Obesity is a silent killer. No one likes to be called obese, right?
We know how badly everyone wishes to shed that extra body fat.
Obesity is considered a complex disease that involves an excess of body fat.
Adults are considered obese if they have a Body Mass Index(BMI) of over 30.
BMI over 40 signifies morbid obesity.
Your body mass index is a measurement of your weight and height to calculate your body size and a BMI over 30 signifies obesity.
However, obesity is not limited to a cosmetic or beauty concern. In fact, it is a medical concern.
The risk of obesity can lead to many diseases such as cardiac problems, diabetes, cancer and high blood pressure.
The centers for disease control say that around 42.4 percent of Americans in the United States, above the age of 20 are obese.
You divide the weight by height in pounds and inches respectively and then multiply by 703 to calculate BMI.
However, BMI is a limited calculator.
Your body fat can differ and depend on factors such as age, sex and muscle mass.
BMI does not distinguish between body mass and fat hence, it is limited yet it is followed.
Obesity in Children
Around 13.7 million children over the age of 2 and under the age of 19 were obese in America between 2015 and 2016.
Children are considered obese if they are over 2 years old and their BMI is in the 95th percentile among children of the same age and sex.
Children among the 5 and 85 percentile are considered to have normal weight and 85 to 95 are considered overweight.
Avoiding obesity goes beyond eating healthy. Some people inherit the tendency to gain body fat.
For others it is a mixture of environmental, diet and exercise factors.
However, some weight loss can prevent at least the health problems associated with obesity.
What Causes Obesity?
Essentially you get obese when you take more calories than you burn.
You can burn calories through exercise and during your normal daily routine to prevent excess weight.
But if you don’t, these calories are stored as fat.
Obviously, factors like genetic makeup, sex and medical conditions can also influence your body fat buildup that cannot be controlled.
Eating and Lifestyle Habits
If you consume high-calorie food regularly and have low physical activity, there is a chance you will get obese.
You will gain weight from eating high-calorie beverages, fast foods, fried foods, junk food.
Moreover, eating an oversized portion will also contribute to weight gain.
Avoiding healthy fruits and vegetables and consuming meat and oily foods will keep increasing the number on the weighing scale.
Alcohol and carbonated and sugary drinks have high calories that do not even make you full.
They contribute to a lot of weight gain even if they do not satiate you.
Avoiding exercise and staying inactive will not burn calories.
If you have a sedentary lifestyle, remain seated in front of the laptop for long, exercise less or none at all and are generally inactive then you will soon experience a weight gain.
The calories you ate are not being burned. Hence they are being stored as fat, making you obese.
Physical activity decreases naturally as you age.
Moreover, hormonal changes and medical conditions can affect your body weight.
The muscle mass also decreases which leads to reduced metabolism.
Calorie needs to decrease and it becomes harder to not gain excess fat.
Hence, you should keep a controlled diet and be physically active to avoid obesity.
Your inherited genes affect your ability to store fat and its distribution.
Moreover, your genetics contribute to the efficiency in converting food into energy, burning calories in your body as well as regulating and generating the appetite.
You may have come across families who are all obese.
While genetics is a contributing factor, it is also because they may share the same unhealthy eating and lifestyle habits.
Medical Conditions and Medications
Obesity can result from hormonal issues, medical conditions like Cushing syndrome and hypothyroid.
Moreover diseases like arthritis that decreases physical activity hence leading to weight gain.
Medications like steroids, anti-depressants and diabetes medication can increase weight. This weight needs to be controlled with a proper diet and physical exercise.
You can become obese due to:
- Socio-economic Factors
You are privileged to have access to exercise and eating healthy foods and maybe your social circle is also supportive.
However, it is possible that not everyone has access to space and time for exercise and physical activity.
Moreover, if your friends and family are overweight, you may adopt their eating habits too.
Hence, society and financial conditions influence your weight gain.
- Stopping Smoking
People deal with smoking withdrawals by eating food.
That is why people who have quit smoking will see an increase in weight for a few months or years.
However, quitting smoking has more benefits than continuing it so you can always consult a dietician or a doctor for a healthy food plan after you have quit to deal with withdrawals and not overeat.
External and environmental factors affect your mood which also leads to weight gain.
You may consume high-calorie food in stressful conditions.
You may not be shedding your worries through exercise either, therefore you will see the number go high on the weighing scale.
Women inevitably gain weight during pregnancy. However, this weight gain can turn into obesity if not shed timely.
Most women find it hard to do so immediately. Although, one way is to breastfeed.
Breastfeeding helps women lose some calories.
- Inadequate Sleep
Less sleep or more sleep can change hormones that increase appetite.
It also increases high calorie and high carb foods craving. Which, if consumed will increase weight.
- Previously Attempted Diet and Weight Loss
If you lost weight and then regained it rapidly, you may now keep gaining even more weight.
The gut bacteria can influence your weight gain.
Your diet influences them and it can reduce your tendency to lose weight.
Complications and Health Problems
Obesity is the root cause of other serious health diseases.
