What is the correct definition of obesity

Overweight / Obesity - General Information

  1. Nutrition tips
  2. Overweight / obesity
  3. General information


Overweight (obesity) is a typical side effect of the affluent society. The term "Obesity"denotes an increase in body weight that goes beyond the normal. But what is" normal "? Normal weight and obesity, various height-weight indices have been developed over time. The following two have proven themselves in everyday clinical practice.

Broca index

Normal weight = height in cm - 100

The exceeding or falling below the normal Broca weight is usually expressed in percent.



  • fixed guideline value without fluctuation
  • only suitable for average sizes (160-180 cm)
  • does not take into account body composition

Body mass index (BMI)

BMI = body weight (kg): body height (m)2


  • suitable for (almost) all body sizes


  • more complicated calculation
  • does not take into account body composition

With the help of our BMI calculator you can have your personal BMI calculated quickly and easily. The following table allows an assessment of the results.

Classification of overweight and obesity in adults (according to WHO 2004)
categoryBMI (kg / m2)Broca overweight (in% approx.)
Underweight< 18,5-
Normal weight18,5-24,9-
Obesity grade I (moderate)30-34,90-20
Obesity grade II (clear)35-39,920-70
Obesity grade III (extreme)> 40> 70


Obesity is a widespread disease. Around every third adult German citizen is overweight. At a younger age, men are more likely to be affected; women over the age of forty are more likely to be affected.

It is particularly noticeable that there has been more and more in recent years obese children gives. This development is dangerous insofar as overweight children have an increased risk of developing nutrition-dependent diseases such as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, etc. in adulthood.

Causes / Risk Factors

Obesity can only arise if the daily calorie intake exceeds the body's energy consumption in the long term. This is called a positive energy balance. Today it is assumed that various factors play a role in the development of obesity.


It has long been known that obesity occurs more frequently within families. Everyone has a so-called basal metabolic rate, i.e. they burn a certain number of calories in complete rest. The level of this basal metabolic rate seems to be genetically determined, among other things. So there are people who burn a lot of calories at rest and can accordingly eat more without gaining weight, and there are people who consume fewer calories. With the latter, of course, the risk of becoming overweight is relatively high. The basal metabolic rate can be increased through regular exercise.

Disorders in eating behavior

Some overweight people eat more often and faster than people of normal weight. With them, the feeling of fullness comes on late, even with high calorie intake. This is possibly due to hormones: with every meal, the stomach is stretched and sends corresponding signals in the form of hormones and nerve stimuli to the brain. The brain is informed when the stomach is full and reports: I am full. If this transmission is disturbed, the feeling of fullness comes too late and one eats more than is actually necessary.

Psychological aspects

The psychological component of being overweight should not be underestimated. Grief, fear, stress, boredom, frustration and a lack of self-confidence are often the trigger for "food cravings".

Lack of exercise

Most people in affluent countries suffer from a sedentary lifestyle. Among other things, this results in lower energy consumption. The development of obesity and cardiovascular diseases is favored.


Hormone preparations such as birth control pills and cortisone preparations can increase appetite and promote the development of obesity through increased food intake and water retention.

Other underlying diseases

In rare cases, diseases of hormone-producing organs can also lead to obesity. These include tumors of the adrenal gland or an underactive thyroid.


The negative health consequences of being overweight are manifold and affect almost every organ, because you have to carry every kilo too much with you and supply it with nutrients. This of course puts a strain on the entire organism. The most common complications are summarized below.

Cardiovascular system

In overweight people, the heart constantly has to work extra to supply the adipose tissue with sufficient blood. In addition, more water and sodium are retained in the body, which promotes the development of high blood pressure. This also puts a strain on the heart. The consequences are angina pectoris, myocardial infarction and chronic heart failure (insufficiency).


The lungs also have to work harder in order to be able to meet the increased oxygen demand. Often, however, the lung capacity is insufficient, so that a chronic oxygen deficiency develops. This is exacerbated by breathing disorders during sleep (sleep apnea syndrome). People complain of daytime sleepiness, loud snoring, and restless sleep. These complaints usually recede completely after weight loss.

Diabetes mellitus

Obesity is the most important risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Other metabolic disorders

Fat metabolism disorders that are associated with an increase in LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, which are dangerous for the cardiovascular system, are particularly common. There is also a risk of fatty liver disease, gout and gallstones.


Being overweight leads to an overload of the joints, especially in the lower spine area, in the hip joints, as well as in the knee and ankle joints. This accelerates wear and tear and leads to chronic pain, which can often only be alleviated by long-term use of painkillers or surgery.


You can diagnose overweight at home after looking at the scales and calculating your BMI or Broca index. If a BMI of 30 or Broca's normal weight is exceeded by 20%, i.e. if you are significantly overweight, you should definitely reduce your weight, as there is an increased risk of the above-mentioned complications. Slightly overweight (BMI 25-30) only requires treatment if there are already additional diseases of the cardiovascular system or diabetes.

The family doctor will first perform some tests, such as blood tests, ultrasound of the liver and gallbladder and an EKG, to determine whether any organ damage has already occurred from being overweight. A thorough examination can largely rule out organic causes of obesity.

Now you can determine the therapy and the treatment goal together with your doctor and / or a nutritionist.