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Obesity Classification for Asians

Obesity classification

Obesity Classification for Asians

Obesity is a disease with an accumulation of excess and unwanted fats in the body. It is not only a cosmetic concern but also a significant risk factor for diseases like diabetes type two, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, cardiovascular disease, sleep apnea, depression, etc.

The World Obesity Federation has defined obesity as: “Obesity is a complex, misunderstood, serious and chronic disease that requires prevention and management in society irrespective of age, gender or race.”

The Asian population has been facing the epidemic of obesity and its disease-related burdens of diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. This is due to genetics and their low threshold for environmental risk factors compared to the Western population.

Public awareness and education related to the prevention of obesity and facilitation of a healthy lifestyle are the keys to alleviate the extra burden of obesity-related diseases.

What is the classification of obesity for the Asian population?

Obesity is well-defined by the body mass index BMI which calculates a person’s weight in relation to his height. BMI determines the class of obesity and the type of treatment a person requires.

Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines obesity as “weight that is higher than what has considered a healthy weight for a given height is overweight or obese.”

Obesity classification according to the Asian population is given as follows:


Category BMI
Underweight Less than 18.5
Normal Weight 18.5 to 23.5
Overweight 23.6 to 27.5
Obesity Class 1 (Obesity) 27.6 to 32.5
Obesity Class 2 (Serious Obesity) 32.6 to 37.5
Obesity Class 3 (Severe /Morbid Obesity) 37.6 or higher


What are the causes of obesity?

Obesity is a treatable and preventable disease. There are many causes of obesity. Ruling out the right cause helps us to overcome obesity.

Generally, genetics, environment, medical conditions, inactive lifestyle, dietary problems, inability to sleep, and hormonal imbalance are common causes of obesity.

Some specific causes of obesity among the Asian population are:

  •         A greater percentage of fat at any given BMI with increased cardiovascular risk.
  •         Asians are more likely to cultivate central obesity associated with dyslipidemia, impaired glucose tolerance, type two diabetes, and cardiovascular disorder, etc.
  •         Less physical activity among Asians as compared to the Caucasian population.

Adiposity in the Asian population

Adiposity is defined as the amount of fat that is deposited under the body surface.

Based on the genetics and the environmental risk factors for the Asian population, the World Health Organization has defined an average BMI of 18.5-22kg/m2. This suggests a low BMI range for the Asian population compared to other populations. Despite this, there is an increased risk of glucose intolerance among Asians. Studies have revealed an increased risk of diabetes among the Asian population with a BMI of more than 23kg/m2.

Central obesity is one with increased fat deposition in the abdominal region. Asians have higher total and central adiposity for given body weight when compared to the matched white population. The higher prevalence of metabolic syndrome is also due to increased central obesity among Asians.

Overcoming obesity

Obesity may have various risk factors among the different populations, but it has standard preventable and treatment options. Depending upon the class of obesity according to BMI, dietary changes and lifestyle modifications are the most common ways of overcoming obesity. Furthermore, depending upon the criteria met for bariatric surgery, candidates can opt for this operation to treat obesity.


Obesity is a global problem. Various factors contribute to obesity. The causes and risk factors vary according to ethnicity and race. The Asian population has a different classification for obesity than other populations. Genetic and environmental factors contribute to obesity prevalence in a particular population. Overcoming the risk factors and spreading public awareness for the prevention and treatment of obesity will help us to reduce the disease-related burdens and promote a healthy lifestyle among the general population.

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