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Halina Tomaszczyk, MD
Halina Tomaszczyk, MD | GMC licence number: 3125964
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Obesity and weight loss – how to lose weight quickly and effectively?

Obesity is an excessive accumulation of adipose tissue in the body, exceeding its actual needs. This condition cannot be considered only from the aesthetic point of view, as obesity is a serious disease affecting increasingly more people. 

We can talk about obesity when the adipose tissue accounts for more than 20% of the total body weight in men and 25% in women, while the body mass index (BMI) is equal to or exceeds 30 kg/m2. A similar condition to obesity is overweight, which is an excessive body weight in relation to the optimum one. 

In Poland, almost 20% of the population suffer from obesity, with the phenomenon constantly growing in scale. Obesity affects not only adults, but also and increasingly more often children. Where does obesity come from? How to lose weight effectively, quickly, and in the healthy way?

Obesity causes

There are various types of obesity, but the basic classification of the phenomenon divides it into:

  • Simple (alimentary, primary) obesity – which arises from the excessive intake of energy with food in relation to the actual energy need of the body
  • Secondary obesity – which can develop in the course of or as a result of another disease
  • When it comes to simple obesity, genetic predispositions play an important role in combination with biological and environmental factors. Some people have slower metabolism and thus are more predisposed and prone to gaining weight. Such persons should especially make effort to maintain a healthy lifestyle, as it is the main weapon in fighting obesity. 

    In the meantime, the fast pace of life and bad habits cause people to:

  • Consume very large amounts of high-energy food
  • Eat, very often, processed food without any particular nutritional value, but high in carbohydrates and animal fat
  • Eat in hurry
  • Have few meals during a day
  • Consume a lot of stimulants
  • Have a sedentary lifestyle
  • Refrain from any physical exercise
  • This is enough to cause every healthy body, even one with good metabolism initially, to stop function properly and concentrate on accumulating fat. 

    Obesity may also stem from psychological factors. For some people, binge eating may be a way to relieve stress and depressive states or a way to divert their attention from some traumatic experience.

    What can be the cause of secondary obesity?

    Secondary obesity accounts for 15% of all obesity cases. It can be caused by:

  • Metabolic diseases
  • Hypothalamic diseases, such as tumours, inflammations, or neurological disorders
  • Central nervous system diseases
  • Genetic diseases
  • Hormonal disorders, including climacterium
  • Some drugs, including: tranquilizers, anti-depressants, estrogens, progesterone, or corticosteroids.
  • Tendency to obesity in the adult life may also stem from excessively high caloric diet in the childhood.

    Obesity or overweight? Diagnosing obesity

    First and foremost, we need to determine whether we are dealing with simple obesity or secondary obesity. In the latter case, prevention and treatment will depend on what causes the excess adipose tissue. 

    There are various indicators and measurements to diagnose, treat, and further classify simple obesity. They include:

  • Body mass index – BMI
  • Waist-hip ratio – WHR
  • Anthropometry – skinfold thickness
  • Bioelectrical impedance analysis – BIA
  • Body mass index

    Body mass index, BMI, is used for determining the right body weight of adults. Its value is calculated using a simple formula, taking into account body weight and height. According to WHO, a correct BMI that reflects the optimum ratio of body weight to height ranges from 18.6 to 24.9. 

    Meaning of BMI values for adults:

  • < 16.0 – malnutrition
  • 16.0–16.99 – emaciation (caused by anorexia or other disease)
  • 17.0–18.49 – underweight
  • 18.5–24.99 – normal value
  • 25.0–29.99 – overweight
  • 30.0–34.99 – class I obesity
  • 35.0-39.99 – class II obesity (clinical obesity)
  • ≥ 40.0 – class III obesity (extreme obesity)
  • Based on those measurements, the following obesity types may be determined:

  • Generalised (simple) obesity – adipose tissue is evenly distributed over the entire body
  • Abdominal (android) obesity
  • Gluteal-femoral (gynoid) obesity
  • Abdominal obesity

    Abdominal obesity, also known as central obesity, is more common in men than in women. It does not constitute an aesthetic problem only, but it may also be associated with the risk of numerous diseases. 

