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NutriHealth FAQs

Obesity What is Obesity?

Obesity is no longer considered a cosmetic issue that is caused by overeating and a lack of self-control. The World Health Organization (W.H.O.), along with National and International medical and scientific societies, now recognize obesity as a chronic progressive disease resulting from multiple environmental and genetic factors.

The disease of obesity is extremely costly not only in terms of economics, but also in terms of individual and societal health, longevity, and psychological well-being. Due to its progressive nature, obesity requires life-long treatment and control.

According to the W.H.O., 65 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight. Approximately 500 million adults in the world are affected by obesity and one billion are affected by overweight, along with 48 million children.

In the United States, epidemiological data from an ongoing study that measures the actual body size of thousands of Americans, show that 34 percent of adults more than 20 years old are affected by obesity and 68 percent are overweight (2007-2008 data). Obesity affects 10 percent of children between two and five years of age, 2 percent of those between 6 to 11 years old, and 18 percent of adolescents.

How do I know if I suffer from obesity?

The disease of obesity is characterized by an excessive accumulation of body fat. A variety of instruments are available for assessing the amount of fat versus lean tissue in the body. However, due to the expense of these instruments and the time required for body fat assessments, obesity is clinically defined by measures that ‘estimate’ adiposity from body weight, body build, and height.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

The body mass index (BMI) is another measure used to define overweight and obesity and is considered a more accurate estimate of body fatness. BMI takes into consideration an individual’s height and weight and can be determined by using a BMI chart or can be calculated by using a BMI calculator.

Calculate your BMI here

Body size categories using BMI have been based upon the range of BMI associated with a certain risk for mortality. The categories and respective BMI categories are:


Normal Size


Class I, Obesity

Class II, Serious Obesity

Class III, Severe Obesity

BMI Range

18.9 to 24.9

25 to 29.9

30 to 34.9

35 to 39.9

40 and greater

What causes obesity? Is it as simple as lack of self-control?

Obesity is considered a multifactorial disease with a strong genetic component. Acting upon a genetic background are a number of hormonal, metabolic, psychological, cultural and behavioral factors that promote fat accumulation and weight gain.

A positive energy balance causes weight gain and occurs when the number of calories consumed (energy intake) exceeds the number of calories the body uses (energy expenditure) in the performance of basic biological functions, daily activities, and exercise. A positive energy balance may be caused by overeating or by not getting enough physical activity. However, there are other conditions that affect energy balance and fat accumulation that do not involve excessive eating or sedentary behavior. These include:

  1. Chronic sleep loss
  2. Consumption of foods that, independent of caloric content, cause metabolic/hormonal changes that may increase body fat. These include foods high in sugar or high fructose corn syrup, processed grains, fat, and processed meats
  3. Low intake of fat-fighting foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, quality protein
  4. Stress and psychological distress)
  5. Many types of medications
  6. Various pollutants

Is obesity progressive?

Weight gain is yet another contributor to weight gain or, in other words, obesity ‘begets’ obesity, which is one of the reasons the disease is considered ‘progressive’. Weight gain causes a number of hormonal, metabolic and molecular changes in the body that increase the risk for even greater fat accumulation. Such obesity-associated biological changes reduce the body’s ability to oxidize (burn) fat for energy, increase the conversion of glucose (carbohydrate) to fat, and increase the body’s capacity to store fat in fat storage depots (adipose tissue). This means that more of the calories consumed will be stored as fat. To make matters worse, obesity affects certain regulators of appetite and hunger in a manner that can lead to an increase in meal size and the frequency of eating. Weight gain, therefore, changes the biology of the body in a manner that favors further weight gain and obesity.

How does obesity affect someone's health?

Being obese can cause a variety of health issues

Obesity-related health problems adults can face include:

  • abnormal levels of blood fats
  • cancer
  • chronic kidney disease
  • coronary heart disease
  • diabetes
  • gallstones
  • gout
  • high blood pressure
  • metabolic syndrome
  • obesity hypoventilation syndrome
  • osteoarthritis
  • reproductive problems
  • respiratory disease
  • sleep apnea
  • stroke

Obesity also can have negative effects on someone’s mental health, according to the NIH.

How does sugar affect someone's health?

Though sugar itself isn’t bad for people, consuming too much has become a norm that can cause health issues.

Americans are eating and drinking too much sugar, especially sugars that are not naturally found in foods, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The only type of sugar the body needs is glucose, which it can make by breaking down carbohydrates, proteins and fats, according to the NIH.

Studies have found that excess sugar in food can cause obesity and cardiovascular problems, according to the NIH.

How is the NutriHealth medically managed weight loss program different from other diets?

The NutriHealth Medical Weight Loss program is different from other diets because it empowers you to focus on nutritional, behavioral and lifestyle changes based on scientifically proven methods. Rather than being a fad diet that only has a goal of weight loss, our program combines nutrition, fitness, behavioral therapy, medication and education to help you have successful long-term weight management.

What are steps people can take - both kids and adults - to break unhealthy habits that lead to obesity?

To help break unhealthy habits that lead to obesity, you can start by setting both smaller, short-term goals and larger, long-term goals.

When you make even small changes, they can add up to a surprisingly big change in your health, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).

NutriHealth professionals say both adults and children can break some unhealthy habits by changing the way they manage food, physical activity, and stress in their lives.

You can change unhealthy lifestyle habits little by little by replacing them with easy to manage, enjoyable alternatives.

With food, you can plan ahead to have fresh, healthy snacks on hand, and eliminate sugary, high-fat foods and drinks.

Make time to eat together as a family, and model healthy eating habits for children.

Limit screen time and replace it with physical activity. Instead of watching a movie or texting, enjoy the outdoors, and do something active together.

Relieve stress by planning enjoyable activities, such as get-togethers with family, reading, meeting up with friends, listening to music, and being outside.

What is the connection between lifestyle and obesity?

Our daily lifestyle choices have a direct connection to whether or not we are prone to facing obesity.

Poor sleeping habits, lack of physical activity, excessive stress, and poor eating habits all have been shown to lead to obesity, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).

Can artificial sweeteners cause someone to crave sweet foods?

Though artificial sweeteners are marketed to help keep you from eating and drinking too much sugar, they might be making your craving for sweets even stronger, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Studies have shown it is possible that the very strong sweet taste of artificial sweeteners can lead people to have a “sweet tooth,” according to the NIH. This can lead to overeating and eating sugary sweets you might have otherwise avoided, according to the NIH.