The risks, causes, and treatments of obesity

Reducing the risk associated with obesity

Did you know that obesity can reduce a person’s life expectancy by an average of 3 to 10 years?

The term ‘obese’ describes a person who's very overweight and has a lot of body fat. It’s estimated that obesity affects a quarter of all adults in the UK and around 1 in 5 children between the ages of 10 and 11.

How do I know if I'm obese?

The most widely used method to check if you're a healthy weight is body mass index (BMI).

For most adults, a BMI of:

  • 5 to 24.9 means you're a healthy weight
  • 25 to 29.9 means you're overweight
  • 30 to 39.9 means you're obese
  • 40 or above means you're severely obese

However, do remember that BMI is not the only method used to determine obesity because muscular people can have a high BMI as muscles weigh more than fat. Waist size can be used to more accurately measure if someone is overweight. Generally, men with a waist size of 94cm or more and women with a waist size of 80cm or more have a higher chance of developing obesity-related health problems.

What are the causes of obesity?

Consuming more calories, particularly those found in sugary and fatty foods, but not burning them off through physical activity results in this excess energy being stored in the body as fat. Read our article Sit less and move more: get On Your Feet Britain! to find out how integrate more exercise into your busy schedule.

It’s important to note that there are also some underlying health conditions that can occasionally contribute to weight gain, such as an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism). However, this doesn’t usually cause weight problems if they’re effectively controlled with medicines.

What are the risks of obesity?

Lifelong excess weight may double a woman’s risk of womb cancer. A Bristol study which has been funded by Cancer Research UK, and has been published in the BMC Medicine journal, has found that for every five extra BMI units, a woman’s risk of womb (endometrial) cancer can increase by 88%. Five BMI units is the difference between the overweight and the obese category, or of a 5ft 5in adult woman being two stones heavier, according to CRUK.

Being obese can lead to a number of serious and potentially life-threatening conditions:

How can you treat obesity?

The best way to naturally treat obesity is to eat a healthy diet and to exercise regularly. To be fit and healthy it is recommended that you take up activities such as fast walking or swimming for 150 to 300 minutes (2.5 to 5 hours) a week.

Losing even 3% of your original body weight and working to maintain this can significantly reduce your risk of developing obesity-related complications like diabetes and heart disease.

Private weight loss procedures at Benenden Hospital

Being overweight or obese can lead to womb, breast and bowel cancer as well as type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease. Discover how our self-pay weight loss procedures can reduce health risks and transform your life.

For more information, or to book a consultation, complete our online form or call our Private Patient Team on 01580 363158.

Published on 19 April 2022