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Obesity is a complex condition. One out of every three adults is obese in the US.


Obesity is a complex disease that includes an excessive accumulation of body fat. Obesity is not just an aesthetic concern. It is a medical problem that increases the risk of contracting other diseases and health problems, such as heart conditions, diabetes, high blood pressure, and some types of cancer.

There are many reasons why some people have difficulty avoiding obesity. Usually, it is the result of a combination of hereditary factors, combined with the environment, type of diet, and exercise habits.


Although genetic, behavioral, metabolic, hormonal factors impact body weight, obesity occurs when calorie intake exceeds those burned during exercise and daily activity—the body stores excess calories as fat.

Most North American diets are excessive in calories, mostly due to fast food and highly caloric beverages. People with obesity may ingest excess calories before feeling satisfied, getting hungry sooner, or eating due to stress or anxiety.


Obesity is diagnosed when the body mass index (BMI) is 30 or higher. To determine the body mass index, weight must be divided in kilograms by the square of height in meters.

              BMI                                                     Weight Status

Below 18.5


De 18.5 a 24.9


De 25.0 a 29.9


30 o más


For most people, BMI provides a reasonable estimate of body fat. However, BMI does not directly measure body fat, and for some people, such as heavily muscled athletes, they may have a BMI within the obesity range, even when they do not have excess body fat.

Risk Factors

Obesity is usually the result of a combination of several causes and factors, such as the ones mentioned below:

  • Family heritage and influence
  • Lifestyle, such as an unhealthy diet. For these purposes, an unhealthy diet is considered high in calories and deficient in fruits and vegetables, including high levels of fast food and excessive portions, as well as the consumption of sugary and highly caloric drinks
  • Sedentarism
  • Some diseases. In the case of diseases such as arthritis in which physical activity is affected, it can contribute to reducing physical activity, which can result in weight gain
  • Certain medications. Some medications can contribute to weight gain, if not compensated by diet and exercise. These medications include antidepressants, anticonvulsants, drugs to treat diabetes, antipsychotics, steroids, and beta-blockers
    Social and economic factors. Without access to safe areas for walking or exercising, it is difficult to avoid obesity. Similarly, if healthy cooking methods were not learned, or if they did not have access to healthy food. If family or friends suffer from obesity, they are more likely to develop it
    Age. Obesity can occur at any age, including young children. However, as age increases, hormonal changes and less physical activity increases the risk of obesity. The amount of muscle mass in the body decreases with age, and less muscle mass leads to a slow metabolism
  • Pregnancy. Weight gain is typical during pregnancy, and some women may find it difficult to ask for the extra weight when the baby is born. Breastfeeding may be the best option to lose the weight gained during pregnancy
  • Sleep disturbances, which affect appetite, and sometimes leads to cravings for highly caloric foods
  • Stress. Increased appetite for anxiety or stress can cause more calories to be consumed than necessary
  • Previous attempts to lose weight


To diagnose obesity, the Internist will perform a physical exam and blood tests, which usually include:

  • Talk about health history. The doctor will review weight history, weight loss efforts, physical activity, eating patterns and appetite control, medications taken, stress levels, etc

  • Practice a general physical exam, which includes taking height, checking vital signs such as heart rate, pressure, and temperature. Also, listen to the heart and lungs and abdominal examination

  •  Measure the waist circumference 

  • Review other related medical problems

  • Blood tests


The goal of the treatment to combat obesity is to reach and maintain a healthy weight. This dramatically improves health and decreases the risk of developing other complications. In addition to the Internal Medicine specialist, it is possible that other health professionals are involved in the process, including the Nutritionist, possibly the Endocrinologist and sometimes the participation of the obesity specialist or Bariatric Surgeon is required.

A weight loss program requires changes in eating habits and increased physical activity. The ideal treatment methods for each person depending on the severity of obesity, general health, and willingness to make changes during the plan. There is no foolproof method for weight loss. Choose the one that includes healthy foods that you feel work for you. Diet changes to treat obesity include:

  • Calorie decrease

  • Feeling satisfied with less food. Choosing fruits and vegetables provides larger servings with fewer calories

  • Make healthy choices, like fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain carbohydrates. Also include good sources of protein, such as beans, lentils, soy, and lean meats. If you eat fish, it is recommended to include it twice a week. Eat small portions of fat, and make sure they are heart-healthy options, such as olive, canola, or walnut oils

  • Restrict certain foods such as those high in fat and carbohydrates, and sugary drinks 

  • Food replacement. These plans suggest replacing one or two meals with certain products, such as low-calorie shakes or high-protein bars and healthy snacks. Keep in mind that these weight loss programs will not teach you how to make changes in your lifestyle and diet

  • Increasing physical activity and exercise is an essential part of a weight loss program. Accompany changes in diet and exercise with therapy by a professional or support group 

  • Prescription drugs in some instances 

  • Non-surgical endoscopic procedures 

  • Weight loss surgery called bariatric surgery 

There are no miracle foods or remedies for weight loss. Your doctor or Nutritionist will take you on the right path, showing you the solutions according to your case.

Living with Obesity

The good news is that even a small weight loss can improve or prevent the problems associated with obesity. Changes in the diet, increasing physical activity, and behavior changes will contribute to your weight loss. Learning about obesity, making lifestyle improvements, setting realistic goals, and recording all progress will also help you feel more motivated to follow the plan and reach your goal.

Visit to your Medical Internist Doctor or Nutritionist, to start a plan as soon as possible, and improve your health!

When should I visit the Doctor?

If you are concerned about problems with your weight, start by asking your Internal Medicine Doctor. After doing some blood tests, this may possibly refer you to an Endocrinologist and you will also require visiting the Nutritionist to find the necessary balance in your diet. In certain cases, a Bariatric Surgeon can offer you alternatives to your situation. With the help of the professional, you can assess the health risks and analyze the different options for losing weight.

When consulting your Endocrinologist, try to keep a record of the discomfort caused by being overweight, the lifestyle and diet you are currently carrying, and any medications you are taking. 

Obesity and overweight can be tackle by improving lifestyle and eating habits, and with the help of specialists, your goals will be easier to achieve.

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