Featured Obesity Article


´╗┐Knowing What Obesity Really Is

A wise man once said that a person couldn't battle an enemy and win unless the person knows the enemy well. This sound advice could also apply to an increasingly important health condition known as obesity.

As with most subjects, it is best to begin by defining the term and condition we are interested in. The dictionary definition of obesity states that it is simply "increased body weight due to excessive accumulation of fat." Even knowing that much can help those who are concerned about the condition. But what is fat, the thing we have too much of?

Fat, or adipose tissue in animals, is a form of glycerol and fatty acid in a soft, semisolid state. How much fat a person carries on their body is generally determined by how much of the substance is eaten in the food or how much of the food we eat converts to fat. For example, animals eat carbohydrates and this is easily converted to fat. (Carbohydrates are compounds such as sugars and starches). When this process results in an amount of fat that is beyond what doctors consider average, obesity results.

An encyclopedia definition expands what we need to know about obesity by noting that humans and other mammals have a natural energy reserve stored in the fatty tissue. But this condition can increase to the point where it becomes a health concern. Basically, we need a certain amount of fat as stored energy and for insulating the body. But too much fat can lead to serious health problems.

The word "obesity" comes from the Latin "obesus," which generally meant stout, fat or plump. It is interesting to find that if we go back even further, the Latin word comes from "edere," which means, "to eat." This connection between eating, stored energy and fat is at the core of medical studies on obesity. According to medical literature, obesity is not only a problem for an individual but it is increasingly viewed as a serious public health concern. Excessive body weight in humans can lead to problems with the heart and with blood circulation. It can also play a part in some types of diabetes and may contribute to osteoarthritis.

Some cultures in the past have looked on plumpness as attractive. Obesity, in some cultures, was also connected to fertility in females. Historians believe these beliefs may stem from heavier women being able to survive famine and nurse children more easily than thinner women. Even today, many societies around the world see a larger, well-fed person as a symbol of financial success. However, most cultures today have come to understand how obesity can negatively affect health. The World Health Organization notes that a person is obese if there is accumulation of fatty tissue more than two times the standard. Having some guidelines can help individuals and medical personnel deal with this growing health risk.