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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 1 in 4 adults in the UK are obese.

The National Child Measurement Programme in England found that around one in 5 (19.1%) Year 6 children are now 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 30 or more.

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 in England 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 for example polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in women and hypothyroidism.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on December 22, 2015

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