What are Common Symptoms of Obesity?

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  • Written By: Geisha A. Legazpi
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 30 September 2019
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Obesity is a condition wherein there is excessive deposition of fat in the body. Many scientific studies show that obesity increases the risk of heart attack or myocardial infarction, stroke, diabetes mellitus, and metabolic syndrome. Obesity has physical symptoms, such as increased weight and abdominal girth, but it also has nonphysical manifestations such as fatigue, lack of energy, and weakness. Early recognition of obesity symptoms is needed to appropriately manage this health condition and decrease the risk for the aforementioned diseases.

Although there are different causes and types of obesity, the symptoms and signs are similar. One of the most prominent symptoms of obesity is excess weight. Whether a person has normal or excess weight depends on the computation of his or her body mass index (BMI). BMI is computed by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by the square of his or her height in meters. For adults, BMI that falls between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered normal, from 25 to 29.9 is denoted overweight, and 30 and above is considered obese.

Identifying the symptoms of obesity in children does not merely involve the measurement of BMI at one point in time. A growth chart has to be used, and serial measurements of weight and height have to be made. Based on this growth chart, childhood obesity is defined as BMI that falls beyond the 95th percentile. Usually when the parents are obese, a child has a 50% chance of also becoming obese.


There are several differences in symptoms of obesity among men and women. These differences involve the waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio, and can be explained by the intrinsically different body shapes of the two sexes. For instance, symptoms of obesity in men would include a circumference of the waist greater than 40 inches (102 cm) and a waist-to-hip ratio of more than 0.9. Symptoms of obesity in women would include a circumference of the waist greater than 35 inches (88 cm) and a waist-to-hip ratio of more than 0.85.

Another sex-associated difference in obesity is percent body fat. Men have more lean muscles because of testosterone, while women have more fat because of estrogen. Therefore, obesity is also characterized as greater than 25% body fat in men and greater than 30% body fat in women.

Additional symptoms of obesity include easy fatigability, shortness of breath, heat intolerance, cold intolerance, and depression. Other symptoms include increased frequency of drinking or urinating. Snoring at night may also serve as a symptom of obesity, particularly if obstructive sleep apnea is already present.

Obesity is also a problem among pets. Symptoms of obesity in pets also include excess weight gain, fatigue, and weakness. Pets cannot voice out their symptoms and owners might have difficulty recognizing obesity symptoms, so regular veterinary checkup is recommended.



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