Impact of being overweight or obese on health and disease
Monitoring abdominal girth is important

It is wise to prevent disease than run after remedies after it has happened or grown beyond control.

Sathya Sai Baba, October 12, 1969

What is Body Mass Index (BMI)?

BMI is a measure of a person’s weight in proportion to their height. It is a screening tool about whether someone has a healthy weight of their height. It is calculated as the weight of the person in kilograms divided by the square of their height in Meters.

What is Overweight?

Adults may be considered overweight if they have a BMI more than 25 for non-Asians and more than 23 for Asians.


What is Obesity?

BMI more than 30 for non-Asians and more than 28 for Asians.

The increased availability of a variety of foods at our disposal along with decreased physical activity has led to an increased prevalence of overweight and obesity, which leads to ill-health. Other factors including genetics and intestinal bacterial population (gut microbiome) also seem to influence obesity. Approximately one‐third of the world’s population is overweight or obese and this is expected to increase to 50% by 2030. Obesity is associated with an increased risk of diseases including cardiovascular (heart) disease, diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), dyslipidemia (abnormal/high cholesterol levels), non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, osteoarthritis (joint disease), depression, and even several types of cancer.

Ill effects of obesity

A more important indicator of risk for disease is the distribution of fat and lean muscle mass in the body. The presence of high body fat and especially the presence of abdominal or central obesity (based on waist circumference and/or waist-hip ratio) is the most important predictor of a majority of these associated diseases. Thus, one could have a normal BMI but have abdominal obesity. Such people are at a higher risk of disease, for example, cardiovascular disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Thus, one should not think they are ‘healthy based on having a normal BMI alone.

There can also be obese individuals who are considered healthy and at low risk of associated complications. Obese individuals with abdominal obesity and other features of metabolic syndrome have higher risk of diseases than obese people without abdominal obesity.

The following strategies can help you to have a healthy BMI:

  1. Dietary modification (Low fat/Low carbohydrate diet) – although most studies have focused on low-fat diets to achieve weight reduction, recent studies suggest that low carbohydrate diets are more successful in achieving this effect.
  2. Regular exercise (physical activity) – can contribute to weight reduction and importantly help maintain weight reduction.
  3. Decreased abdominal obesity – along with weight reduction, can be associated with a reduction in obesity-related risk factors and improvement in obesity-related disease outcomes.

The above information shows that every attempt should be made to become more ‘metabolically healthy' to decrease the risk of obesity-related disease.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the SSIO. This article is for your information only. No advice is given or intended by these articles.  Any changes to your life that may possibly affect your health should be done only after consultation with your physician.



  1. Why primary obesity is a disease?
  2. From the BMI paradox to the obesity paradox: the obesity–mortality association in coronary heart disease.
  3. Metabolically healthy obese” phenotype & its association with clinical/subclinical cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality – a systematic review.
  4. Effect of low-fat diet interventions versus other diet interventions on long-term weight change in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
  5. The Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Weight Loss and Maintenance.
  6. Obesity in older adults: Effect of degree of weight loss on cardiovascular markers and medications.

Note: This article is for your information only and no advice is given or intended. You should consult your physician before making any changes to your life that may possibly affect your health.