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Obesity: Overview

  • By: Elizabeth B. Jones & Kyle L. Thompson
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

Obesity is a term used to describe a condition that occurs when the weight of children or adults in relation to height exceeds levels that are thought to be compatible with optimal health. Obesity is considered both a chronic disease and a major worldwide health problem. When thinking about obesity, communication is an important social factor that influences causes, treatment, and perceptions of obesity at macro- and microlevels. The relationship between obesity and communication is complex.

Definition

Obesity is commonly defined in terms of body mass index (BMI), which is quantified as: BMI = weight in kilograms/(height in meters)2. In English units, BMI = [weight in pounds/(height in inches)2] × 703. BMI provides an estimate of body fatness. In adults, overweight is diagnosed when BMI is more ...

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