WHAT IS OBESITY?
The definition of obesity is having an excess of adipose tissue (too much fat). When one’s weight exceeds 20% higher than what is considered normal and healthy, they are considered to be obese. You can see what is considered a healthy weight on the chart below.
As of 2017, as estimated 36.5% of U.S. adults have obesity. That is 1 in 3 American adults. As a nation we are spending over $147 billion a year to treat obesity and resulting medical conditions. (1)
Most physicians use Body Mass Index (BMI) to roughly gauge whether a patient is too thin, normal, overweight or obese. It is not a perfect means of measurement because it only takes weight and height into consideration and not muscle, skeletal structure or fitness level into account.
If you have a BMI between 25-29.9 you are considered overweight. If it is above 30 then you are considered obese. If you know your weight and height you can get a general idea of where you fall on the scale. Remember, this is not a perfect method, but can give you a general idea of what a doctor might say about your weight.
MOST COMMON CAUSES OF OBESITY
Why are some people more susceptibility to obesity than others? Some sources say it is a simple matter of calories in versus calories out, but research does not back this up for the majority of cases. Certainly overeating plays a role in obesity but it is only one of a myriad of factors. Two people may consume the same amount of calories and weigh completely different.
Let’s look at the most common causes of obesity. In most obese patients I see, there are multiple factors that lead to their condition.
Genetic changes occur too slowly to have a true effect on the current obesity epidemic. However, your genes can still play a role. Your body receives instructions from your genes how to respond to changes in its environment. Therefore, they may contribute to an increased level of hunger or food intake. (4, 5)
While it is important to eat enough instead of nibbling, eating more calories than your body requires on a regular basis will result in weight gain. Food is also not created equal. What you eat is important. If you are eating healthy whole foods instead of processed junk food, you are less likely to overeat. (11)
Your body needs movement to build muscles, function properly, and yes, to burn calories. Research has found that lack of exercise is correlated with weight gain and obesity. When you’re sitting around, you are also more likely to eat emotionally or out of boredom, even though a sedentary body needs much fewer calories to survive than an active one. (12)
Certain medications may increase your appetite resulting in weight gain or obesity. Other medications may lead to minor changes in your weight or extra water weight. Some medications, including steroids, may lead to more extensive weight gain. (6)
Stress, sadness, and certain mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and eating disorders, can lead to overeating or binge eating that may result in obesity.
Certain illnesses, including Cushing disease and polycystic ovary syndrome, may lead to weight gain or obesity. Untreated thyroid functions may also lead to weight gain. (6)
Research shows that those who have obese friends are more likely to become overweight or obese themselves due to mimicking their eating behaviors. Participating in too many social gatherings and outings that involves large amounts of unhealthy foods can lead to obesity as well. On the other hand, social isolation may lead to emotional eating resulting in weight gain. (7, 8, 9)
WHY OBESITY IS DANGEROUS
Obesity is a worldwide problem. It does not only affect Western countries and societies but every nation on the planet. The problem with obesity is not about vanity, but about your health. Research evidence links obesity with a list of serious health conditions as well as increased mortality. (13, 14, 15)
Obesity has been linked to and can increase your risk of the following conditions (13):
- Coronary Heart Disease
- Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Sleep Apnea
- Cerebrovascular Disease
- Metabolic Syndrome
- Pulmonary Abnormalities
- Gastrointestinal Abnormalities
- Infertility/Menstrual Irregularities
To learn my 5 Step Weight Loss Plan, see the article on obesity above.