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Physical Constitutions and Obesity

Two types of physical constitutions have a tendency to become obese: hot-damp and cold-damp types. People with hot-dry physical constitutions never become overweight no matter what or how much they eat; as a group they are practically free of obesity. The ultimate goal, therefore, is to make the physical constitutions of overweight people hot and dry. Overweight people usually have a damp physical constitution; they retain an excessive amount of water in the body, making them overweight. See section on "What are the different body constitutions in TCM?"

Physical constitutions are also affected by congenital (inherited) and acquired factors. Other factors, such as a person's metabolism, organ functioning and other body structures, all determine the body's susceptibility to external physical factors and pathogens, which can contribute to the development of obesity. Many things have to be taken into account when calculating a specific ideal body weight.

Excess obesity body type
Deficiency obesity body type

Two other TCM terms related to our body's constitution: excess (shi) and deficiency (xu) type also affect a person's propensity to become obese. Individuals with an excess obesity type body have a good appetite. They eat a lot and their metabolic rate is rapid which allows excessive amounts of nutrients to be absorbed resulting in building up fatty tissue inside the body if their intake is excessive. This type of obesity may present with muscular and strong physiques. Individuals with a deficiency type of obese body have a normal or little appetite. Their metabolic rates are slow and when combined with inadequate physical exercise, they tend to become overweight. This type of obese body may look flabby or have a bloated appearance.

TCM considers the correct consumption of food according to one's body type important to good health, vitality, and the maintenance of a balanced weight. Indeed, the Chinese system of "functional foods", in which therapeutic benefits are allocated to certain foods according to the yin yang and five elements theories, is crucial to all treatments utilized in TCM. Obviously, the approaches of treatment will be different depending on a person's body constitution.