“Obesity isn’t about body size, it’s about fat percentage” – Health experts clarify

Deborah Yakohene
Deborah Yakohene
5 Min Read

A health expert, Seidu Alhassan, has debunked the perception of obesity being associated with body size, rather clarifying how obesity involves fat percentage in the body.

Seidu Alhassan was speaking on Campus Exclusive, touching on the topic of misconceptions, health risks and management measures associated with obesity.

According to him, the determination of obesity in an individual is not about a person’s body size, but about the fat percentage in the body.

“The perception that when you are obese – it means you are very big, that’s not what is obesity in the first place. Obesity is just talking about the percentage of fat that is accumulated in the human body. It is it could be seen in one perspective as a medical condition but also as a risk factor for development of certain illnesses as well.”

“You can’t just see the person and say that this person is obese, there are certain criteria that is used to determine that. For instance, when you see a lean person and a very huge person, you’ll be shocked if you go and do chemical analysis of the lipid profile; this lean person [is likely] to have more fat accumulated than that fat person.”

Seidu Alhassan added that obesity can be genetic in nature, being passed down in a family.

“One can be genetics. That is a family with a history of obesity. It could be a problem that runs to the family.”

To add to Seidu’s statements on the show, Nursing Officer at the 37 Teaching Hospital, Reginald Avanyo, spoke on how genetics leads to the occurrence of obesity in the human body.

“When you have a disorder of these particular [metabolic] genes, your system might not be breaking down food as fast as it should, meaning that excess will be stored; you might be at a significantly higher risk than someone who has a normal metabolism.”

He further explains how obesity puts an individual at risk of getting certain chronic diseases, while also touching on the stigma associated with the condition.

“There’s a lot of stigma around this condition. I mean if we are sitting here and you couldn’t enter the chair, it’s already stressful. If you have low metabolic rates, it’s already established that your system does not break down the food that you eat so fast enough to allow you to function normally. So, then the excess is deposited around your skin, around your liver, your heart, and even your blood vessels, giving you the hypertension, stroke and all these other diseases.”

In addressing the issue of obesity, Reginald noted the use of diet and exercise as ways to effectively reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

He put strong emphasis on avoiding food products that contain comparatively high levels of sugar and glucose.

“You should get a bit active, a bit of exercise; it goes a long way to help, not only in your weight but in terms of your cardio function, in terms of your overall health. You should probably work on your beverages or your sugar-coated drinks; that’s also another contributing factor to [obesity]. The more you take in this sugar-coated [food products], the glucose is converted into fats and stored around in your body and this storage of fats is what gives you the obesity and then the overweightness.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), overweight and obesity are characterized by the abnormal or excessive accumulation of fat that can jeopardize health. Obesity, which is an aspect of malnutrition was commonly found in developed countries but has also been recently found in low-income and middle-income countries, hence increasing its rate globally.

The increase of global obesity rate was attributed to the growing consumption of energy-dense foods high in fat and free sugars and a decrease in physical activity due to the changing nature of many types of work, more access to transportation and increased urbanization.

Lowering the risk of overweight and obesity includes reducing the number of calories consumed from fats and sugars, increasing the portion of daily intake of fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts, and engaging in regular physical activity.

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