In the wake of America’s obesity epidemic and an effort to better understand the disease, researchers have tirelessly studied individuals who fall into the obese weight range. Because we as human beings have such unique body shapes and body parts that seem to stubbornly store fat, truly understanding obesity has proven to be a big challenge. However, after the completion of a recent study, researchers are now suggesting that body mass index (BMI) is not necessarily the only way to measure or identify obesity.

What Is Obesity? Researchers Find It’s More Nuanced Than Previously Thought

In the April 2015 research study published in the Journal of Public Health, researchers examined 4,144 obese adults’ data from the Yorkshire Health Study.[1] As they sought to categorize different types of obesity according to health and lifestyle characteristics, their chief aim was to pave the way for more individualized treatment plans. After all, we live in a world with a diversity of body types the require diverse approaches to help.

Of the 4,000+ obese adults, they had an average age of 56-years-old and a BMI over 30 (with an average of 34); most of the participants (58 percent) were female.[1] However, even though body mass index (which is determined by height and weight) is a decent gauge for obesity, it’s too vague a figure.

Understanding Obesity: The 6 Types of Obese Person

According to the study, researchers concluded that there are generally 6 different types of obesity. The categories, considered health and lifestyle characteristics instead of just height and weight, consisted of:[1]

1) Young Healthy Females

Location of the Fat: Thighs, hips, and breasts

Solution: The risk of developing type 2 diabetes is heightened when you start gaining weight and vice versa. So, it’s helpful to lower your sugar intake (of refined sugars especially). Here are 5 helpful ways to take control of high blood sugar that can be linked to obesity.

Another potential cause of obesity in healthy, young women is the use of birth control. It will vary from person to person and the specific birth control pill they’re taking, but they can alter your hormones.[2-4] When your hormones get out of whack, the imbalance can trigger mental illnesses such as depression and can also lead to unexpected and seemingly uncontrollable weight gain.

Many of you women can probably relate to the fact that sometimes, your weight gain is caused by fluid retention due to estrogen-induced fat deposits that result in the thighs, hips, and breasts.[5] In that case, you can help remedy the situation by using essential oils or increasing circulation via exercise.

2) Heavy-Drinking Males

Location of the Fat: Gut (a.k.a. “beer belly”)

Solution: In a 2014 study published in the American Journal of Public Health, researchers found “that alcohol consumption may represent a sizable risk factor for weight gain.” In fact, “the odds of obesity were significantly higher with increased consumption of alcohol calories.”[6]

You can see how a ‘beer belly’ can quickly start to form. But don’t worry, there’s a way you can get rid of it! A great way to start is by simply cutting it out of your diet for as little as 7 days. Chances are those excess pounds are taking a toll on your joints, too. So instead of jogging and causing even more joint pain, try these 9 fat-burning exercises that won’t hurt your joints. Soon enough, that beer belly will start to shrink.

3) Unhappy and Anxious Middle-Aged People

Location of the Fat: Lower belly

Solution: There has been a growing body of research into the connection between stress, anxiety, and weight gain. In a May 2009 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers examined a total of 1,355 American men and women for almost a decade.[7]

They found that in the case of stress and anxiety caused by work, personal relationships, life constraints and finances, over the nine-year study, there was a statistically significant increase in weight gain.

Unhappy and anxious people tend to store weight in their lower abdomen, largely due to the high level of cortisol frequently running through their bodies. While that tummy pouch seems stubborn, learning to effectively deal with stress, using vetiver oil, and drinking green tea can slowly but surely eliminate that lower belly fat.

4) Affluent and Healthy Elderly People

Location of the Fat: Full upper body fat (especially around the belly, back, shoulders, and arms)

Solution: People who fall into this category tend to eat and drink very well, although “very well” does not always mean very healthy. So, if you have a lot of full upper body fat, it’s likely thanks to overconsumption of calories. While it will be challenging to start losing, it’s not impossible!

A great and easy place to start is not consuming so much refined sugar food products and sugar-rich drinks. Yes, that includes wine and other alcoholic beverages like beer and cocktails. It may be a hard truth for some, but give alcohol up for 2 weeks and see what happens. Next, start getting active again! Even doing 10-minute aerobic activities in the comfort of your home for as little as half an hour every day will work wonders for your weight.

5) Physically Sick but Happy Elderly People

Location of the Fat: Lower body (hips, buttocks, thighs, and calves)

Solution: As you get older, no matter how active you want to be, chances are you will be limited. Whether it’s a physical or mental limitation, it’s important to do what you can or else obesity can sneak up on you.

If you’re dealing with chronic diseases like arthritis that keep you sedentary, your circulation slows down which can result in vein problems that cause swelling and weight gain in your calves, thighs, and buttocks. To fight excess weight gain and even more pain, try these 6 circultion-boosting exercises you can do sitting down and consider cutting out salty foods which cause fluid retention.

6) Poorest Health

Location of the Fat: Whole belly and upper back

Solution: When your overall health is lacking, it’s extremely challenging to deal with any given health problem because they tend to snowball. In the case of obesity, someone with poor health may experience weight gain in their stomach area and upper back which is a combination of poor diet and inactivity.

The two most important things you can start doing immediately is to try to get better sleeps and cut down on processed foods. While irregular sleep patterns can trigger hormones that lead to weight gain, processed foods contain inflammatory ingredients that may cause disease and further pain.

Get active, too! Putting these 8 simple exercises can almost immediately help you start losing weight. If you stay committed, you may even drop 10 pounds within a couple of weeks. You can find the exercises here.

As the researchers say…

The study we just went through is not the be all end all. Who knows, they could eventually find more types of obesity or decide there’s actually less. The good news is, you can start implementing the lifestyle tweaks above today to start seeing results!