General Practice 2022

Main types of obesity and how to identify

Table of contents:

Main types of obesity and how to identify
Main types of obesity and how to identify

Obesity is characterized by overweight, usually caused by a sedentary lifestyle and exaggerated consumption of foods rich in fat and sugar, which generates several harms in the person's life, such as the development of diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attack or osteoarthritis of the bones, in addition to symptoms such as difficulty in exerting, indisposition and low self-esteem.

To identify that a person is obese, most of the time, the BMI, or body mass index, is used, which is a calculation that analyzes the weight that the person presents in relation to their height, being divided in different degrees:

  • Normal weight: BMI between 18.0 to 24.9 kg/m2
  • Overweight: BMI between 25.0 to 29.9 kg/m2
  • Obesity grade 1: BMI between 30.0 - 34.9 kg/m2;
  • Obesity grade 2: BMI between 35.0 - 39.9 kg/m2;
  • Obesity grade 3 or morbid obesity: BMI equal to or greater than 40 kg/m2.

To find out your BMI, enter your data into the calculator:

Types of obesity

In addition to being classified according to weight, obesity also varies according to the location and distribution of fat throughout the body:

1. Abdominal obesity

Fat is mainly deposited in the abdomen and waist, and can also be distributed over the chest and face. This type of obesity is also known as android or apple-shaped obesity, due to the similarity of the person's silhouette to this fruit, and it is more common in men, although some women can have it as well.

Abdominal obesity is closely associated with a high risk of developing other cardiovascular diseases such as high cholesterol, heart disease, heart attack, as well as diabetes, inflammation and thrombosis.

2. Peripheral obesity

This type of obesity is more common in women, as the fat is located more in the thighs, hips and buttocks, and is known as pear obesity, due to the shape of the silhouette, or gynoid obesity.

Peripheral obesity is more associated with circulatory problems, such as venous insufficiency and varicose veins, and knee osteoarthritis, due to weight overload in these joints, although it also increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

3. Homogeneous obesity

In this case, there is no predominance of fat in a localized area, as the excess weight is distributed throughout the body. This can be dangerous, as the person can be careless because it doesn't have a big impact on physical appearance, like other types.

Signs and symptoms of obesity

Excess fat has negative effects on the entire body, causing uncomfortable signs and symptoms such as:

  • Shortness of breath and breathing difficulties, due to the pressure of abdominal weight on the lungs;
  • Body pain, especially in the back, legs, knees and shoulders, due to the excessive effort that the body makes to support the weight;
  • Difficulty exercising or walking, due to excess weight and deconditioning of the body;
  • Dermatitis and fungal infections, due to the accumulation of sweat and dirt in the folds of the body;
  • Dark spots on the skin, mainly neck, armpits and groin, a reaction caused by insulin resistance, or pre-diabetes, called acanthosis nigricans;
  • Impotence and infertility, due to hormonal changes and difficulties with blood flow in the vessels;
  • Nocturnal snoring and sleep apnea, due to the accumulation of fat in the neck and airways;
  • Increased tendency to varicose veins and venous ulcers, due to changes in vessels and blood circulation;
  • Anxiety and depression, due to dissatisfaction with body image and binge eating.

In addition, obesity is a determining cause of several diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, thrombosis, and impotence, and metabolic diseases, such as diabetes and high cholesterol.

What causes obesity

Obesity can occur at any age and, in Brazil, the number of people who go through this situation is increasing, due to the excessive consumption of caloric foods, such as bread, pasta, sweets, fast food and foods ready-to-eat foods, in addition to a sedentary lifestyle, which causes the amount of calories consumed to be greater than the amount a person spends throughout the day.

In addition, hormonal disorders or emotional problems such as anxiety or nervousness can also increase the risk of obesity and, therefore, these situations should be treated as soon as they are identified. Understand better what are the main causes that explain the emergence of obesity and how to fight them.

Child obesity has also been increasingly frequent, due to the excess of industrialized foods, sweets and soft drinks, in addition to less and less outdoor activities. The child usually follows the habits of the parents, so it is very common that the children of obese people also become overweight.

How to know if I am very overweight

The main way to detect obesity is with the BMI calculation, however, in addition to the increased weight, it is also important to identify the fat deposit in different parts of the body, differentiating the weight in fat from the weight in muscles.

So, as a way of evaluating the body's fat mass and its distribution, we use:

  • Measurement of skinfold thickness: measures the fat located in the deposits under the skin, which is related to the amount of internal fat;
  • Bioimpedance: exam that analyzes body composition, indicating the approximate amount of muscles, bones and fat in the body. Understand better when it is indicated and how bioimpedance works;
  • Ultrasonography, tomography or magnetic resonance: evaluate the thickness of adipose tissue in the folds, and also in deeper tissues in different body regions, such as the abdomen, so they are good methods to assess abdominal obesity;
  • Measurement of abdominal circumference: identifies the deposit of fat in the abdomen and the risk of developing abdominal obesity, being classified as having this type of obesity when the waist measurement exceeds 94 cm for men and 80 cm for women;

  • Abdominal/hip circumference ratio: measures the relationship between abdominal and hip circumference, assessing differences in patterns of fat accumulation and the risk of developing obesity, being high when above 0.90 for men and 0.85 for women. Find out how you can measure your waist-hip ratio.

Ideally, these evaluations and measurements should be made by the nutritionist or doctor, to correctly identify the amount of fat that the person needs to eliminate and program an ideal treatment.

How to treat obesity

Obesity treatment should be done with regular physical exercise, guided by a physical trainer, and a weight loss diet, guided by a nutritionist, and should be done gradually and he althy, because the diets that promise a very fast weight loss, generally, do not bring lasting effects or are harmful to he alth.

Check out some tips to adjust your diet, in a natural and he althy way, to reach the goal of losing weight:

Drugs to lose weight can also be used in the treatment of obesity, however, their use should only be done under the guidance of an endocrinologist. In the most serious cases, you can still resort to some types of surgery such as bariatric surgery. Find out how obesity treatment is done and when medication or surgery is indicated.

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