A condition in which excess fat has accumulated in the body. A person 20 per cent above the recommended weight for his or her height (see weight) is obese rather than overweight. About 2 in 5 people in the UK are overweight and a further 1 in 5 obese. Obesity is usually caused by consuming more food than is needed for energy. Energy requirements are determined by metabolic rate (see metabolism) and level of physical activity. Family history is sometimes a factor. Obesity is associated with some hormonal disorders, but these are not generally the cause. Obesity increases the risk of hypertension, stroke, and diabetes mellitus type 2. Coronary artery disease is more common, particularly in obese men under 40. Obesity in men is also associated with increased risk of cancer of the colon, rectum, and prostate, and, in women, of the breast, uterus, and cervix. Extra weight may aggravate osteoarthritis. The first line of treatment is a slimming diet (see weight reduction) plus regular exercise. Drugs such as appetite suppressants are rarely used due to their side effects. Wiring of the jaws, stapling of the stomach, and intestinal bypass operations are attempted only if obesity is endangering a person’s health.


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