If you've been paying any attention to the news lately, you've likely heard a lot about obesity. But what is obesity and how does it differ from plain old overweight? And why is a little body fat so harmful anyway?

Your weight "status" is roughly determined by your body mass index or BMI, which is a number that compares your weight to your height. A healthy BMI ranges between 18.5 and 24.9, while anything under 18.5 is considered underweight. If your BMI is between 25 and 29.9 you might be considered overweight, depending on your age and muscular status. If it's over 30.0, you've joined the almost 25% of Canadians that are considered obese.

Are you overweight? Check your BMI

So what causes obesity? It's not just a question of eating too much - though that can be a factor. Actually, there are many contributing factors. These can include:

  • consuming more food than your body actually needs
  • not being active enough
  • genetics
  • your metabolism
  • social factors
  • economic factors
  • psychological/emotional factors

So, what's all the fuss and concern? The fact is that obesity has health consequences. The complications resulting from obesity can have a considerable negative effect on the quality and length of a person's life. These complications can also have a significant impact on health care costs. People who are obese are at a higher risk of numerous illnesses, including heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and more.