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What is obesity?

Obesity is a medical term for a person who is very overweight with excess body fat.

Obesity by numbers

Around 24% of men and 26% of women in the UK are obese.

The National Child Measurement Programme in England found that 18.9% of children in year 6 at school and 9.3% in reception classes were obese.

The 2007 Foresight Report predicted that half the UK population could be obese by 2050, but some experts believe this underestimates the scale of the problem.

An adult is considered obese if their body mass index or BMI is between 30 and 40.

A BMI over 40 indicate that a person is very obese or morbidly obese.

BMI is calculated from a person's weight in kilograms divided by their height in metres squared.

Obesity risks

Being obese increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers.

High blood pressure affects around 53% of obese men and 44% of obese women.

Each year there are more than 11,000 hospital admissions because of obesity.

Obesity causes and treatment

Obesity is usually caused by a person eating more calories than they burn through exercise and happens over a long period of time.

The treatment goal for obesity is to lose weight and try to reach a healthy weight. This may be done with diet, medication or in severe case, weight loss surgery.  Some health conditions can make a person gain weight, including polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, in women.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on January 27, 2014

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