The world's oldest known metabolic disorder, and the only one in which America has the highest percentage of sufferers, at about 25%. Obesity occurs when energy intake outstrips energy release, and is characterized by a grossly overweight body.

There is no single cause for obesity, but it could be due to genetic, psychological, or cultural factors that govern either metabolism or self-image. Obesity is most likely to strike in Americans with below-average education and income. There is evidence for genetic factors as well; orphans of obese parents placed in the care of non-obese fostor homes are more likely to become obese than other orphans.

The best way to test for obesity is not to compare yourself to models in Cosmopolitan, but to take your body mass index, which is equal to your weight in kilos divided by the square of your height in meters, or w/(h^2). If the number is between 22 and 25, you're in the safest group. If it's above 27, you're at risk, and if it's above 30, you're in trouble. But don't jump to conclusions, because atheletes with low body fat can get false high numbers by this measurement. Body fat percentage is measured cheaply and innacurately by skin fold measurement, or more reliably through expensive measures such as weighing the body while submerged in water, or testing for Xenon displacement.

Obesity carries serious health risks, that increase non-linearly with increasing weight. These risks include:

  1. Coronary Artery Disease
  2. An increased chance of a stroke
  3. Gall Bladder Disease
  4. A general increase in the likelihood of death from other causes.
  5. And especially diabetes and hypertension.
Diabetes is such a high risk because the large amounts of fat cause an increased demand for insulin in the body, and sometimes even cause a resistance to insulin to build up.

To avoid obesity, says that it's best to keep active, get some exercise two or three times a week, and to avoid excess alcohol consumption, stress, boredom, depression, frustration, and poor eating habits. In other words, to avoid obesity, don't work with computers. Don't eat foods with a lot of fat or sugar either.

Treatment of obesity comes in many forms, depending on your philosophy. You can take drugs that will aid in weight loss (The kind perscribed by your doctor, not the kind that you see advertised in spam or tabloids. And not caffeine pills either.), or you can joing a support group, or you can even have liposuction and a tummy tuck in extreme cases. And then there are those far-out wackos who actually believe that a good diet and regular exercise has some effect on obesity.

Thanks to and, both of which have a lot more useful information than i wanted to transcribe here.