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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

According to NHS Digital and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) 27% of adults in England were obese in 2015/6. Overall more men are overweight or obese than women.

In reception year, 9% of children are obese. In year 6 20% of children are obese.

An adult is considered obese if their body mass index (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 almost 10,000 hospital admissions in England directly related to obesity.

Obesity causes and treatment

Obesity is usually caused by a person eating more calories than they burn through exercise and develops 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 November 01, 2017

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