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Obesity refers to an excessive amount of body fat and is a health risk. It’s caused by a long-term imbalance between energy intake and consumption. Obesity increases the risk of developing many diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, depression and musculoskeletal conditions.

Obesity and overweight can be assessed by determining the person’s body mass index (BMI). BMI is calculated by dividing the person’s weight in kilograms by the square of his/her height in metres. For a person 165 cm tall and weighing 80 kg, BMI is calculated as follows: 80 / (1.65 x 1.65) = 29.4 kg/m2 (BMI calculator).

Normal weight BMI 19 to 24.9
Overweight BMI 25 to 29.9
Obesity BMI 30 to 34.9
Severe obesity BMI 35 to 39.9
Morbid obesity BMI >40

Another way to assess obesity is to measure the waist circumference. If it’s over 100 cm in men or over 90 cm in women, we’re talking about abdominal obesity.

Self-care

The treatment of obesity and overweight is based on recognizing the need for change. Stop and think about your eating and exercise habits. You can use an electronic photo food journal as an aid, or you could join a virtual group promoting healthy eating where you can compare your eating habits with the nutritional recommendations.

When should you seek treatment?

Obesity can be detrimental to your health and well-being in many ways. If you think you need help with weight control and/or treatment of obesity, contact the student healthcare service.

Treatment of obesity

The primary treatment is carefully-planned lifestyle guidance provided at several appointments. This focuses on diet and exercise and the thoughts and attitudes behind them. Treatment methods supporting lifestyle guidance include the Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD) and medication. Morbid obesity can be treated surgically unless other recommended treatment options do not result in permanent weight loss. The treatment will be provided in primary or specialist healthcare depending on the seriousness of the situation.

Information sources: The Finnish Medical Society Duodecim: Terveysportti, The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare

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