Description: Increased body fat.
Persons most commonly affected: All age groups and both sexes.
Organ or part of body involved: Whole body.
Symptoms and indications: Accumulation of excess body fat changes overall appearance. Severely adipose people often walk abnormally to accommodate their weight. They widen their stance, making walking less steady and stressing the joints. As a result, osteoarthritis may develop or worsen, particularly in the hips, knees, and ankles, and walking may become even more difficult. Low back pain may also result. Fatigue is common. Physical and social activities may be decreased because of fatigue, lack of mobility, or other complications. The feet and ankles often swell because fluid accumulates (a condition called edema).
Because adipose people have relatively little body surface for their weight, they cannot eliminate body heat efficiently and they sweat more than thinner people. Skin disorders are particularly common because moisture is trapped in skin folds.
Adipose people may have difficulty breathing and may become short of breath, even when exertion is minimal. These problems occur when the lungs are compressed by accumulation of excess fat below the diaphragm (the muscle that divides the chest from the abdomen) and in the chest wall. Furthermore, airflow may be reduced if excess fat accumulates in the tissues that line the throat, narrowing the airway. Sleeping on the back makes breathing even more difficult (regardless of weight). Breathing problems may disturb sleep, and breathing may stop momentarily but repeatedly (a condition called sleep apnea (see Sleep Disorders: Sleep Apnea Syndromes). Sleep apnea can lead to daytime sleepiness and other problems, such as high blood pressure and strokes.
Causes and risk factors: Chief cause of adiposity is overeating i.e., the intake of calories beyond the body's energy requirement. It is rarely the result of disturbances of the thyroid or pituitary glands. Adipose persons are susceptible to several diseases like coronary thrombosis, heart failure, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, gout, liver and gallbladder disorders.
Prevention: Avoidance of high-fat foods such as butter, cheese, chocolates, cream, ice cream, fat meats, fried foods and curries, high-carbohydrated foods like bread, candy, cake, cookies, cereal products, legumes, potatoes, sugar, sweet syrups and puddings, beverages such as all soft drinks and alcoholic drinks. Regular exercise such as walking, swimming, bicycling also prevents adiposity.