Excess Weight And Obesity: Differences and Similarities

It’s important to know the differences between obesity and excess weight. Their contraindications are considerably different, along with the negative effects they have on our health.
Excess Weight And Obesity: Differences and Similarities

Last update: 04 September, 2018

We often confuse obesity and being overweight. Although they have factors in common, they’re clearly different in terms of how serious they both are. Let’s analyze what their differences and similarities are, as well as the consequences that they entail.


Woman suffering form obesity.

Obesity is the relation between weight and height, with more than three standard deviations, above the average. This was established in the WHO Child Growth Standards.

It’s a chronic illness that appears when there’s an excess of  body  fat. This illness has negative effects that promote the appearance of other conditions, such as: diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular complications and even different types of cancer, especially in the gastrointestinal tract.

Experts believe that people whose weight equals, or exceeds the midpoint of the Body Mass Index (BMI) scale by 30 percent or more, are obese. Except in the instance of people who are very muscular.

Causes of obesity

  • Unhealthy nutrition: an excess of fats in their diet, and eating at the wrong time.
  • Lack of physical exercise: it’s advisable to workout at least three times a week.
  • Genetic factors: gene mutations, and a person’s metabolic rate.
  • Organic factors: insulin resistance, and low leptin levels.
  • Socioeconomic factors: fast foods and foods with a high fat content tend to cost less than fruits and vegetables. Also, it’s been proven that people with a higher social status have more time for diets or workout routines.
  • Physiological factors (emotional disorder): this can include factors such as, depression, and comfort eating; foods that make you feel better when you eat.

Symptoms of obesity

  • Difficulty breathing: because excessive fat accumulates under the diaphragm and in the chest wall and can put pressure on the lungs.
  • Laziness: the difficulty to breath can interfere with sleep quality, which causes sleep apnea and consequently, drowsiness during the day.
  • Orthopedic problems: such as back pain and arthrosis, especially in the ankles, knees and hips.
  • Cutaneous conditions: since obese people are unable to cool down their body efficiently and they tend to sweat excessively.
  • Swelling.

Obesity Prevention

  • Healthy and balanced diet: every diet must be low in fat and include plenty of fruits and vegetables.
  • Exercise regularly: it’s advisable to practice a sport three times a week, for forty-five minutes each session. Adapting the intensity to the needs and physical condition of each person.
  • Eat five times a day, in small portions.

Types of obesity

There are two different kinds of obesity. Central obesity, which is the most serious, and can lead to pathological complications, where fat is stored in the torso. And peripheral obesity, where fat accumulates from the waist down and causes overload and pressure on the joints.

Morbid obesity

In order to treat morbid obesity, the patient has to undergo surgery. There are two types of surgery: restrictive and malabsorptive surgery. Restrictive surgery involves reducing the size of the stomach, so that the patient can’t eat large amounts of food. Malabsorptive surgery (also known as a gastric bypass) is aimed at limiting food absorption (and therefore, the amount of nutrients that our body absorbs).

Childhood obesity

This is an endocrine and metabolic abnormality that leads to a higher risk of cardiovascular problems during adulthood.

Excess weight

Person with a huge belly.

Excess weight is the relation between weight and height, with more than two standard deviations above the average. This guideline has also been established in the WHO Child Growth Patterns.

Experts believe that people whose weight equals or exceeds twenty-five percent of the midpoint of the Body Mass Index (BMI), are overweight.

Excess weight is characterized by an increase in body weight, that’s accompanied by the accumulation of body fat. Experts don’t consider it to be an illness, but a factor that can lead to developed conditions, such as: diabetes, hypertension, heart attack and some types of cancer.

It’s also been defined as a weight that’s ten to twenty percent greater than our height in centimeters.

Although obesity and being overweight aren’t the same thing, their causes, symptoms and preventive methods are very similar. Therefore, the most important method to prevent it, is to eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly, regardless of genetic and socioeconomic factors.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.