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An individual is classed as being 'normal' weight, overweight or obese depending on the degree of fat in one's body. They form a continuum

Overweight is the term given when the degree of 'fatness' is greater than normal, but less than obesity.

For clinical purposes fatness is measured by a ratio called body mass index (BMI). 

For Asian Indians, the upper limit of normal BMI* is 23

Between 23 and 24.9 it is called overweight, and equal to or above 25 is obesity

*BMI is calculated as the weight in kilogram divided by the height expressed in meters (kg/m squared)

Essentially, body weight depends on the net balance between the energy a person ingests and the energy that is expended. This is a bald statement much like saying 'to win an election all one has to do is get one vote more than all other contestants'

It is difficult to put the principle into practice: viz, to lose weight, reduce the energy consumed, along with increase in energy that is expended.

The body has a complex network that resists a net negative balance of energy

Yet, in the absence of safe and effective alternatives one tries to reduce the amount of food one consumes, which is the most important part of a weight loss programme.

Physical exercise helps in maintaining the lost weight. 

Without controlling ones diet, it is practically not possible to lose weight by physical exercise alone

In rare conditions where the increased weight is a result of other underlying diseases, correcting them might lower the body weight. Such rare conditions are 'rare'

When the body weight is so high (eg BMI=>40, or it is =>35, along with other disorders (eg type 2 diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, heart disease etc, bariatric surgery may be performed

One must realise that bariatric surgery is not a golden bullet; it is associated with risks of surgery as well as other potential metabolic problems

A considered decision must be made with a detailed discussion with the health care team

Also remember that the BMI assumes a higher number is fat. In some cases it may not be: eg professional athletes with a lot of muscle may meet the BMI criteria without being overweight or obese; similarly when there is deem (excess fluid in the body as in renal or heart failure), the BMI criteria fails

See Medical Links page for more information on this subject

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