Introduction to overweight and obesity

Overweight and obesity are current diseases that have emerged with the increase in sedentary lifestyle and with a diet generally high in fat and sugar (for example, fast food, soft drinks).

Obesity ( BMI greater than 30) is not just a cosmetic concern, as we have to know that there are significant health risks. In advanced stages, obesity can lead the person to stop working, as the disease can cause many serious complications that disable the person, such as diabetes, hypertension (can cause a stroke or myocardial infarction), osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, psychological disorders (depression due to loss of confidence), serious cardiovascular diseases, bowel cancer, psoriasis, etc.

The good news is that weight loss of up to 5 to 10% already greatly improves the health of the overweight or obese person.

Overweight, obesity and diets

As drugs are often of little interest (there are few of them, and their functioning is sometimes controversial in terms of their ultimate goal, for example, a drug to lose fat), diets (in a broad sense) play an essential role in weight loss.

Some medical specialists in obesity estimate that the fight against overweight is placed in the head (there is a strong psychological influence on whether or not you want to eat). While some depend on a sugar-free diet, others depend on a fat-free diet and there are those who go for sports.

A Danish study published at the end of 2010 that was carried out with 772 families showed that a diet rich in proteins and low in carbohydrates was more effective for losing weight.

Create health will try to publish articles as objective as possible about diets, however, there is a lot of conflicting information. It is also relevant that obesity, especially in the United States, has a huge market, in which many books, products, etc. are sold. The challenges are enormous and it is not always easy to know who is right. It is also possible for a diet to work for one individual and not work for another. Create health will inform you in the coming years about effective diets without health risks, in this true “jungle” of information.

Child obesity

According to a study published in February 2014 in the “New England Journal of Medicine”, obesity in children in the United States begins in kindergarten. By the age of 14, nearly half of the people who became obese were already obese by the age of five. This study reveals that over 12.4% of US children entering kindergarten were obese and 14.9% were overweight. Children from the richest 20% of families had the lowest incidence of preschool obesity compared to all other socioeconomic groups, the study says.

Definition overweight/obesity

Overweight and obesity are, in general, the result of an excess of calories that the body cannot burn. This is an increasingly frequent problem in the world, as people are increasingly sedentary (do little physical exercise) and eat very poorly.

We distinguish overweight in a first stage and after a more important weight gain, we speak of obesity.

When do we talk about overweight or obesity?

3 Methods to measure obesity

1. Doctors generally use the body mass index ( BMI ), in English called the Body Mass Index (BMI) to measure excess weight in a person, it is a measure that indicates the relationship between weight in kilograms and height in square meters (BMI=weight[kg] / height2[m2]) of the individual, allows weighting in relation to height.

This formula allows the physician to diagnose whether a person is of normal weight (BMI 20 to 25), overweight or overweight (BMI 25 to 30) or obese (BMI greater than 30).

2. It may also be interesting for the doctor to measure the belly circumference.

It is possible to measure it with a measuring tape, in the most prominent region (usually in the navel region), without shrinking the belly (breathing normally).

The measurement of the belly circumference allows the doctor, in the case of a high or especially very high value, to eventually diagnose an increasingly frequent disease: the metabolic syndrome (mixture of diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol, obesity,… ). This measurement can provide valuable information about a patient’s health, as it is known that excess fat in the abdominal area can be very dangerous for the heart.

With this last parameter, it is possible to better understand that obesity is considered by doctors as a global disease that can present important health risks and, therefore, an increasingly multifactorial approach (working together with a general practitioner, nutritionist, interns, pharmacist …) is recommended.


– According to a study published in the scientific journal The Lancet, on April 1 , 2016, under the direction notably of Imperial College London, obesity affects more than 640 million adults worldwide (375 million women and 266 million men), i.e. 13% of the world’s adult population. As you can see, women are more affected by obesity than men.
This research work also showed that, worldwide, 2.3% of adult men and 5% of adult women are highly obese, that is, a BMI greater than 35. See  our dossier on BMI
According to According to this study, the obesity rate in adults could even reach 20% of the world’s population by 2025.
This work was based on data from a universe composed of over 19 million people of legal age, spread across 186 countries. It was one of the most complete subjects held on the subject.

