What are the demographics of obesity

Obesity (obesity, Obesity, Obesity)

Obesity is a chronic condition that is associated with an excessive accumulation of adipose tissue in the body. The incidence of obesity increases significantly with age. In Austria, 23% of men and 24% of women are already obese.

Short version:

  • One speaks of obesity when the BMI exceeds 30.
  • The most common causes of obesity are genetic factors, eating habits, and lifestyle.
  • Obesity can trigger accompanying and secondary diseases.
  • The main goal of obesity treatment is long-term weight loss.

When does one speak of obesity?

Anyone who has a body mass index (BMI) of over 30 is overweight. Obesity represents a high risk factor for the development of cardiovascular diseases, stroke and diabetes. The danger of obesity lies in its physical and mental complications, which often result in a shorter life expectancy.

The body mass index (BMI) is used as a measure of excess weight

BMI = weight / height²

Normal weight19-25                                        
Obesity (obesity)over 30

+++ Here you can calculate your BMI +++

In addition to the BMI, the fat distribution pattern also determines the health risk for metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. In the "female" distribution pattern, the fat accumulates mainly on the hips and thighs (pear shape), in the "male" it tends to accumulate on the body trunk (apple shape).

+++ Are you an apple or a pear type? +++

However, the abdominal fat deposit poses a greater health risk and can be measured by determining the waist size. A so-called "abdominal obesity" occurs in women with a waist circumference of 88 cm or more and in men from 101 cm.

+++ More on the topic: waist circumference - centimeters are more important than kilos +++

Causes of Obesity

The causes of obesity are many. Usually several factors are involved in the development. In addition to genetic predisposition, the diet and lifestyle of those affected play an important role.

The excessive accumulation of adipose tissue is due to an increased intake of calories in the form of fat, sugar and energy-rich foods, which permanently exceeds the body's energy consumption. The body converts the excess energy into fat and stores it.

What are the risk factors for obesity?

Psychosocial Aspects of Obesity

Obesity is not just a medical or physical problem - obese people often suffer conspicuously from negative stigma and discrimination. Often obese people are judged negatively by their environment.

Which concomitant or secondary illnesses can occur?

Weight loss does not always reverse the consequences of obesity.

How do you prevent obesity?

The best prevention of obesity is regular weight control. An increase in weight above normal weight should be prevented. In addition to the BMI, the waist circumference is also a good parameter for identifying weight problems.

For women, the waist circumference should not exceed 80 cm, for men 94 cm. Any weight loss or stabilization is based on needs-based nutrition, regular physical activity and regular weight control.

Recommendations for weight reduction and stabilization:

  1. Avoiding large portions and frequent consumption of high-fat foods such as meat, sausage, cheese, baked goods, ready-made products, fast food, cream, chocolate, chips
  2. Reduction of the amount of fat, preference for vegetable fats, oils, nuts, seeds
  3. Frequent consumption of high-fiber and low-fat foods (whole grain products) as well as vegetables, fresh fruit and salads
  4. Calorie-free instead of sugary drinks
  5. Limit alcohol consumption, no more than one or two small glasses a day
  6. Check your body weight regularly
  7. At the beginning of nutritional therapy, the energy intake should be reduced by 500–800 kcal / day, mainly by reducing the portion sizes and choosing low-energy foods.
  8. Recording of meals and drinks as well as regular meal rhythm
  9. Regular physical exercise (endurance instead of strength training)

+++ More on the topic: Weight loss tips +++

How do you treat obesity?

The main goal of treatment is long-term weight reduction and stabilization. Short-term crash diets do not bring long-term success. Successful therapy requires insight and active cooperation on the part of those affected.

Nutritional counseling, behavior therapy and regular exercise are the cornerstones of successful treatment. As part of behavior therapy, people relearn how to feel hungry and satiated, while movement training aims to improve endurance.

If, after longstanding problems, despite the therapeutic measures mentioned, no satisfactory weight reduction is achieved, medical or surgical measures can be used.

+++ More on the topic: Therapy of obesity +++

Drug therapies

Drug therapies are suitable for patients who do not lose enough weight in spite of sufficient physical activity. Weight-reducing drugs are used in people with a BMI over 30, or a BMI over 27 with existing comorbidities. Medicines with an appetite suppressant effect or those that reduce the absorption of fat in the intestine are available.

+++ More on the topic: Obesity treatment with medication +++

Surgical therapy

Surgical therapy is only indicated if the BMI is over 40 or if the BMI is over 35 if there are already existing comorbidities. A basic requirement is also the willingness of the patient to participate in follow-up programs. In childhood and adolescence, surgical measures are still considered experimental therapy.

Gastric tube

Two thirds of the stomach, and thus also hormone-active cells that are responsible for the feeling of hunger, are removed. This automatically reduces the volume of food you eat per meal.

Gastric balloon

A gastric balloon is only suitable for patients who are very overweight (i.e. a BMI over 60). It is placed in the stomach for a period of three months. The aim is to reduce the weight to a BMI below 60, since only then can appropriate operations such as gastric tube or gastric bypass be performed safely.

Gastric banding

The laparoscopically adjustable gastric bands are a good therapeutic option for adolescents suffering from obesity with significant comorbidities. Although this surgery has been very popular so far, studies have shown that gastric bypass surgery is more suitable for sustained weight loss.

Gastric bypass

The stomach is divided so that the food only reaches the upper part of the stomach, which quickly signals satiety. The rest of the chyme is passed through a loop of the small intestine past the rest of the stomach.

As a result, the body absorbs less nutrients. Gastric bypass is suitable for patients with irregular eating habits or patients who continue to eat large amounts of food despite dietary advice.

This operation leads to a significant reduction in appetite in the first six months. The disadvantages of gastric bypass operations are the possible long-term deficiency of micronutrients (iron, calcium, B vitamins) and a slightly higher risk of mortality and morbidity compared to purely restrictive operations.

+++ More on the topic: gastric bypass +++


Liposuction is a plastic surgery procedure that can be used to locally remove excess fat, but is not suitable for treating obesity.

+++ More on the topic: Liposuction +++

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Prof. Dr. Hermann Toplak (2004), Dr. Katharina Heinrich (2004), Astrid Leitner (2017)
Medical review:
Univ. Prof. Dr. Kathrin Sevecke
Editorial editing:
Nicole Kolisch

Status of medical information:

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ICD-10: E66.0