What Does Being ‘Obese’ Mean?
All the answers about “obesity” being defined as a particular BMI number (it can be), and obesity being excessive adipose tissue (this is also true), and obesity being a risk factor for multiple other medical problems (correct again), are all correct, however like all things in life, it’s a little bit more complicated than that.
Debating The Fat
There are various ways of measuring body fat, that measure different “types” of body fat, and they may not all agree. Simple home or local gym methods are calipers - easy to use, and require some training to give consistency and accuracy. Then there’s bioelectric impedance- those stand-on scales that give you body fat estimates along with your weight. They are cool, but very susceptible to inaccuracies due to your hydration levels, sweating (taking measurements right after a workout will change your results, as will recent eating, etc.). Hydrostatic weighting is very accurate for total body fat, but doesn't give information about where it all is. DEXAscans are accurate and are able to localise fat deposits, but expose the patient to a fair amount of X-ray radiation. I definitely wouldn’t be checking my body fat by this method on a regular basis. Air displacement plethysmography, 3D body scans, and MRIs can all be used to give high tech measurements of body fat.
Breaking Down The Fat
While BMI is commonly used to define obesity, defining obesity by BMI alone is misleading, because if you have a lot of muscle on your frame, your BMI will be higher than normal but your body fat percentage may not be.
Then there is the confounder that not all kinds of “obesity” carry the same risks. “Truncal obesity” - a higher level of central or abdominal fat accumulation- conveys higher risks of sleep apnea syndrome (with all of its associated risks), and cardiovascular diseases.
If we were concerned about insulin resistance and the risk of diabetes in our overweight population, we would be concerned about “visceral fat”. That is defined as fat accumulation around the internal organs. So two patients could have the same BMI, but if one has more visceral adipose tissue, they are at more risk for atherosclerosis, clotting problems, strokes and heart attacks, metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
In women, accumulation of fat around the thighs and hips, while often not considered to be esthetically pleasing, if it is not accompanied by increased visceral fat, actually is associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.
How to Lose Weight?
For more information on how to lose weight, take a look at the NHS website, which has a plethora of methods to use that can tackle and help with your weight loss journey. Cloud Pharmacy also offers treatments to help you lose weight, that have been shown to work well with a good diet and exercise. All you have to do is complete an online consultation, which is reviewed by our UK doctors and your item will be sent to you in discreet packaging should you qualify for treatment.