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Obesity means someone is very overweight. It’s a big health problem which can lead to a poor quality of life, and some life threatening illness including heart attacks, cancers and diabetes.

It can be caused by the genes you’re born with, an illness, or medication you’re taking for something else.

But that’s not usually the case; it’s almost always caused by consuming too much such as taking in food and drink which contain more calories than you need to give you the energy for your lifestyle. Most men need 2,500 calories a day, most women need 2,000.

You can check if you’re obese by measuring your weight and your height and working out your BMI, or body mass index. Take your weight in kilograms and divide that number by your height in metres squared.

If your BMI is between 25 and 29, you’re overweight. If it’s between 30 and 40 you are obese. And if it’s over 40 you are morbidly obese.

In all but the most serious cases the best treatment is gradually losing weight through a combination of a healthy diet which reduces the number of calories you eat, and regular exercise which will burn-off more calories too.

Of course, it’s useful to look at food labels and to avoid fatty or fried foods, and alcohol. It’s also helpful to work out when and why you eat too much, and to make changes. For example, it’s common to eat too much as a comfort if you are depressed.

Some people get one-to-one help from a trainer or dietician and others lose weight by joining a weight loss group. You can also use smartphone apps to track progress.

To lose weight safely you should get advice from your doctor and as a last resort they might offer medication or surgery.

If you are obese you are in danger of a long list of conditions including:

  • cancer
  • stroke
  • diabetes
  • heart disease
  • high blood pressure
  • infertility
  • asthma
  • osteoarthritis – a condition that affects the joints
  • back pain
  • depression
  • liver Disease
  • kidney Disease
  • sleep apnoea – a condition that causes interrupted breathing during sleep
  • gastro-oesophageal reflux disease This BSL health clip was made by SignHealth with information from NHS Choices. For further information or advice, please go to www.nhs.uk/conditions/obesity/