According to a study published June 12, 2017 in The New England Journal of Medicine and a September 16, 2017 New York Times article containing figures from the study, there were, as of September 16, 2017, more than 700 million obese in the world.

– A broad international study by the WHO, published in February 2010 and confirmed in May 2012, had shown that between 10% and 12% of adults were obese. This equates to 500 million people. These studies showed that the American continent was the most affected by overweight and, above all, by obesity.

– According to research published in May 2014 in the scientific journal The Lancet, in 2013, 2.1 billion people were overweight or obese around the world.

Rate of obesity and overweight by country

– US United States:

The number of obese people in the United States is 40% of US adults, according to a report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published in March 2018. About 7.7% of US adults suffer of morbid obesity (BMI greater than or equal to 40). This number refers to the years 2016 and 2017. During the years 2007 to 2008, the number of obese people was 34%. Among children, the increase is less pronounced than among adults with 18.5% of children obese in 2015-2016 compared to 17% in 2007-2008. These results were published online March 23, 2018 as a research letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association (DOI: 10.1001/jama.2018.3060).

A survey paper showed that 68% of Americans were overweight or obese. [source: ATS, September 2010]

– In Brazil, in 2015, 18% of the population was obese, compared to 7% in 1980, according to a full New York Times report published on September 16, 2017. In 2011, the Brazilian Ministry of Health estimated that 15.8% of Brazilians were obese and 48.5% were overweight.

– In Canada:
In 2011, 25% of Canadian adults were considered obese.

According to Statistics Canada, 54% of Canadian adults were overweight or obese in 2014.

– In Germany, according to a 2010 survey, 52.5% of adults were overweight in Europe’s most populous country. Approximately 16% of men and 14% of women were considered obese in Germany.

– In Italy: 45.5% of the inhabitants are overweight and 10% would be obese.

– In Turkey, in July 2012, authorities estimated that 35% of the Turkish population was obese.

– In Australia, a study (National Survey on the Health of Australians 2011/2012, conducted with 33,500 people) established that 63.4% of Australians over 18 years old were overweight. [source, ATS, October 2012]
A survey conducted by the WHO in 2005 showed that 20% of Australians were obese.

– In Mexico, 32.8% of adults are obese [source, Food and Agriculture Organization, 2013]. Now, in this country there are already more obese people than in the United States. Mexico is one of the world’s most important consumers, if not the most important, of coca-based beverages (soft drinks). The direct relationship between soft drinks and obesity no longer needs to be demonstrated.

– In South Africa, 33.5% of adults are obese [source, Food and Agriculture Organization, 2013].

– In France: approximately 38.5% of French people are said to be overweight (although with a large North-South disparity) and around 15% of French people are obese, according to 2012 figures published in the newspaper Le Figaro (link  here ).

– In Switzerland:
A survey by the Office Fédéral de la statistique , the national statistical body, showed that in 2012 one adult in ten was obese, i.e. 10% of the adult population.

– In China, according to a New York Times report published on September 16, 2017, in 2015, 5% of the Chinese population was obese. In 1980, the number of obese people in China was 0.7%, according to the New York Times .

World map of overweight and obesity (according to BMI, from 10 to 35)


The causes of overweight or obesity can be multiple:

– a bad diet: very high in fat, in sugar, high in soft drinks, fast food (sandwiches, french fries), sweets or alcohol.

– Excessive consumption of meat. A study by the University of Adelaide, published in 2016 in the scientific journal BMC Nutrition et Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences , showed a link between the obesity epidemic in the world and meat consumption. In countries where meat is consumed the most, such as the US, obesity rates have been high. This study, and other studies published in the past, show that meat protein can turn into fat in the body, especially if the person consumes it in conjunction with sugar and fat. Meat proteins, digested late, act as a surplus for the body and can accumulate as fat.

– “snacking” a lot between meals (without respecting meal times).

– a genetic (hereditary) origin (due to poor metabolism of fats or sugars)

– a lack of physical activity, sedentary lifestyle (in English with humor, couch potato).