    We deal with abdominal obesity when waist circumference is larger than 88 cm in women and 94 cm in men. This type of obesity is mainly caused by hormones. Although in women hormones are primarily responsible for gynoid (gluteal-femoral) obesity – during climacterium, the adipose tissue may also accumulate within the abdomen. 

    Abdominal obesity may be more hazardous for the body, because the adipose tissue accumulates near important internal organs. This may eventually lead to metabolic diseases, circulatory diseases, diabetes, or arterial hypertension. 

    Obesity may also be caused by certain drugs. Obviously, we cannot forget that factors driving the excessive fat accumulation are still bad diet, lack of exercise, and stimulants – no matter what type of obesity we are dealing with.

    Obesity – diseases and complications

    Obesity may lead to numerous diseases and complications related with excessive accumulation of adipose tissue. It increases the risk of circulatory diseases, diabetes, certain types of tumours, or degenerative joint disease. 

    Obesity may lead to:

  • Degenerative joint disease, problems with the skeletal system, spine, and knees
  • Circulatory diseases, hypertension, atherosclerosis, cardiac failure, stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Hormonal disorders
  • Malignant tumours of: large intestine, breasts, ovaries, cervix, prostate, oesophagus, pancreas, kidneys, thyroid
  • Cholelithiasis
  • Lower physical fitness
  • Excessive sweating
  • General bad feeling, low self-esteem
  • Disability, in extreme obesity
  • Weight loss – treating obesity

    How to lose weight quickly and effectively? Many people ask themselves this question – not only those who suffer from severe obesity, but also those who want to lose a few kilos. Treating obesity and the weight loss process are different in the case of slight overweight than in obesity. Obesity requires deeper diagnosis to start a proper treatment. 

    However, be it slight overweight or more severe obesity – weight loss methods have a common denominator.

    How to lose weight effectively?

    You need to stick to certain rules:

    1. Change of eating habits and adopting a healthy diet. The diet should be well-balanced and contain healthy products rich in proteins, vitamins, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates.
      • You need to eat 4–5 meals per day every 3–4 hours and drink a lot of water
      • Your meals should be small, but frequent
      • You need to eat slowly
      • Your meals should be healthy, fresh, and prepared at home if possible
      • Avoid processed food and fast foods
      • Frying should be replaced with boiling, steam cooking, baking, and stewing without fat
      • Snacking between meals is also a meal – it is best to replace sweets with healthy snacks, vegetables, fruit, nuts, or natural yogurt
      • Avoid sweet drinks.
    2. Physical exercise. Besides diet, you should find some time for regular physical exercise. It should take place several times a week for ca. 20–60 minutes.
    3. Avoid stress. Rest and take care of healthy sleep.
    4. It is best to give up stimulants, both alcohol and cigarettes.

    Avoid restrictive diets, starvation diets, and diets that promise “–20 kg” in a week. It is easy to weaken the body this way and experience a yo-yo effect. The most beneficial weight loss amounts to ca. 0.5 kg per week.

    Weight loss pills

    Besides diet and physical activity, obesity treatment is also supported with weight loss preparations and appetite suppressants. However, just as a specific diet or training, the use of medications should be consulted with a specialist. Otherwise, a diet or a specific preparation, instead of helping, may not work at all or even make things worse. 

    Obesity treatment methods:

  • Dietary supplements
  • Appetite suppressants
  • Fat absorption inhibitors
  • Surgery in the case of BMI above 40
  • When it comes to weight loss pills, you need to be aware that quick weight loss is associated with the loss of accumulated water rather than the adipose tissue. It is a short-term effect, which we can achieved at the beginning of the weight loss process – after changing your eating habits. Physical exercise and healthy diet are the main keys to losing unwanted kilograms.

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