Obesity symptoms


Obesity is the result of eating more calories than the body can burn or use on a regular basis. The body then stores the extra calories in the form of fat. As extra calories are consumed every day, the body continues to accumulate excess fat stores, leading to obesity and, in the most severe cases, morbid obesity. The symptoms of obesity have been found to precede many serious and sometimes fatal illnesses.

Obesity and BMI

Symptoms of obesity include measurable criteria designed to assess body fat percentage; The doctor uses these calculations to diagnose obesity.

The main method of comparing weight gain with obesity is a special measurement system called a body mass index, or BMI.

The body mass index is a method of measuring body fat based on the relationship between height and weight.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers an easy-to-use online tool for checking a person's BMI. The following chart illustrates a person's weight status according to their BMI.

Body mass index table
BMI Weight status
Below 18.5 Under weight
18.5 – 24.9 Normal
25.0 – 29.9 Over weight
30 or more Obesity

There are different kinds of obesity, depending on its severity. A BMI between 35.0 and 39.9 is considered class II obesity, and a BMI of 40.0 or more is considered class III (extreme obesity).

Note. BMI is not always an accurate measure of body fat. For example, some athletes are very muscular because their weight reflects high levels of muscle mass. This could wrongly classify them as obese, even though they are very low in fat.

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Frequent symptoms

Although gaining extra pounds may seem insignificant in terms of a person's overall health, weight gain can quickly turn into a serious illness.

Common symptoms in adults

The symptoms of obesity can negatively affect your daily life. In adults, common symptoms include:

  • Excessive accumulation of body fat (especially around the waist)
  • Dyspnoea
  • Sweating (more than usual)
  • Snore
  • Sleeping problems
  • Skin problems (due to the accumulation of moisture in the folds of the skin).
  • Inability to perform simple physical tasks (which can be easily completed before gaining weight)
  • Fatigue (mild to severe )
  • Pain (usually in the back and joints)
  • Psychological impact (negative self-esteem, depression, shame, social isolation )

Frequent symptoms in children and adolescents.

More than 340 million children and adolescents ages 5 to 19 were overweight or obese in 2016, according to the World Health Organization . Over the past 30 years, the CDC reports that childhood obesity rates have tripled, according to Boston Children's Hospital .

Common symptoms of childhood obesity can include:

  • Eating disorders
  • Fatty tissue deposits (may be visible in the chest area)
  • Stretch marks on hips and back.
  • Acanthosis nigricans (dark, velvety skin around the neck and other areas)
  • Difficulty breathing when exercising
  • Sleep apnea
  • Constipation
  • Gastrointestinal reflux
  • Low self esteem
  • Early puberty in girls / delayed puberty in boys
  • Orthopedic problems (such as flat feet or dislocated hips)

Morbid obesity symptoms

Today, morbid obesity is a growing health problem in many developed countries around the world, especially in the United States.

When a person weighs 100 pounds above optimal body weight, with a BMI of 40 or more (in the extreme obesity category), they are considered morbidly obese.

A person suffering from obesity-related diseases (such as high blood pressure or diabetes ) with a BMI of 35 or more is also considered obese .

Morbid obesity can make a person have difficulty with daily activities such as walking and can alter bodily functions such as breathing. It also puts a person at high risk for many other serious diseases.

Rare symptoms

Early obesity can develop in children due to several rare genetic disorders associated with genes that play a vital role in regulating appetite and energy expenditure, these include:

  • Obesity with proopiomelanocortin deficiency (POMC) : Key symptoms include hyperphagia (severe hunger) that begins in childhood, obesity at a young age, and hormonal problems (such as adrenal insufficiency).
  • Obesity associated with leptin receptor deficiency (LEPR) : the main symptoms include: hyperphagia, severe early-onset obesity, and hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (a condition in which the male testes or female ovaries produce little or no sex hormones due to problems with the pituitary gland or hypothalamus).
  • Bardet-Biedl syndrome (BBS) : Key symptoms include early-onset obesity, hyperphagia, visual impairment, polydactyly (having an extra toe or leg), and kidney failure.


In addition to the primary symptoms of obesity, obesity can also contribute to many serious health problems, many of which are difficult to detect in the early stages of the disease.

The serious health complications that are most common with obesity include:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension) or heart disease due to the heart trying to pump blood to a larger surface of the body.
  • High cholesterol (fatty deposits that can block arteries) that cause strokes, heart attacks, and other complications .
  • Stroke (due to high cholesterol and high blood pressure)
  • Type 2 diabetes (almost 50% of type 2 diabetes cases are directly related to obesity )
  • Certain cancers (according to the Centers for Disease Control , 40% of cancer diagnoses are associated with obesity)
  • Asthma
  • Kidney disease can occur due to chronic high blood pressure that damages the kidneys.
  • Osteoarthritis due to excess weight, which puts additional pressure on the joints, bones and muscles.
  • Gallbladder disease (a 2013 study found that the risk of gallbladder disease increased by 7% for every one-point increase on the BMI scale)
  • Sleep apnea, as fat deposits in the neck and tongue block the airways.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux , hiatal hernia , and heartburn caused by being overweight pressing on a valve in the upper abdomen. This allows acid from the stomach to leak into the esophagus.

Conditions that occur at the same time as obesity, such as cancer or high blood pressure, are called "comorbidities."

Concomitant diseases of obesity often lead to severe chronic disability or even death. Also, obese people are known to have a shorter life span.

Perhaps the most encouraging information from the World Health Organization is the fact that obesity can be prevented, but first, it must be detected as early as possible in the disease process.

Frequently asked questions

  • Yes, it is possible to be overweight and still be healthy if you do not have other conditions associated with being overweight, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol. The health measure is not just about your BMI, because that number does not represent increased muscle mass.

  • According to the CDC, the prevalence of obesity in the US adult population as a whole was 42.4%. Some groups suffer from obesity more than others.

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