In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan.


Obesity is the excessive or abnormal accumulation of fat or adipose tissue in the body that impairs health via its association with the risk of development of diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia. It is a significant public health epidemic which has progressively worsened over the past 50 years. Obesity is a complex disease and has a multifactorial etiology. It is the second most common cause of preventable death after smoking. Obesity needs multiprong treatment strategies and may require lifelong treatment. A 5% to 10% weight loss can significantly improve health, quality of life, and economic burden of an individual and a country as a whole.

Obesity has enormous healthcare costs exceeding $700 billion each year. The economic burden is estimated to be about $100 billion annually in the United States alone. The body mass index (BMI) is used to define obesity, which is calculated as weight (kg)/height(m). While the BMI does correlate with body fat in a curvilinear fashion, it may not be as accurate in Asians and older people, where a normal BMI may conceal underlying excess fat. Obesity can also be estimated by assessing skin thickness in the triceps, biceps, subscapular, and supra-iliac areas. Dural energy radiographic absorptiometry (DEXA) scan may also be used to assess fat mass.

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