Obesity fact sheet

In just a few years, obesity has become a serious public health issue that is the source of a wide range of complications, leading to over-mortality. It is an issue that affects increasingly young people.


What is obesity?

From a medical point of view, obesity is defined as “an excess of weight through an increase in the mass of adipose tissue”. 

Adipose tissue has two ways of storing fat:
- Increasing the quantity stored in each of the fat cells,
- Multiplying the number of fat cells. It then becomes difficult to eliminate the excess cells.

To assess the severity of the obesity, WHO (World Health Organisation) has defined categories in relation to the Body Mass Index (BMI), using the following formula: BMI = Weight / Height²



In addition, measuring the umbilical circumference, more commonly called the waist circumference, makes it possible to identify excess fat at the level of the stomach. When this measurement is more than 88 cm in women (excluding during pregnancy) or 102 cm in men, it is considered that there is abdominal obesity.

Finally, gynecoid obesity refers to excess fat situated essentially at the level of the thighs, as is generally the case in women (commonly called “saddlebags”). Android obesity is when the fat deposits are located principally at the level of the stomach (abdominal obesity).

Article written under the supervision of Dr Marcel ICHOU, a general practitioner in Paris.

Sources: Global Database of Body Mass Index (WHO 2004)

For further information: http://www.obesity.org/obesity/resources/facts-about-obesity/what-is-obesity

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