How much do you know about obesity?

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What is the primary factor driving obesity worldwide?

Excess appetite for high-calorie food

What is the definition of obesity according to the World Health Organization (WHO)?

A BMI over 30 kg/m2

What is the most effective treatment for obesity?

Bariatric surgery

What is the link between obesity and cardiovascular diseases?

Obesity increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases

What is the impact of obesity on life expectancy?

Obesity reduces life expectancy by 6-7 years on average

What is the main cause of obesity in pets?

Excess appetite for high-calorie food

What is the economic impact of obesity?

The economic costs of obesity are significant

What are the main causes of childhood obesity?

Decreasing physical activity and changing diet

What is the obesity survival paradox?

Obese people have a lower risk of death than non-obese people

Study Notes

Obesity: A Summary

  • Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat negatively impacts health, and is classified by a BMI over 30 kg/m2.

  • Obesity is caused by a range of factors, including diet, physical activity, genetics, mental health, and exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

  • Obesity is linked to numerous diseases and conditions, including cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, certain types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.

  • There is no effective, evidence-based intervention for preventing obesity, and maintaining weight loss long term is rare.

  • Changes to diet and exercise are the main treatments recommended by health professionals, but medications, gastric balloons, or surgery may be used if these are not effective.

  • Obesity is a leading preventable cause of death worldwide, and reduces life expectancy by 6-7 years on average.

  • Obesity increases the risk of developing various metabolic diseases, cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis, Alzheimer disease, depression, and certain types of cancer.

  • The number of people considered metabolically healthy obese depends on the definition used, and there is no universally accepted definition.

  • The obesity survival paradox describes improved health outcomes in certain subgroups at an increased BMI, such as those with heart failure, but the risk of further cardiovascular events is increased in those with greater degrees of obesity.

  • The primary factor driving obesity worldwide is excess appetite for palatable, high-calorie food, particularly fat, sugar, and certain animal proteins.

  • Dietary energy supply per capita varies markedly between different regions and countries, and total food energy consumption has been found to be related to obesity.

  • The widespread availability of dietary guidelines has done little to address the problems of overeating and poor dietary choice.Factors Contributing to Obesity

  • Fast-food consumption and energy-dense, big-portions, and fast-food meals are contributing to the rising rates of obesity.

  • Agricultural policies and techniques in the United States and Europe have led to lower food prices, making processed food cheaper than fruits and vegetables.

  • Obese people consistently under-report their food consumption as compared to people of normal weight.

  • Sedentary lifestyles, due to increasing use of mechanized transportation and labor-saving technology in the home, may play a significant role in obesity.

  • Television viewing time is associated with the risk of obesity in both children and adults.

  • Genetics play a role in obesity, with polymorphisms in various genes controlling appetite and metabolism predisposing to obesity.

  • Certain physical and mental illnesses and the pharmaceutical substances used to treat them can increase the risk of obesity.

  • Social determinants, such as income inequality, access to nutritious food, and cultural values, can contribute to obesity.

  • Smoking and lack of sleep are also associated with obesity.

  • Gut flora and viruses may affect metabolic potential and contribute to obesity, but research is still in its early stages.

  • The pathophysiology of obesity involves sustained positive energy balance and the resetting of the body weight "set point" at an increased value.

  • The main treatment for obesity consists of weight loss via lifestyle interventions, including prescribed diets and physical exercise. Public health efforts seek to understand and correct the environmental factors responsible for the increasing prevalence of obesity in the population.Obesity: Medical Interventions, Epidemiology, History, and Economic Impact

Medical Interventions:

  • Medications for obesity have been available since the 1930s, but most reduce body weight by small amounts and have side effects.
  • Five medications are beneficial for long-term use, resulting in weight loss after one year ranging from 3.0 to 6.7 kg over placebo.
  • Bariatric surgery is the most effective treatment for obesity, associated with long-term weight loss, improved obesity-related conditions, and decreased overall mortality.
  • Complications occur in about 17% of cases and reoperation is needed in 7% of cases.


  • Obesity was rare in earlier historical periods, but as prosperity increased, it affected larger groups of the population.
  • The global prevalence of obesity more than doubled between 1980 and 2014, with higher rates among women than men.
  • In 2015-2016, about 39.6% of adults in the US were affected by obesity.
  • The rate of obesity increases with age, and severe obesity in the US, Australia, and Canada is increasing faster than the overall rate of obesity.
  • Once considered a problem only of high-income countries, obesity rates are rising worldwide and affecting both the developed and developing world.


  • The term obesity comes from the Latin obesitas, which means "stout, fat, or plump."
  • Ancient Greek medicine recognized obesity as a medical disorder, and it was viewed as a sign of wealth and prosperity throughout history.
  • During the 20th century, as populations reached their genetic potential for height, weight began increasing much more than height, resulting in obesity.
  • Many cultures throughout history have viewed obesity as the result of a character flaw.
  • Obesity is still seen as a sign of wealth and well-being in many parts of Africa.

Society and Culture:

  • Obesity leads to many problems, including disadvantages in employment and increased business costs.

  • The medical costs attributable to obesity in the US were an estimated $190.2 billion or 20.6% of all medical expenditures in 2005.

  • Obesity prevention programs have been found to reduce the cost of treating obesity-related disease.

  • Obese workers have higher rates of absenteeism from work and take more disability leave, decreasing productivity and increasing costs for employers.

  • Specific industries, such as the airline, healthcare, and food industries, have special concerns due to rising rates of obesity.Overview of Obesity

  • Obesity is a medical condition characterized by excessive accumulation of body fat that can lead to health problems and reduced life expectancy.

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) defines obesity as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher.

  • Obesity rates have risen dramatically in recent decades, with over 1.9 billion adults and 340 million children and adolescents worldwide being overweight or obese.

  • Obesity is linked to a wide range of health problems, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, certain types of cancer, and mental health disorders.

  • The causes of obesity are complex and include genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors.

  • Treatment options for obesity include lifestyle changes, medications, and surgery.

  • The fat acceptance movement aims to decrease discrimination against overweight and obese people.

  • Childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions, with changing diet and decreasing physical activity being the two most important causes.

  • Obesity in pets is also a common problem, with rates as high as 41% in dogs and 6.4% in cats in the United States.

  • Many organizations have published reports and guidelines on the management and prevention of obesity, including the WHO and various national health agencies.

  • Industry influence on research has been a concern, with some non-profit organizations being funded by companies with a vested interest in promoting certain viewpoints.

  • The economic costs of obesity are significant, with estimates ranging from $2 trillion to $4 trillion per year globally.

  • Prevention efforts and policy interventions, including changes to the food environment, are key to addressing the obesity epidemic.

Are you interested in learning more about obesity? Take this quiz to test your knowledge on the causes, health implications, and treatment options for this medical condition. From the history of obesity to the current global prevalence rates, this quiz covers a wide range of topics related to obesity. Test your understanding of the complex causes of obesity, the various medical interventions available, and the economic impact of this condition. Take the quiz now to see how much you know about this important public health issue.

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