Overweight and obesity are terms that refer to excess body fat which is calculated by body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference. Overweight and obesity are significant health issues for adults across the life course and into old age. Carrying excess weight can have significant implications for an individual’s physical and mental health. There isn’t a single intervention that can tackle obesity on its own, at population or at an individual level. There are many interacting causes of obesity including biological; physiological; psychosocial; behavioural; and environmental factors.
Our environment tends to encourage unhealthy lifestyle choices relating to food and physical activity. Unhealthy food and drink choices (including alcohol) are easy to access and often high energy. We also tend to be less active and lead more sedentary lifestyles than previous generations.
Being overweight or obese is linked to a wide range of diseases, most commonly: type 2 diabetes; hypertension; some cancers; heart disease; stroke; and liver disease. Obesity can also be associated with poor psychological and emotional health, and poor sleep. Obese adults may also be more likely to suffer from stigma which may impact on their self-esteem.
Individuals who could benefit from losing weight may take time to find the right solution for them; like quitting smoking, achieving and maintaining a healthier weight sometimes takes multiple attempts to find the way that works best for the individual and there isn’t a single solution that works for everyone. A healthier weight is primarily achieved and maintained through improving dietary intake, portion control and being more physically active.