What is Obesity?

Weight that is higher than what is considered a healthy weight for a given height is described as overweight or obese. Obesity is typically defined as occurring those individuals with a BMI greater than or equal to 30, where BMI is defined as weight (in pounds) divided by height2 (in inches) times 704.5. Obesity is associated with a number of negative health outcomes, including:

  • Increased rates of death (aka reduced life expectancy)
  • Higher blood pressure
  • Higher rates of LDL (aka bad) cholesterol and higher rates of triglycerides
  • Lower rates of HDL (aka good) cholesterol
  • Increased incidence of Type 2 diabetes
  • Increased risk of coronary heart disease
  • Increased risk of stroke
  • Increased risk of Gallbladder disease
  • Increased risk of osteoarthritis
  • Increase incidence of sleep apnea and breathing problems
  • Increased risk of cancer, including endometrial, breast, colon, kidney, gallbladder and liver
  • Lower quality of life
  • Increased risk of clinical depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses and disorders
  • Increases in body pain and difficulty with physical functioning

Is Obesity Really an Environmental Factor?

We chose to include obesity in this app for two reasons:

  1. Obesity can be caused by certain physical environmental features of a geography such as an absence of parks, playgrounds and sidewalks, as well as a lack of density making walking more difficult.
  2. In addition, certain research has shown that obesity is “contagious” in that if your friend becomes obese, you are more likely to become obese as well. While this phenomenon is controversial and not fully understood, one possible theory is that the healthiness of those around us influences our own body image.
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