In its population surveys, Sciensano investigates the problem of obesity by analysing the practice of physical activities, the Body Mass Index (BMI) and the dietary habits of the population.
Obesity is associated with numerous chronic conditions diseases. A healthy lifestyle, with a balanced diet and the regular practice of a physical activity, help to prevent weight gain and the many related complications.
What is obesity?
Obesity is an accumulation of fat which can be harmful for health. Overweight becomes obesity when the Body Mass Index (BMI) is equal to or greater than 30.
Obesity is considered as a multifactorial disease. An unbalanced diet and a lack of physical activity are the principal causes, but stress and a certain genetic predisposition may also be at the origin of excessive weight gain leading to obesity.
Obesity is associated with numerous chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and some cancers.
Due to these complications, obesity is considered as a risk factor for premature mortality.
Two types of obesity
There are 2 types of obesity:
- android obesity with a distribution of fat around the waistline, in the form of an “apple”, more common among men
- gynoid obesity with a distribution of fat in the lower body, in the form of a pear, more common among women.
Android obesity, also called “abdominal” or “visceral” obesity, increases the risk of developing complications such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Gynoid obesity leads to fewer complications.
What is the BMI?
The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measurement frequently used to estimate underweight or overweight. The BMI establishes the height-weight ratio by dividing the weight (in kilograms) by the square of the height in metres (kg/m²).
DID YOU KNOW? An accumulation of fat around the waistline, independently of the BMI, multiplies the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. This fat, also called “visceral fat” is dangerous, because it surrounds the visceral organs of the abdomen (kidney, liver, pancreas, intestines, stomach etc.).