Obesity: Definition, Causes, Complications, and Diagnosis


Obesity is an interesting topic and a complex disease. It can also be known as overweight. WHO says at least 2 million people or more die every year as a result of being obese. Before obesity was mostly associated with countries with high-income but now even low-income and middle-income countries have obesity as a prevalent disease.


Obesity is disorder, characterized by excess body fat or accumulation of excessive fat that leads to health problems or increases the chances of health problems.

Generally, obesity can be defined by Body Mass Index (BMI). If the body mass index is equal to or greater than 30 (BMI≥30) that’s obesity.


  1. Genetics – if both parents are obese, there is every tendency that the child would be obsessed. Leptin deficiency is also a genetic cause of obesity. Leptin is a hormone that is produced in fat cells and also in the placenta. If the body fat stored is too high, leptin sends a signal to the brain to eat less thereby controlling weight. If leptin produced less in the body, the brain won’t receive signals to slow down or control eating therefore obesity can occur.

  2. Type of diet – Diets high in carbohydrates can increase the glucose level in the blood which on the other hand leads to increased stimulation of insulin (in the pancreas) and insulin, in turn, promotes or enhance the growth of fat tissue hence weight is gained.

  3. Lack of physical activities or exercise – physically inactive people burn lesser calories than active people. Daily mild exercise is encouraged so as to burn calories, stay fit, and healthy. Exercise also helps to increase blood flow, aids digestion and improves or boost brain capacity. If a person is physically inactive i.e. does little or no exercise or body movement there are high chances that such a person would become obsessed sooner or later.

  4. Excessive eating – Excessive eating (especially with little or no exercise) leads to weight gain. If the diet is high in carbohydrates and fat, it would lead to excessive weight gain. Also, research has shown that eating small frequent meals would produce or lead to a stable insulin level while large meals lead to large spikes of insulin especially after a meal.

  5. Psychological Factors – People respond differently to emotions (like stress, boredom, sadness, anger, or pain), therefore, emotions affect the eating habits of some individuals. Research has shown that psychological factors (disturbance) play a huge role in obesity. 30% of obsessed people have an eating disorder or difficulty.

  6. Poverty or low-income – Lack of money to buy healthy food is also a factor that increases the risk of obesity. In most countries, carbohydrate and fat-containing foods are readily available at a lower price(s).

  7. Medications – Some drugs can play a huge role in weight gain. Medications like anti-depressants, anti-convulsant (carbamazepine), medications for diabetes (Insulin, Sulfonylureas, thiazolidinediones), hormonal drugs (Contraceptives), corticosteroids (prednisone), high blood pressure medications and antihistamines

  8. Diseases – Some diseases or complicated stages of some diseases can lead to obesity. Disease like hypothyroidism, polycystic ovary syndrome, insulin-resistant diabetes, Cushing’s syndrome, Prader-Will syndrome, and others can lead to obesity.


  1. Breathlessness
  2. Increased sweating
  3. Fatigue and frequent tiredness
  4. Low self-esteem
  5. Exercise intolerance or physical activity intolerance
  6. Joints and backaches or pains
  7. Snoring
  8. Depression
  9. Mood disorders
  10. Edema
  11. Sleep apnea


  1. Overweight – if BMI (Body Mass Index) is within 25.0-29.9, the person is said to be overweight.
  2. Obesity – If BMI is within the range of 30.0 – 39.0, the person is said to be obesed
  3. Severe Obesity – if BMI is greater than 40 (≥40), the individual is severely obese.


Over 112,000 death yearly have been directly linked to obesity in the united states. Obesity increases the chances of developing quite a number of diseases. These disease(s)includes;


Also known as “adult-onset diabetes”. Obesity increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. (also read diabetes; causes and types)

In type 2 diabetes, the body makes enough insulin but the body cells are unable to use the insulin.

Obesity/overweight contributes to diabetes in the sense that, the cells of an obsessed individual are stressed. Also, overeating causes the Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER) (which is a membranous network of cells) to be stressed.

The ER therefore will have too many nutrients to process than it can actually handle, thus sending a signal to the cells to depress or damp down the insulin receptors. This will result in insulin resistance and increased sugar/glucose concentration in the blood (which is one of the significant signs of diabetes).

Read Also: Diabetes Mellitus: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Prevention


High Blood pressure/Hypertension is a very delicate disease that should be handled as quickly as possible. Obesity or overweight can predispose or increase the risk of a person coming down with hypertension or high blood pressure. An obsessed person has an increased level of fatty tissue which in turn increases the vascular resistance thus increasing the workload of the heart, therefore increasing the pressure of blood against the walls of the blood vessels.


Osteoarthritis is a very common joint disorder and its symptoms are felt on the hand, knees, hips, back, neck, and joints. Obesity increases the chances or risks of osteoarthritis because excess fat automatically increases the mechanical load of cartilage and bones (i.e the cartilage and bone have to carry too much load than normal) causing it to wear and tear.


Sleep apnea is a very serious type of sleep disorder in which the breathing pattern of a person is distorted or interrupted during sleep. That is to say during sleep the person’s breathing can stop and start repeatedly.

Obesity is a major cause of sleep apnea, this is because excess body weight can cause the diaphragm, lungs, chest cavity, and the upper airways to compress which leads to the collapse of the airways and chest cavities and also lead to pulmonary damage. Also, excess body fat can reduce respiratory system compliance, increase pulmonary resistance, and depress muscle strength of distort breathing patterns during sleep (sleep apnea).


Obesity/Over-weight puts excess pressure on the kidney, thus increasing the workload of the kidney leading to hyperfiltration (filtering above normal level) and over time this increased workload of the kidney will lead to kidney dysfunction and disease.


Overweight individuals require more blood to be able to supply oxygen and nutrients to their body cells. This increases blood pressure and can lead to heart disease or even heart attack.

An obsessed person is likely to come down with stroke because excess fat can cause inflammation to occur which in turn leads to the poor blood supply to various tissues or parts of the body and potential blockage.


Fatty liver disease is a disease characterized by the increased build-up of fat in the liver. It can be of 2 types – Alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD) and Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Obesity is a major risk factor for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

NAFLD – is the accumulation of excess fat (also as a result of obesity) in the liver but in the absence of alcohol. The fat accumulation in the liver can lead to liver scarring (fibrosis) and liver cirrhosis.


Obesity is also a risk factor for cancer, obsessed individuals tend to come down with type 2 diabetes as a result of insulin resistance and this high concentration of sugar in the blood can help to fuel the growth of cancer cells also the inflammation which occurs as a result of excess body fat (in obsessed person) also promotes cancer growth.

Read Also: Cancer: Types, Causes, Symptoms & Signs Prevention, and Treatments


The most effective treatment and prevention of obesity is exercise and controlled eating habits or dieting.

  • Exercise helps to burn body fats.
  • Controlled eating/dieting helps to reduce the consumption of calories and cholesterols.

Hope you enjoyed this article. Leave comments below, let’s know your thoughts about this article.

Stay Safe! Stay healthy because health is wealth!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here