Obesity is an excess of body fat frequently resulting in a significant impairment of health. The precise determination of the amount of body fat requires technically sophisticated methods that are available only in research laboratories. Body composition varies among persons of the same height and weight.
Studies indicate that human fatness results from genetically predetermined body weight set-point that exerts its control over an individual's body weight through alterations of that person's basal metabolic rate. This set-point may be further influenced by learned eating behavior, perception of body image, and the availability of food.
A strong association between the prevalence of obesity and cardiovascular disease risk exists. The prevalence of hypertension is 2.9 times higher in overweight than for normal weight persons. Lower levels of blood pressure and serum cholesterol can be achieved by weight reduction. There is a positive relationship of obesity to the risk of coronary artery heart disease.
The prevalence of diabetes reported is 3 times higher in overweight than in normal weight persons. Weigh reduction can reverse the abnormal biochemical characteristics of diabetes.
Obese males, regardless of smoking habits, have a higher mortality from cancer of the colon, rectum, and prostate.
Obese females have a higher mortality from cancer of the gallbladder, biliary passages, breast, uterus, and ovaries, colon, and rectum.
Regarding endometrial cancer, women with marked obesity show the highest relative risk (5.4) compared with the nonobese.
Obesity has an adverse affect on longevity. The greater the degree of obesity, the higher the mortality rate or excess death rate.
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