– stress : can favor weight gain. This is related to the hormones released by stress (cortisol, adrenaline) that can influence different processes of weight gain, such as the desire to eat.

– sleepless nights (lack of sleep), with less than four hours of sleep. Sleeping little can favor some active agents in the brain, which stimulate appetite or do not prevent satiety (feeling of not being hungry anymore), which is why there is a more pronounced weight gain in people who sleep little.

– problems with the thyroid gland, such as hypothyroidism .

– prolonged use of certain medications (for several months), such as antidepressants, antihistamines, which also have a sleep effect (eg diphenhydramine-based), corticosteroids (eg prednisone), progestins, pill, … Read: Medicines that make you fat

– problems with taste perception, especially with sweets. Studies have shown that people who are overweight or obese may have a reduced perception of taste intensity. A study published in 2017 in the scientific journal Appetite showed that if taste receptors were blocked by a medicinal plant Gymnema sylvestre , participants preferred foods and drinks that were sweeter and therefore more caloric. This study was conducted by researchers at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

– the micro-organisms (bacteria in particular) responsible for digesting food in our body can also lead the body to gain weight in case of poor regulation, says a study carried out in the USA, published in March 2010.

A human being harbors an average of 100 trillion bacteria, 10 times more than the number of human cells. These bacteria are found mainly in our digestive system and can play a key role in the treatment and prevention of obesity, says a Chinese study conducted by Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, published at the end of 2012 in the Journal ISME.

According to research, the intestinal bacteria Enterobacter cloacae may be responsible for obesity in humans. Regulating or eliminating this bacteria through certain foods or probiotics allowed one study patient to lose 51.4 kg (he weighed 174.8 kg before the study).


– high weight (use a scale to weigh yourself and then a converter to calculate your BMI, calculate your BMI ).

– fat in the thighs, belly,…

– shortness of breath right at the beginning of physical exercises.

– sleep apnea problems at night or respiratory failure.

– psychological and self-esteem problems due to being overweight (depression…)


Overweight and, above all, obesity can trigger the following risks or complications:

– various disorders of the locomotor system (rheumatism), in particular osteoarthritis , osteoporosis and back pain .

– psychic illnesses because of the psychological, aesthetic and mental consequences that being overweight brings, such as depression .

– various cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension , venous disorders or cholesterol (atherosclerosis).

– metabolic diseases such as diabetes or gout .

– sleep apnea

– Decrease in life expectancy, on average, by several months (this is the case of the American population, where life expectancy has decreased by a few months due to obesity).

– cancer, in the United States, obesity is associated with 40% of all diagnosed cancers, according to a press release from the University of Cincinnati published in October 2017. Obesity particularly increases the risk of suffering from colorectal cancer, of breast (after menopause) and pancreas.

– psoriasis


For sale without medical prescription (after discussion with the pharmacist)

– Orlistat in a dosage of 120 mg is a medicine that acts on the absorption of fats. Thanks to this medicine, fats pass through the gastrointestinal tract without being absorbed. This medication works well for people who have a high intake of fats rather than sugars.

Orlistat causes side effects, such as frequent watery and greasy stools, and sometimes an urgent need to go to the bathroom, a situation that is very uncomfortable for the patient.

As fat absorption decreases, an external supplement of fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K) and beta-carotene may be necessary.

In case of obesity, talk to a doctor as only he will be able to choose the best treatment (medicines, regimen, exercises,…)

Herbal medicine

The medicinal plants listed below have been shown to be effective in losing weight and therefore combating excess weight or cellulite.

The effect of these plants is generally related to a depurative, lipolytic or diuretic action.

– pineapple (in capsules)

– ash (in capsules)

– yerba mate (in infusion, tablet or capsules)

– java tea (in infusion or capsules)

– green tea (in infusion, pills or capsules)

– the pepper

Pepper and obesity, action on the feeling of satiety
Researchers from the Center for Nutrition and Gastrointestinal Diseases at the University of Adelaide in Australia, published a study in August 2015 in the journal Plos ONE on the effects of pepper on obesity. Australian scientists discovered that a diet rich in fats could disturb important receptors located in the stomach, which send a signal of satiety to the brain. They studied the action of a substance, capsaicin, found in pepper (eg in the species Capsicum frutescens L.), on receptors called TRPV1 located in the stomach.

