Obesity: what is...
Obesity is one of the most pervasive, chronic diseases in need of systematic medical treatment and prevention. It is broadly defined as an excessive accumulation of fat in the body.1 The European Medicines Agency (EMA) recognizes obesity as a chronic clinical condition that usually requires long-term therapy to induce and maintain weight loss.1
Many genetic, physiological, and behavioral factors play a role in the etiology of obesity. Diet and exercise are known to play a valuable role in the treatment and prevention of obesity and associated disorders such as hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes.1 At an individual level, obesity is the amount of body fat - specifically adipose tissue.2
The regional distribution of adipose tissue is important in understanding how obesity is related to some of the associated comorbidities. Excess fat in the central or abdominal region of the body often correlates with increased mortality and disease risk.3
A fundamental principle of nutrition and metabolism is that body weight change is associated with an imbalance between the energy content of food eaten and energy expended by the body to maintain life and to perform physical work. To maintain a stable body weight, energy intake must, over time, exactly equal energy expenditure.
The more that is understood about the etiology of obesity, the more it appears.
Overweight and obesity are a result of energy imbalance over a long period of time. The cause of energy imbalance for each individual may be due to a combination of several factors. Individual behaviors, environmental factors, and genetics all contribute to the complexity of the obesity epidemic. Major efforts are underway in the scientific community to focus on each of these areas, but few efforts to integrate among areas!4
1. European Medicines Agency (EMA). http://www.ema.europa.eu/docs/en_GB/document_library/Scientific_guideline/2009/09/WC500003264.pdf. Accessed 10 August 2016.
2. Herrera BM et al. Maturitas. 2011;69:41-49.
3. Wajchenberg BL. Endocr Rev. 2000;21:697-738.
4. Mitchell NS et al. Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2011;34:717-732