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Obesity is a medical classification regarding an extreme level of excessive body weight. It is a more serious classification on the Body Mass Index (BMI) scale than the overweight classification is. From a medical perspective, an obese person has accumulated enough body fat that it can negatively impact health.

If an adult's weight is at least 20% higher than his ideal weight (which is based upon the person's height), he is generally considered obese. An adult with a Body Mass Index (BMI) between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight. A BMI is 30 or over is considered obese.[1]

Because ideal weights vary by age and gender, childhood obesity is normally determined using a modified BMI table. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) publishes a set of tables used to determine BMI percentages children and teens. In these tables, children whose weight is equal to or greater than the 95% bracket are considered obese.[2]

In addition, the term obese can be used in a more general way to simply mean the "excessive accumulation and storage of fat in the body".[3]


Physical and mental health related problems associated with obesity

See also: Physical and mental health related problems associated with obesity

Some of the medical conditions associated with obesity include: type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides, coronary artery disease (CAD), stroke, arthritis, cancer, sleep apnea, reproductive problems in women and varicose veins. Diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and CAD are most closely associated with unhealthy diets, while arthritis comes from the stress extra weight places on the body. Stokes, cancer, and reproductive problems less closely correlate with obesity. [4] In addition, medical science research indicates that excess weight impairs brain function.[5]

Medical science research indicates that excess weight impairs brain function.[6]

According to the Mayo Clinic some of the symptoms associated with obesity can include:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Snoring
  • Sleep apnea
  • Pain in your back or joints
  • Excessive sweating
  • Always feeling hot
  • Rashes or infection in folds of your skin
  • Feeling out of breath with minor exertion
  • Daytime sleepiness or fatigue
  • Depression[7]

Concerning the issue of depression, atheists do have higher rates of suicide than the general population. For more information please see: Atheism and depression and Atheism and suicide.

Obesity and Alzheimer's disease

See also: Obesity and Alzheimer's disease

File:PET Alzheimer.jpg
A PET scan of the brain of an individual with Alzheimer's disease reveals a loss of function in the temporal lobe.

In 2005, WebMD published:

People with diabetes are at particularly high risk of Alzheimer's disease. But now there's strong evidence that people with high insulin levels -- long before they get diabetes -- already are on the road to Alzheimer's disease.

As the body becomes more and more overweight, it becomes more and more resistant to the blood-sugar-lowering effects of insulin. To counter this insulin resistance, the body keeps making more insulin...

Insulin Triggers Amyloid Buildup

High insulin levels are known to cause blood vessels to become inflamed....

One dangerous effect of this insulin-caused brain inflammation is increased brain levels of beta-amyloid. Beta-amyloid is the twisted protein that's the main ingredient in the sticky plaques that clog the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease.

"What was striking was the magnitude of the effect," Craft tells WebMD. "Inflammation can be a result of amyloid elevations but can also create an environment in which amyloid is made more readily. Inflammation can be both the result and cause of amyloid production."[8]

A 2009 health report on a medical study indicated:

They compared the brain scan of 94 people in their 70s who were obese & overweight. They found that the obese had lost tissue in the frontal & temporal lobes areas critical for planning & memory. Declines were also seen in areas used for attention & executive functions, long term memory & movement

A neurologist Professor Paul Thompson said, “That's a big loss of tissue and it depletes your cognitive reserves, putting you at much greater risk of Alzheimer's and other diseases that attack the brain. But you can greatly reduce your risk for Alzheimer's if you can eat healthily and keep your weight under control.”M[9]

Health effects of Alzheimer's disease

See also: Effects of Alzheimer's disease on the brain

File:Temporal lobe animation small.gif
An animation of a human left temporal lobe (right is side similar).

