Staying Healthy

What is Obesity? | Obesity Meaning, Causes & Treatments in the UK | Exante

a close up of a burger and chips on a plate

“Obesity now causes more cases of four common cancers than smoking…” (1)

Around 25% of adults in the UK suffer with obesity, but what does ‘being obese’ actually mean? We hope that this blog will help you to understand the condition, how it affects the body and mind and effective obesity treaments in the UK.

What is obesity?

The term ‘obese’ is used to describe a person that is  diagnosed as extremely overweight with a lot of body fat.

Consuming an excess of calories is often one of the main causes of obesity – primarily from sugary, fatty foods that lack in vital nutrients – which you do not burn off during the day (through exercise and normal bodily function).

BMI (body mass index), which assesses whether your weight is healthy in relation to your height, is the most common method used to determine whether a person is obese. While it is not a definitive measure of obesity – as some very muscular people may be categorised as obese according to their BMI – it does provide a good indication as to whether you are overweight or obese.

According to the NHS, this is what BMIs indicate in terms of weight for most adults:

  • Below 18.5 – Underweight range
  • 18.5 to 24.9 – Healthy range
  • 25 to 29.9 – Overweight range
  • 30 to 39.9 –  Obese range

You can calculate your BMI with the exante BMI calculator here.

Who does obesity in the UK affect?

There are numerous causes of obesity in the UK. The increasing availability of poor quality foods lacking in nutrition, and the decreased need for physical activity are two important risk factors.

It is estimated that obesity is a condition that affects around 1 in every 4 adults in the UK, and this condition is a major contributor to preventable disease and death across the globe.

According to Cancer Research UK (2019) “obesity looks set to overtake smoking as the biggest preventable cause of cancer at some point in the future.” (2)

What are some of the main obesity health risks?

Obesity can not only reduce quality of life and the ability to engage physical activity, but also can result in several other health problems, due to the strain that the excess weight places on your body. Obesity has been linked to several severe health risks and diseases, including the following:

  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Some forms of cancer  – the proportion of cases caused by overweight and obesity rose from 5% in 2015 to almost 8% in 2035 (2).

Obesity can also have a negative impact of mental well being, particularly due to the stigma of laziness and self-infliction that is often associated with obesity.

obesity infographic

Obesity treatment & how to prevent obesity

With an effective weight loss programme and dedication, obesity is a condition that can often be prevented and successfully treated. As an obesity treatment, the NHS recommend the following:

  • Consume a balanced, calorie-restricted diet to enter a calorie deficit
  • Take up physical activity for 2.5 to 5 hours a week – this can range from fast walking to swimming
  • Avoid situations in which you may be tempted to over-eat

Very-low-calorie-diets (VLCDs) have been found to be an effective weight loss solution for some people with obesity. VLCDs involve reducing your calorie consumption to 800 or less per day from nutritionally complete sources. This helps you to enter into a significant calorie deficit, in which you consume less calories than you burn off during the day.

VLCDs have been shown to result in both rapid weight loss and reduction in the risk of cardiovascular problems associated with carrying excess weight. It is important that foods consumed on a VLCD are nutritionally complete. This means that they provide you with all the nutrients your body needs to remain healthy while you are losing weight, which is why exante’s meal replacement range are fortified with 27 vitamins and minerals.

It can be difficult to lose weight, especially when we are constantly tempted by unhealthy snacks, takeaways and calorific alcoholic drinks. However, it is far from being unachievable – with dedication and commitment to a nutritionally complete, calorie-controlled diet, it is possible to effectively lose weight.

Head to our exante success stories page for some inspiration from exante customers who have transformed their bodies and improved their health with the help of exante.

(1) Sky News (2019) –

(2) Cancer Research UK (2019) –

Kat Myers

Kat Myers


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