Scientists have observed that the stomach expands when it is full, which activates the nerve signals that inform the brain that a sufficient amount of food has been ingested (satiety). Activation of this process is done through TRPV1 receptors, which are mainly activated by capsaicin, found in pepper. Inhibition of these receptors or desensitization by fatty foods causes a delay in the onset of satiety. Then, the person consumes more food, which causes weight gain. Pepper can be used in weight loss and may lead to the discovery of new drugs. It is advisable to eat pepper every day in cases of overweight or obesity. [Source: University of Adelaide press release, August 2015]


– The first measure (scientifically proven) to fight obesity or being overweight is to have a healthy diet, that is, to adopt a low-calorie diet.

Limit fatty foods high in fast sugar (fast food) as well as sweet drinks that are also high in fast sugar and soft drinks (drink water, preferably).

– Practice sports (report of a scientific study) or exercise, as this allows you to burn caloric foods and therefore lose a little weight. The first measure to be taken is to control the diet, but the practice of exercises can help with weight loss.

– We remind you that sugar turns into fat, so try to limit as much as possible the consumption of sweet foods and drinks with a lot of sugar. It’s not just fat that makes you fat! In a mug (3dl) of soda we can count on average ten spoonfuls of sugar.

Interesting observation: According to a recent study from 2006, carried out by the prestigious American university of Harvard in Boston, the daily intake of a mug of soft drink of about 3 dl by Americans (Cola, lemonade….) is responsible for an annual weight gain of an average of 6.5 kg (this is an average, so we can imagine that for athletes this represents less and for sedentary people more).

Therefore, control your consumption of soft drinks, even if the taste is pleasant, avoid drinking them frequently.

– Alcohol is also very caloric! Be careful not to drink too much on a regular basis, especially stronger drinks and beer (relatively caloric with malt).

– Be aware of the calorie content of each food.

– Adopt an adapted diet, such as the dissociated diet.

– Eating together as a family can actually be one of the best ways to promote a balanced diet which everyone knows has the effect of limiting overweight and obesity, especially for children. In April 2012, an American team from Rutgers, the University of New Jersey, showed when analyzing several studies on the subject, the importance of family meals. According to these researchers, this practice leads to “an increase in the consumption of fruits, vegetables, fibers, calcium and vitamins”. In addition, “making meals together as a family limits younger people from consuming unhealthy foods”.

– Eating apples, including the Granny Smith variety, would help in the fight against obesity and related diseases (eg diabetes), according to a US study published in 2014. According to researchers at Washington State University ( Washington State University) , consumption of Granny Smith apples promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the colon due to the particularly high concentration of indigestible substances found in this variety, such as dietary fiber and phenolic compounds such as flavonoids.

– Reduce meat consumption. An Australian study published in 2016 demonstrated that meat proteins could turn into fat in the body.

– A significant consumption of fiber can help to lose weight, especially in case of overweight and obesity, but there are differences between each individual.

Influence of intestinal bacteria
A Danish study carried out in 2017 showed that a fiber-rich diet, such as the Nordic diet (“New Nordic Diet”), is not always effective for weight loss. Its success depends on a particular combination of gut bacteria in the person carrying out the dietary regimen. In other words, some people have a combination of gut bacteria that prevent fiber from being effective in weight loss. Better identification of certain intestinal bacteria (enterotypes), thanks to tests performed on stool extracts, should make it possible to predict whether or not a high-fiber diet is effective in losing weight. This study carried out by the University of Copenhagen under the direction of Mads Hjorth and Arne Astrup has been published in the scientific journalInternational Journal of Obesity on September 8, 2017.

Read also: 12 foods that help you lose weight – Medicines that make you fat – 10 tips to lose belly fat


Read: How to lose belly? 10 tips to lose belly

Jeanne Kenney
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I’m a stylist trainer, a content creator, and an entrepreneur passion. Virgo sign and Pisces ascendant, I move easily between my dreams, the crazy world I want, and my feet on the ground to carry out my projects.

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