Weighing machine

Body Mass Index

Why is obesity the epidemic of the 21st century?

Obesity is a chronic condition caused by the accumulation of fat and subsequent weight gain. It affects both men and women and is related to excessive calorie intake and a sedentary lifestyle, although genetic predisposition plays a significant role. It is not only an aesthetic problem, but a serious condition that involves other illnesses, reduces life expectancy and represents a problem for normal activities and social relationships.

According to the World Health Organisation, one billion adults are overweight and more than 300 million are obese.

Obesity has been described as the epidemic of the 21st century because it is one of the health problems that has a greatest impact worldwide and appears at increasingly young ages. Obesity is usually diagnosed and classified by calculating the Body Mass Index, by dividing the weight in kilograms by the square of the height in metres (kg/m2). The value obtained shows the degree of obesity, with patients with a BMI of 30 or more being classified as obese. In patients with a BMI of more than 40, obesity is classified as severe and has a significant impact on health.

Morbid obesity is accompanied by other conditions or risk factors, known as metabolic syndrome: diabetes, dyslipidaemia (altered cholesterol and triglycerides), hypertension and an abdominal perimeter of more than 104 cm. Some patients also present sleep apnoea, fertility disorders and arthritis, among other conditions.

The most appropriate treatment is determined after a thorough assessment of the patients. Personalised low-calorie diets supervised by nutritionists and endocrinologists can be effective in patients with a BMI of less than 30, providing they are accompanied by controlled physical exercise and a change of habits. Even so, many patients seek alternatives to nutritional treatment after several unsuccessful attempts. Endoscopic techniques (intragastric balloon and POSE) and bariatric surgery (sleeve gastrectomy, bypass and gastric band) are the best alternatives, although appropriate nutritional conduct continues to be essential.