One of the most common is heart disease.
More body fat increases blood pressure and cholesterol levels which are risk factors for cardiac diseases and stroke.
It can further increase the risks of digestive system problems like heartburn and liver problems.
Obesity influences the insulin usage of the body. This can lead to insulin resistance, hence, type 2 diabetes.
It can also cause infertility in women as well as issues in the menstrual cycle. Men can also face issues like erectile dysfunction.
Obesity increases the risk of getting breast, uterus, gallbladder, liver, colon, pancreas, rectum and kidney cancer.
Obese people face sleep apnea. This is a condition where breathing stops and starts again while sleeping.
Obesity places a lot of stress on joints that bear the weights. Alongside causing inflammation. This leads to osteoarthritis.
Unfortunately, people associate obesity with shame and guilt. Therefore, obese people are more likely to get into depression and anxiety.
They exempt themselves from social activities hence, socializing less and isolating themselves more.
Obesity can also become a disability. People weighing over 150 kilograms may find it hard to move and carry out their daily tasks.
Overall, obesity affects your quality of life.
In a society that values slimness and the perfect figure, you can feel that you are a misfit.
But obesity is not just being fat, it is a medical worrisome condition and there are proper treatments to cure it.
Your doctor will first take a physical exam and your history to check for a few things.
These include your previous attempts at weight loss, your eating habits, medical conditions and if you have been predisposed to some conditions due to genetics.
The physical exam includes checking your vital signs, BMI and blood pressure.
Your doctor will also measure your abdominal fat. This is the waist circumference and is responsible for obesity complications like diabetes and heart issues.
Women’s waist around 35 inches and men’s waist around 40 inches pose more health risks.
You may be told to get blood tests in order to check your blood glucose levels or issues in the liver or thyroid.
This diagnosis helps to identify the amount of weight loss required and what conditions already exist so that it helps in treating obesity.
Treatment of Obesity
The ultimate goal of treatment is to reduce your extra weight and to maintain a healthy weight.
You will require external help from a nutritionist, dietician, or exercise trainer to achieve and stay focused on your goals.
Initially, you should aim to lose around 5 to 10 percent weight.
Drastic weight loss is usually unachievable through only improving eating habits and physical activity.
You will require surgeries like bariatric surgery for that.
You will have to control your eating habits first.
Take note of the calories you consume in a day and reduce them according to a plan by your dietician.
Women usually require 100 to 1500 calories in a day and men around 1500 to 1800.
Do not exceed this limit and stay consistent with your diet plan.
Moreover, eat more plant-based foods and fruits and vegetables. This organic food makes you feel full on less therefore, you will easily feel satiated.
Junk and fast food are alright once in a while but not regularly. Plus, they have so high calories that you may end up gaining more than losing so it is better to avoid them.
Also, have some patience, obesity has no quick fix.
You may be recommended to try diets that help you lose weight fast but losing weight itself is a time taking process.
Hence, do not fall for such fad diets that are only short term.
Once you have maintained a proper meal plan, continue it till you have reached your desired weight.
Obese people need 150 hours of exercise a week and if you want to lose a good amount then around 300 minutes can also be required.
Only exercise and only diet will not help in bringing long term results.
You need to do these two together to get rid of obesity.
However, you also need to maintain this as a habit.
In the first week, you will have cramps and will find it difficult to move your stiff body. But eventually, you will have more endurance and build up more stamina.
You can also incorporate physical activity into your daily routine.
Park that car a little far, water your garden, run supermarket errands, use a pedometer to track your daily steps.
This way your body will always be active.
Obesity cannot be solely controlled by conscious effort.
There can be underlying mental issues that bring you back into the spiral of obesity.
Try consulting a therapist to address these issues.
Moreover, support groups of people going through the same issue can also help provide you comfort and motivation and eventually induce behavioral change.
Medications and Surgery
Weight loss medications help you curb hunger and reduce the lack of fullness signal one gets while losing weight.
These medications are not used instead of exercise and diet but with them. They cannot be used as a standalone solution to obesity.
Medications like Orlistat and Liraglutide will be prescribed by your doctor after a thorough medical history.
Weight loss surgeries are usually used on people suffering from morbid obesity.
A gastric bypass surgery allows you to have a small pouch above a stomach that is connected to the intestine.
This way, food passes directly from the pouch to the small intestine without entering most of the stomach.
In gastric sleeve surgery, a small part of the stomach is taken out so that there is a small place for food and fat storage.
These surgeries are a quick fix but they can have side effects in long term hence, it is better to choose a healthy diet and exercise to lose weight.
It is Difficult to Avoid Regaining Weight.
You may regain weight after quitting diet, medicines and even surgery.
One way to maintain weight is to have good physical activity.
Make exercise your routine for about 30 to 45 minutes.
Never stop running your errands and do your own chores to remain physically active.
This way you may have a chance of maintaining a healthy weight.
Obesity is tough and weight loss is a long journey.
However, it is not impossible.
You need will, determination and perseverance to have a better quality of life.