Dangerous Curves: How Obesity Really Affects the Body

Obesity is a sensitive subject within the curvy community; most often our energy is directed toward fighting society's ridiculous standards of beauty or defending our humanity in a world that considers plus-size bodies "abnormal".

There comes a time though, when self-reflection, self-care, and self-love needs to become our main priorities. 

This obesity discussion has nothing to do with trying to reach a certain aesthetic, and everything to do with health, wellness, and overall quality of life.

We are pro-health. Always. 

It is surely possible to have a healthy curvy body.  

However, we'd be terribly remiss if we didn't talk about the dangers associated with excessive body weight/fat coupled with poor nutrition or inadequate exercise.

What is Obesity? And who fits the description?

The medical definition of obesity is:

an excessive amount of body fat, which makes the body more susceptible to certain diseases and health problems.

It is often diagnosed when an individual's body mass index (BMI) exceeds a set point (approx. 30).

BMI does have its limitations. It is not the most accurate measurement of body fat at all, but it is used by many medical professionals to determine whether or not a patient's current weight is healthy.

Your BMI is calculated by dividing your weight (in kilograms) by your height (in meters squared). 

This causes problems for athletes, for example, because the BMI does not consider muscle mass. And often, athletes or bodybuilders are classified as obese, when they have very little body fat in reality.

Clearly this mode of measurement has its flaws.

So, who is considered obese according to this rubric?

Let's take a look at the chart.

Weight Status/BMI

Underweight - Below 18.5

Normal - 18.5-24.9

Overweight - 25.0-29.9

Obese - 30+

Extremely Obese - 40+

The Body Mass Index is not the best measurement for body fat or overall wellness.

Causes of Obesity

While there are other factors that may influence body weight (genetics, hormones, etc.), obesity generally occurs when you consume more calories than you burn.

The body stores these excess calories as fat.

Common Causes:

  • Medical Problem: some illnesses lead to obesity, such as Cushing's Syndrome or polycystic ovary syndrome.
  • Inadequate Sleep: lack of sleep may cause hormonal changes that can lead to an appetite increase and cravings for "junk food".
  • Pregnancy: While with child, women must consume more calories to meet baby's nutritional needs, as well as their own. After delivery, a lot of mommies find it difficult to lose the extra weight. It's not impossible though. Superstar, Beyonce went vegan to shed those pregnancy pounds.
  • Sedentary Lifestyle: Inactivity makes consuming more calories than you burn way too easy. Try to move as often as possible, even if you can't do the recommended 30 mins of exercise each day. Just move.
  • Medications: some medications cause the body to put on extra pounds. They include, but are not limited to: anti-depressants, anti-psychotic medications, steroids, and even diabetes medication. 
  • Unhealthy Eating Habits: Poor nutrition is the leading cause of obesity. Often, consumers of the Standard American Diet (SAD) eat the most nutrient-deficient foods. Be sure your maintaining proper nutrition.

The Complications

Excessive body fat can lead to a host of complications. Some of which I'm sure you've heard time and time again. However, it's time to take these seriously and make the appropriate lifestyle adjustments.

Obese persons are more likely to experience:

  • Metabolic Syndrome (combo of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol and high triglycerides)
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Stroke
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Depression
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Skin Issues (poor wound healing)

Does this mean that only overweight people deal with these health issues? Absolutely not. However, excessive weight is strongly linked to the onset of such illnesses as diabetes. It creates conditions that make the body more susceptible to these problems.

How to Fight the Fat

Before beginning any nutritional changes, it would be best to contact your physician first. We are not medical professionals.

Many have successfully defeated obesity with a combination of regular exercise and a healthy nutritional lifestyle. Funk & Soul legend, Chaka Khan reversed diabetes and high blood pressure by adopting a vegan diet.

Vegan life is not for everyone though; and we understand that, but whatever approach you choose should incorporate plenty of water, nutrient-dense foods, and regular exercise.

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