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Differences between overweight and obesity

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Gastone Zucchiatti
General medicine and nutrition consultations. Emergency Department assistance. Smoking Unit.
22 Mar 2023
3 Min
Health tips

Are overweight and obesity the same? Both terms tend to be confused to refer to people with a weight above what is considered normal or healthy, but they are not the same. In fact, one refers to a chronic pathology that can lead to other health problems. Dr. Gastone Zucchiatti, a specialist in our Obesity and Weight Control Unit, explains the differences and the risks associated with both conditions.

Causes of overweight and obesity

Overweight is a condition of weight higher than healthy, derived from a slightly elevated accumulation of muscle, bone, water or fat. Among the factors that can lead to being overweight is the fact of leading a sedentary life, following a diet rich in fats and consuming certain drugs. In most cases, being overweight is the result of an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended, that is, overweight people tend to consume more calories than they burn.

Obesity, unlike being overweight, is a chronic metabolic pathology, derived from the excessive accumulation of body fat. The main causes of this disease are genetic and behavioral factors linked to diet and physical activity. In addition, as in the case of being overweight, in obesity there is also an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended.

Symptoms of overweight and obesity

The symptoms of overweight and obesity can vary depending on each person, but there are some common characteristics in most cases. Even the signs of both conditions are intermingled, and may be the same, with the only difference that in the case of obesity these are accentuated and more visible.

Both in obesity and overweight, people often experience problems sleeping, and may suffer from sleep disorders such as daytime sleepiness and obstructive sleep apnea or pauses in breathing while sleeping.

On the other hand, in the case of being overweight, people suffer from an increase in body weight, which they usually notice due to the feeling that their clothes and shoes fit tighter. This also translates into changes in the body shape and particularly in the increase in the diameter of the waist and abdomen. As for obesity, the increase in body weight is usually associated with multiple ailments, such as fatigue, feeling short of breath, back pain and joint pain. In the same way as overweight, people with obesity have a waist and abdomen diameter well above what is considered normal or healthy.

Diagnosis of overweight and obesity

After the doctor takes a complete and personalized clinical history, where family and personal history are taken into account, the doctor proceeds with the anthropometric study. This includes a series of diagnostic tests that make it possible to evaluate the general state of health of the patient, especially at the bone, muscle and nutritional level.

  • Body Mass Index (BMI)

The Body Mass Index (BMI) is the best-known indicator for diagnosing obesity and is obtained by dividing the person’s weight by the squared height. “If the result obtained oscillates between 25 and 30, it means that there is overweight, while if it is over 30 we are talking about obesity,” Zucchiatti points out.

  • Bioimpedance test

The Bioimpedance Test allows to measure the percentage of fat found between the skin and the organs, as well as the percentage of muscle and body water. This test is carried out in all the sessions that the patient attends to measure the degree of evolution and response of the patient to the treatment.

  • Blood test

The doctor may request analytical tests to evaluate other parameters related to obesity that are causing this weight gain, such as the presence of cholesterol or diabetes.

Treatment of overweight and obesity

Based on the results obtained in the diagnostic tests, the specialist will determine a specific and personalized treatment, designed according to the causes that have led to the development of overweight or obesity, setting a specific objective to achieve the ideal weight and reduce the risk of develop pathologies associated with a high weight.

At the CreuBlanca Obesity and Weight Control Unit we address multiple pathologies associated with weight gain from a comprehensive point of view, analyzing the biological and genetic factors involved in their development. A multidisciplinary team of specialists, made up of general practitioners, endocrinologists, nutritionists and clinical psychologists, work together to offer you an accurate diagnosis and a personalized therapeutic plan, focused on achieving your recommended weight and preventing the development of health problems associated with being overweight.