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Hormone & metabolism centre: information about obesity

Excess weight as a result of endocrine diseases

The primary causes of obesity are insufficient exercise and a poor diet. Excess weight (obesity) is a widespread problem. The terms obesity or adiposity are derived from the Latin word ‘adipositas’. A patient’s girth becomes a problem when it leads to subsequent diseases such as cardiovascular complaints, stroke, type 2 diabetes or osteoarthritis.

Different methods are available for evaluating body weight accordingly. The Body Mass Index (BMI) is well-known. As long as the patient’s weight does not deviate extensively from the normal value, weight reduction is not really necessary from a medical perspective. If obesity leads to health impairments, however, a physician should be consulted. Key steps to improving an unhealthy lifestyle include: more sport and exercise, less fat and alcohol, a balanced diet and sufficient sleep.

Obesity: when is a patient considered obese?

Physicians use the abdominal girth or waist size to diagnose obesity. It is measured roughly in the middle between the lower costal arch and the upper edge of the hip bone. In males, an abdominal girth of more than 94 cm is regarded as high-risk obesity. In females, the risk of subsequent diseases is deemed higher with an abdominal girth of 80 cm or higher. The waist-to-hip ratio, measured in centimetres, is also used.

At the hormone & metabolism centre in Mainz, the body composition can also be measured by means of whole body DXA.

Endocrinological exclusion diagnosis with obesity

Obesity can be due to a number of causes. Lifestyle, certain prior diseases and diet play a role, but a metabolic disease may also be the cause. In rare cases, obesity is due to hormonal causes. If, for example, hypothyroidism or adrenal cortex hypofunction are present, this can lead to obesity. Tumours, trauma, operations or radiation treatment of the hypothalamus can also trigger obesity.

Endocrinological exclusion diagnosis should be taken into consideration whenever the causes of obesity cannot be identified with certainty.

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