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Obesity is a disease where excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that health may be adversely affected.

The Body Mass Index (BMI), calculated as weight divided by the square of height, is the recommended index to define obesity.

Classification of BMI in Asian adults

Catergory BMI Risk of comorbidities
Underweight <18.5 Low
Normal weight 18.5 to 22.9 Average
Pre-obese 23 to 27.4 Increased
Obese Class I 27.5 to 32.4 Moderate
Obese Class II 32.5 to 37.4 Severe
Obese Class III >37.5 Very severe

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Obesity has been shown to predispose an individual to various diseases including:

  1. diabetes mellitus
  2. hypertension
  3. heart disease
  4. sleep apnea
  5. joint disorders

Patients who are morbidly obese (obese class III) have a much reduced life expectancy compared to people of normal weight.

Weight reduction can be achieved by various measures such as:

  1. diet therapy
  2. physical activity
  3. behaviour therapy
  4. pharmacotherapy
  5. bariatric (weight loss) surgery.

However, conservative treatment fails in more than 95% of morbidly obese patients.

Bariatric surgery, as part of a multi-disciplinary approach, is the most effective method to reduce weight and maintain weight loss in the morbidly obese.


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