Difference Between Obesity and Overweight

Main Difference – Obesity vs Overweight

Obesity and overweight are two health problems in which the weight of the body is known to be greater than what is expected to be healthy for the age and height. This is a common issue we often encounter in the modern world, caused by various wrong practices in food consumption techniques and inactive lifestyles.

Body mass index (BMI) is the most accurate measurement which is used to identify the range of weight the particular individual belongs to. This is calculated by dividing the person’s weight in kilograms by the square of his height in meters – kg/m2. Obesity has a BMI greater than or equal to 30 whereas overweight has a BMI greater than or equal to 25. This is the main difference between obesity and overweight. In children, the range will differ according to the age in years. 

This article covers,

1. What is Obesity? – Definition, Causes and Effects

2. What is Overweight? – Definition, Causes and Effects 

3. What is the difference between Obesity and Overweight?Difference Between Obesity and Overweight - Obesity vs Overweight Comparison Chart

What is Obesity

According to the latest definition of World Health Organization, obesity is a condition where a person’s weight is 20% or more than the normal weight or his BMI is 30 or more. “Morbid obesity” is its extensive form; this means a person is either 50%-100% over normal weight, more than 100 pounds over normal weight, or sufficiently overweight to severely interfere with health or normal functioning of the body.

People can become obese due to various reasons; the commonest ones include the consumption of fast food, alcohol, carbonated drinks and leading a sedentary lifestyle.

What Causes Obesity

Calorie Intake

Too much intake of calories has become a big issue nowadays since people are more attracted to fast-food, sugary drinks and alcoholic beverages which are major causes for the unhealthy fat disposition in the body. In fact, the consumption rate of sugary- carbonated drinks has tripled over the past 2 decades, resulting in more obese people who are full of secondary comorbidities.

Sleep Deprivation

According to latest research studies, reduced sleep duration with short sleep duration is linked to increased risk of obesity both in adults and in children. In fact, sleep deprivation clearly increases the appetite in individuals (due to the hormone Ghrelin) with an undue imbalance of hormonal concentrations in the body, giving rise to increased risk of weight gain.

Sedentary Lifestyle

A few decades back, people did a lot of physical activities daily such as walking along streets, cleaning their homes, carrying heavy weights, etc. But after the arrival of televisions, video games, computers and mobile phones, they became stagnant, becoming more focused on chair-centered daily routines whereas only a minority of individuals chose to engage in physical activities and stay apparently healthy. Obesity can ultimately cause fatal diseases like heart attacks, diabetes, etc. since the less you move your body, less it is likely to burn calories, which has a clear effect on maintaining a stable level of insulin in the body. Unstable Insulin is found to have a huge effect on gaining weight.

Endocrine Interrupters

Various molecular mechanisms owned by the compound known as fructose, which is rich in beverages are known to alter lipid energy metabolism which will ultimately result in fatty liver and metabolic syndrome. These individuals will be obese and highly susceptible to contact other secondary non-communicable diseases like hypertension and hyperlipidemia.

Childhood obesity increases the risk of premature death and disability in adulthood; it is associated with difficulty in breathing, hypertension, increased risk of fractures, cardiovascular diseases, insulin resistance and psychological effects like depression.

Main Difference - Obesity vs Overweight

What is Overweight

According to WHO, this is defined as an abnormal or excessive fat accumulation which can result in an impairment of health due to an imbalance between calorie consumption and expenditure.

Similar to obesity, increased intake of high sugary food, fast-food rich in fats, carbonated drinks, sedentary lifestyle and physical inactivity are the key etiological factors that result in overweight.

This can also be a result of various hormonal imbalances in the body such as hypothyroidism and eating disorders like Bulimia.

Both these conditions can be prevented by lifestyle modifications including regular exercises, cutting down on high-calorie food intake, avoiding smoking and alcohol and having a balanced diet. Underlying comorbid conditions should be identified as soon as possible by screening methods and regular medical checkups so that timely interventions can be done.

Undealt overweight and obesity can result in insulin resistance, cardiovascular diseases like stroke and heart attacks, musculoskeletal problems like osteoarthritis and malignancies such as endometrial, breast, ovarian and prostate gland.

Difference Between Obesity and Overweigh

Healthy, Overweight and Obese (from left to right)

Difference Between Obesity and Overweight

BMI Values 

Even though both these conditions are characterized by increased levels of fat deposition in the body due to an imbalance between calorie intake and expenditure, they differ from one another in the means of BMI. In fact,

Obesity is defined as a BMI greater than or equal to 30

Overweight is defined as a BMI greater than or equal to 25.

Number of People

As far as the world population is concerned, around 1 billion people around the world are overweight whereas 300 million have found to be obese, so both have become a major issue in the modern community.

Image Courtesy: 

“Complications-of-Obesity” by Next Twenty Eight (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

“Obesity-waist circumference” By Victovoi – Own work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Embogama

Embogama is a passionate freelance writer for several years. Her areas of interest include general medicine, clinical medicine, health and fitness, Ayurveda medicine, psychology, counseling and piano music