Support for teenagers living with obesity
Obesity as a teenager can be hard to understand. Learn about the link between obesity and genetics, and how to speak to a doctor.
Obesity is a chronic disease that can seriously impact your quality of life and wellbeing. Here’s everything you need to know about obesity - including symptoms, diagnosis, and an accurate obesity definition.
Obesity is defined as a chronic disease characterized by an excess amount of body fat.
Obesity has been linked to other major chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. It can also be a serious condition in its own right. In most groups of people, a BMI equal to or more than 25 kg/m² represents an increased risk and requires additional evaluation. A BMI equal to or more than 30 kg/m² is associated with increased cardiovascular risk factors and mortality, so it should be used to screen for obesity.
One of the ways to classify obesity is by using the Body Mass Index (BMI). This is a calculation that takes your height and body weight into account. BMI is calculated by dividing weight in kilograms by the square of height in meters.
BMI is used to measure body fat and is an objective way to classify
underweight, overweight, and obesity in adults. If your BMI is equal
to or more than 30kg/m² you may be diagnosed as a person with obesity.
Within the official obesity definition, there are different
classifications of the disease.
|BMI Classification||Underweight - Below 18.5 kg/m²|
|Normal - 18.5–24.9 kg/m²|
|Overweight - 25.0–29.9 kg/m²|
|Obesity Class I - 30.0-34.9 kg/m²|
|Obesity Class II - 35.0–39.9 kg/m²|
|Obesity Class III - Above 40 kg/m²|
These classifications are a standardised measurement and form part of
an internationally recognised obesity definition.
In addition to a BMI greater than 30 kg/m², there are also other symptoms associated with obesity that can impact your ability to do certain activities. Here are some symptoms of obesity that you might notice in your day-to-day life:
If you're experiencing any of these symptoms of obesity, it's a good
idea to talk
to your doctor.
A formal obesity diagnosis may be an important step in treating and managing obesity and losing weight.
However, few patients get a formal obesity diagnosis and this can lead to barriers in getting the help you need. Research shows that only 55% of patients with BMI of 30 or above received a formal obesity diagnosis.
This may be because many doctors feel uncomfortable talking about obesity with their patients. It's important that you raise the issue with your doctor to begin moving forward with treating or managing obesity.
You can also find obesity care providers who are trained in obesity management to help make the process easier. They might do several things to make an obesity diagnosis, including asking questions about your medical history, a physical examination, and laboratory assessment.
The process might involve some or all of these steps.
To make an obesity diagnosis, your doctor might ask you some questions about your lifestyle, medical history, and family history.
This includes questions related to your:
These are all factors that are related to obesity and can be used to
understand possible causes
In addition to questions and discussing possible causes of obesity, your doctor may also give you a physical exam to help them identify any symptoms of obesity.
This might include:
The results of your physical exam can help your doctor make an
accurate obesity diagnosis based on the symptoms of obesity.
Your doctor may also want to do laboratory tests to identify any underlying symptoms of obesity.
Laboratory tests can be used to find out:
Your doctor will select which laboratory tests to run depending on
your specific case and can give you more information during your
Your doctor might also want to talk to you about your expectations and treatment options for managing symptoms of obesity.
This might include questions about how willing you are to manage weight, any previous treatments for the symptoms of obesity, and information on the benefits of weight loss.
They might also outline the health consequences of obesity and potential complications associated with the disease.
If you show that you’re motivated to manage weight, your doctor
might talk about introducing a diet plan and exercise program tailored
to your needs.
The cause of obesity is complex and linked to many different factors.
Obesity develops when the amount of calories you take in is higher than the amount of energy you expend. But, there is also growing evidence that obesity is caused by inherited traits that affect the mechanisms which regulate weight in the body.
In recent years, the official obesity definition has changed. Health
professionals now understand that the disease is influenced by a
complex mix of genetic,
environmental, and behavioral factors that contribute to symptoms of
People can have different ideas about what is considered an accurate obesity definition.
To understand if you are living with obesity and get a formal obesity diagnosis, it is important to talk to your doctor. They will be able to advise you on healthy ways to manage your weight and the symptoms of obesity.
Talk to your obesity care provider about treatment options that could prevent the weight you lose from coming back.