(photo obtained from Wikimedia commons, see: license agreement)

Alzheimer's disease is "characterised by loss of neurons and synapses in the cerebral cortex and certain subcortical regions. This loss results in gross atrophy of the affected regions, including degeneration in the temporal lobe and parietal lobe, and parts of the frontal cortex and cingulate gyrus.[10] Some of the primary symptoms of Alzheimer's disease are: memory problems, mood swings, emotional outbursts, brain stem damage which impairs function in the heart, lungs plus causes disruption of various other bodily processes.[11]

An abstract of the medical study entitled Measures to Assess the Noncognitive Symptoms of Dementia in the Primary Care Setting by Brent P. Forester, M.D. and Thomas E. Oxman, M.D. inidcated "Noncognitive symptoms associated with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias include psychosis, mood disturbances, personality changes, agitation, aggression, pacing, wandering, altered sexual behavior, changed sleep patterns, and appetite disturbances. These noncognitive symptoms of dementia are common, disabling to both the patient and the caregiver, and costly."[12]

According to the Center for Neuro Skills:

Kolb & Wishaw (1990) have identified eight principle symptoms of temporal lobe damage: 1) disturbance of auditory sensation and perception, 2) disturbance of selective attention of auditory and visual input, 3) disorders of visual perception, 4) impaired organization and categorization of verbal material, 5) disturbance of language comprehension, 6) impaired long-term memory, 7) altered personality and affective behavior, 8) altered sexual behavior.[13]

Obesity, dementia, Alzheimer's disease and prevention

See also: Alzheimer's disease and prevention

Weili Xu, a researcher at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, declared: "Our results contribute to the growing evidence that controlling body weight or losing weight in middle age could reduce your risk of dementia".[14]

For more information please see: Alzheimer's disease and prevention


Obesity has many causes, including controllable personal choices such as overeating (gluttony) and/or lack of exercise. It can also be caused by improper hormone production or other malfunctions of various brain structures, including in particular the hypothalamus (site of the reward pathways, [this action=release of serotonin=feeling of pleasure]) and thyroid gland. A 2003 Duke University study shows a possible relationship between the number of children a person has and an increased risk of obesity. A woman's risk of obesity is raised 7% with each child; a man's risk is raised by 4%.[15]

Obesity is most dangerous among the children and the elderly, whose bones, livers, and lungs are too weak to deal with the excess weight and fat. Obesity can significantly shorten a person's lifespan.

Many in the medical establishment consider obesity to be an illness[16], in the sense that it is a serious medical condition, but disagree about the root causes of non-hormone related obesity. The medical world is nearly unanimously agreed that obesity is a big problem in the Western world, and in fact becoming a problem world wide.[17]

Liberals' answer to this problem has been to shift responsibility from those who are overeating (not including people with medical factors that cause the problems), to regulating how much fat can be in foods, what foods can be served at what restaurants, and trying to put financial penalties on restaurants that serve "fatty" foods.

Obesity in the United States

The incidence of obesity varies by region within the United States. In 2010, the five leanest states (that is, the states with the lowest rates of obesity) were Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, and Hawaii. The five states with the highest rates of obesity were Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, West Virginia,and Louisiana . [18] A recent study states that in 2010, the only state with less than a 20% obesity rate is Colorado. Twenty years ago, there were no states with an obesity rate higher than 15%.[19]

World issues on hunger vs. obesity

It has been noted that world obesity has risen, yet there is still an endless problem with starvation and hunger and malnutrition in both America and the world at large. A growing problem is food being horded and poorly distributed by groups like the United Nations, as well as poor food choices made by the less fortunate who would rather spend limited dollars on treat-like foods than on (admittedly harder to cook and less tasty, but better for you) choices like beans, rice, and canned vegetables. Liberals tend to deny the roles of personal choice and problems like greed in the UN, rather blaming the "establishment" for the entire problem of both hunger and obesity.

Psychology, obesity, religiosity and atheism

See also: Atheism and obesity and Psychology, obesity, religiosity and atheism and atheism and suicide

According to the Gallup Organization, "Very religious Americans are more likely to practice healthy behaviors than those who are moderately religious or nonreligious."[20] For more information please see: Atheism and obesity.

