Obesity: Causes and consequences

Obesity: Causes and consequences
Photo by Sonja Hults

Obesity is a complex health condition caused by a combination of factors. With nearly 1/3 of the world’s population being obese, the problem is not to be overlooked. In addition, medical costs and quality of life are affected.

If a person’s bodyweight is at least 20% higher than what is should be, he or she is considered obese. If a person’s Body Mass Index (BMI), meaning what you should weigh for your height, age, and gender, is 30 or higher, he or she is considered obese.

Obesity is the escalated version of being considered “overweight.” Causes include behaviors and genetics which involve diet, medications, physical activity or inactivity. The leading cause is most likely the fact that we live in a food centered society that has created an environment of constant eating in excess, food promotion and and food marketing.

The most common cause is overeating combined with a lack of activity. Ultimately our body weight is the result of the following in proper balance: genetics, metabolism, environment, behavior, and culture. If one or both parents are obese, that person is more likely to be obese too. Genetically, leptin is the determinant. Leptin is the hormone that controls fat regulation. If the body is not producing enough leptin, it does not send proper signals to tell that person they are full and to stop eating.

Overeating, especially foods high in fat and sugar, contribute to weight gain. Eating too many simple carbohydrates is not good either. Carbs increase blood glucose levels, which then stimulates insulin to be released. Insulin promotes fat tissue growth leading to weight gain. Certain medications like antidepressants, anticonvulsants, corticosteroids, and prednisone, can cause weight gain.

Emotional eating can also lead to weight gain which occurs due to feelings of sadness, boredom, anger, or stress. Certain diseases like hypothyroidism, polycystic ovarian syndrome and Cushing’s syndrome (high levels of cortisol) can lead to obesity.

The list of consequences is tremendous. Obesity is not just a cosmetic condition. Some of these include high blood pressure (hypertension), high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, high levels of triglycerides, coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, breathing problems, sleep apnea, depression and some cancers. The medical costs associated with obesity have racked up to an estimated $147 billion to $210 billion per year. Obesity is also associated with more missed time at work, costing companies nearly $506 per obese worker per year.

The Lifestyle of the FIT and Healthy takes appropriate preventative measures including proper eating and exercise to avoid obesity and its associated health risks. Finding a balanced relationship with exercise and eating contributes to better quality of life. Your body appreciates your attention to these matters and will thank you with proper functioning and an appearance that you like to see in the mirror.

1 Comment
  1. Dallas Broad 6 days ago

    Hello Megan
    My name is Dallas and I enjoyed your article. At present I am a university student in Australia studying reduction-ism in the Popular Press and I was wondering what journal article you sourced your information from.

    Regards Dallas

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