss of water weight, the loss of lean tissue & the lowering of BMR .

    People with eating disorders may exhibit all of the following characteristics:

    Setting high standards for themselves, unhealthy body image & binge eating

    Which of the following diet plans is the most adaptable for long-term use?

    An exchange diet plan

    Factors that stimulate hunger and appetite include all of the following EXCEPT

    low levels of fiber in the intestines.

    Genes are responsible for about _________ of the variation in BMI.


    All of the molecules listed below can be used for energy except:

    nucleic acids.

    All of the following factors increase basal metabolism except for what?


    Which of the following is NOT a factor in the increased incidence of obesity in the U.S.?

    Human genetics has changed significantly in the last 40 years.

    Basal metabolism includes all of the following body functions except for what?

    digesting and absorbing food

    What is hunger defined as?

    the physiological desire to consume food

    What is the range for healthy body fat composition for women?

    21 to 32%

    What is the healthy range for body fat composition for men?

    8 to 19%

    Lean body mass includes all of the following attributes EXCEPT which of the following?

    adipose tissue

    Lean body mass includes all of the following attributes:

    muscle, internal organs and bone

    Excess body fat increases the risk of developing all of the following health consequences:

    abnormal menstrual cycles in women, type 2 diabetes, and colon cancer

    Currently in the United States, __________ of adults are overweight or obese.


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