Many people overeat in response to negative emotions such as depression, anxiety and boredom.[21] Concerning atheism and mental and physical health, there is considerable amount of scientific evidence that suggest that theism is more conducive to mental and physical health than atheism. For example, atheists have higher rates of suicide than the general population. For more information, please see: Atheism and obesity.

Lesbianism and obesity

See also: Lesbianism and obesity and Homosexuality and obesity and gluttony

In April of 2007, the American Journal of Public Health analyzed data from 2002 National Survey of Family Growth and the data suggested that American lesbian women were 2.69 times more likely to be overweight and 2.47 times more likely to be obese than all other female sexual orientation groups. [22]

(photo obtained from Flickr, see license agreement)

Concerning lesbianism and obesity, in April of 2007, the American Journal of Public Health analyzed data from 2002 National Survey of Family Growth and the data suggested that American lesbian women were 2.69 times more likely to be overweight and 2.47 times more likely to be obese than all other female sexual orientation groups. [22] The abstract for this study indicated that "lesbians are at greater risk for morbidity and mortality linked to overweight and obesity." [22]

In 2009, the PubMed article abstract for the Polish psychiatry journal Psychiatria Polska article Body Image in Homosexual Persons declared:

Homosexual women are less concentrated on physical appearance and more satisfied with their bodies while being more tolerant to obesity.... For lesbian women the ideal body image is more massive than for heterosexual women.[23]

In 2007, a purported lesbian wrote to Andrew Sullivan, the political commentator and administrator of The Daily Dish blog:

And - oh heck, I'll admit it - aesthetics have value, too! As a woman, I may not be as focused on looks as men are predisposed to be, but I sure am tired of seeing so many queer ladies out there who are way past 200 pounds. Way, way past. Sorry, but no amount of "fat acceptance" is going to make that a pleasant sight - gay, straight, butch, femme, male or female.[24]

See also

External links

Weight loss resources and tips

Strength training and cardio exercise:

How much exercise is needed to lose weight and importance of one day of rest per week:

Documentary on weight loss:


Irvingia gabonensis:


  1. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/info/obesity/
  2. About BMI for Children and Teens
  3. Definition of obesity
  4. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/obesity/DS00314/DSECTION=symptoms
  5. Obesity and Alzheimer's: High Insulin Levels Linked to Alzheimer's
  6. Obese people are more at risk of Alzheimer’s
  7. http://www.news-medical.net/health/Neurodegeneration-in-Alzheimers-and-Parkinsons.aspx
  8. http://www.dementiacarecentral.com/node/559
  9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC419385/
  10. http://www.neuroskills.com/tbi/btemporl.shtml
  11. Obesity in Middle Age May Increase Risk of Dementia
  12. Number of Children Associated with Obesity in Middle-Aged Women and Men: Results from the Health and Retirement Study
  13. Is Obesity a Disease? Medical News Today
  14. "... when it comes to obesity—which dominates nutrition problems even in some of the poorest countries of the world—it is the calories that count." Eating Made Simple - Scientific American
  15. http://calorielab.com/news/2010/06/28/fattest-states-2010/
  16. More bad news about the obesity epidemic in-America
  17. http://www.gallup.com/poll/145379/Religious-Americans-Lead-Healthier-Lives.aspx
  18. http://www.obesitypsychiatry.com/id2.html
  19. 22.0 22.1 22.2 Overweight and Obesity in Sexual-Minority Women: Evidence From Population-Based Data, Ulrike Boehmer, Deborah J. Bowen, Greta R. Bauer, American Journal of Public Health, 2007 Jun;97(6):1134-40. E pub 2007 Apr 26.
  20. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19694404?itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum&ordinalpos=1
  21. http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2007/05/obesity_and_les.html
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