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About Obesity

Obesity is a disorder that involves excessive body fat. The body mass index (BMI) is frequently used to calculate whether or not you are of normal weight, overweight, or obese. If you have a BMI of 25-29, you are overweight. A BMI of 30 or higher indicates obesity.

Obesity doesn’t just affect the way you look. Holding excess fat in the internal organs can cause serious medical problems and adversely impact your quality of life.

Complications that may be caused by obesity include:
  • Heart disease
  • Strokes
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cancer (especially cancers of the internal organs)
  • Sleep apnea (potentially life-threatening breathing problems when sleeping)
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Liver problems
  • Osteoarthritis (damage to the joints)
  • Gout

In addition to these medical problems, obesity can make it difficult to go about your daily tasks. Many people who struggle with obesity also experience symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as feelings of social isolation due to an inability to perform physical activities that others are able to do.

Obesity has many causes, the most essential being an intake of more calories than the body burns. If you take in more calories than you burn during the day, your body begins to store these excess calories as fat. Exercise and eating habits play crucial roles in the development of obesity.

Other risk factors for obesity include:

- Genetics: Your genetics may determine the speed at which your metabolism converts food to energy, how much body fat you store, and where that fat is stored. Additionally, many people develop their relationship to nutrition and exercise through their families. If your family has a history of low activity levels or eating unhealthy foods, you may develop similar practices.

- Environment: Lifestyle behaviors, your social circle, and your community can all affect your weight. If you go out to eat often, or if you do not have access to healthy foods, you may be at a greater risk of obesity. Alcohol use can also contribute to obesity, as many alcoholic drinks are high-calorie.

- Stress: Emotional stress can lead someone to overeat or eat “comfort” foods that are high in calories. Depression, anxiety, and boredom can lead to binge eating or an increase in unhealthy eating habits.

- Medical conditions: Certain medications and medical conditions can increase your risk of obesity. Antidepressants, steroids, and anti-seizure medication can all lead to weight gain. Common medical conditions that may cause weight gain include arthritis, hypothyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome, and depression. Similarly, pregnancy can cause weight gain which some women struggle to lose after giving birth.

Obesity can be difficult to address. However, if you are struggling with weight gain, talk to your health care provider about methods to safely lose excess body fat.

Treatment Options

Below are common treatment methods for obesity and weight control. During your appointment, talk to your health care provider about what treatment plan is right for you.

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