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A Readers Guide to Obesity, Its Causes, Symptoms, and Ways to Prevent It

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“Obesity affects every aspect of a person’s life, from health to relationships”

Whenever you see a person battling with body fat, instead of making fun of them understand their problem. Body fat is not something to be made fun of but it’s a serious health concern and should be tackled as one. If someone crosses the thin line between overweight and obesity, they need to consider all aspects of the disease.

A-Readers-Guide-to-Obesity
Obesity

The term obesity is talked about a lot, but most of the time people are not aware of what it actually means. 

Does obesity refer to someone who is overweight or has excess weight to lose? Or it has more than that? Decoding Obesity, the best health and fitness podcast will clear all your misconceptions about the disease. 

If your body carrying too much weight and body fat, you are at a higher risk of health problems. Obesity refers to excess body fat and people with BMI above 30 are considered obese. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 69.2% of American men and women over the age of 20 are overweight or obese and 35.9% of adults meet the criteria for morbid obesity.

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According to the same organization, people who weigh 100 pounds or carry 100 % above ideal body weight or have BMI above 35 have morbid obesity.

Over the past few decades, obesity has become a serious health problem and is considered an epidemic in the United States. From 1999-2000 through 2017-2018, the prevalence of obesity increased from 30.5% to 42.4% and severe obesity increased from 4.7% to 9.2%. Read data (CDC.GOV).

We have not enlisted these figures to scare you but to make you aware of how obesity can cause havoc in your life. Despite the rising percentages of obesity, there are numerous ways to prevent obesity in both kids and adults. In this blog, we will explain every minute detail about obesity.

Symptoms of Obesity amongst Adults

  • Excess body fat accumulation in specific body parts.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Skin related issues like (accumulation of moisture in the folds of skin)
  • Increased snoring
  • Fatigue
  • The psychological impact of obesity includes (negative self-esteem, depression, shame, isolation).
  • Adults with obesity find trouble in sleeping.

Rare Symptoms of Obesity 

  • POMC deficiency obesity: The key symptoms of pro-opiomelanocortin, include hyperphagia(extreme hunger) starting during infancy, onset obesity and hormonal problems.
  • Leptin receptor (LEPR) deficiency obesity:  The key symptoms include hyperphagia, severe early-onset obesity, and hypogonadotropic hypogonadism.
  • Bardet-Biedl syndrome: The key symptoms include hyperphagia, vision impairment, polydactyly and kidney impairment.  

What are the main reasons behind obesity?

Obesity is caused when someone consumes more calories than what is necessary for performing bodily functions. In obesity, fat is calories that are stored as fat when the person doesn’t involve in physical activity to burn calories. The main reason behind this increase in stored body fat includes:

  • Consuming a diet that is high in calories.
  • Sedentary lifestyle deficit of sufficient exercise.
  • Certain medicines like corticosteroids, antidepressants and seizure medications may also increase weight.
  • People suffering from hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid ) may also experience an increase in weight.
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome(PCOS that produces high levels of certain hormones)

Other issues responsible for Obesity 

Obese, Weight, Loss, Man, Nutritionist
  • Certain Diseases and Medications: Sometimes obesity can be traced to a medical cause like Prader-Willi syndrome, crushing syndrome and other conditions. Medications can lead to weight gain if it is not supplemented with proper diet and exercise. Medications that increase the risk of obesity include antidepressants, anti-seizure medications, diabetes medications, antipsychotic medications, and steroids.
  • Social and economic issues: Research shows that social and economic factors are linked to obesity. If you don’t have access to healthier foods or don’t walk or are not involved in proper exercise, weight gain will take place. Also, people who spend time will influence and motivate you to lose weight.
  • Age: Obesity can occur at any age. At a young age, hormonal changes and a less active lifestyle can increase the risk of obesity. Also, the amount of muscles in the body tends to decrease with age, and also lower muscle mass leads to a decrease in metabolism. all these changes reduce calorie needs and make it difficult for a person to stay away from excess weight. if people don’t control what they eat and are less active they may face weight issues.
  • Risks factors associated with obesity: Numerous factors encourage, influence or contribute to obesity. Such factors may occur alone or are linked with other factors which when combined with a sedentary lifestyle causes problems in a person’s life.  
  • Health risks of obesity: Numerous medical problems are associated with obesity
  • Diabetes: Type 2 diabetes is closely associated with obesity. A weight gain of 11 to 18 pounds increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes compared to a person who has not gained weight. After losing weight, people will find they no longer have symptoms or need medication for diabetes.  
  • Hypertension: Obesity may also give rise to hypertension. Losing weight results in the reduction of blood pressure without even the use of medication.
  • Infertility and pregnancy issues: It’s a proven fact that overweight women are at a higher risk of facing fertility issues. An increase in weight alters the normal estrogen hormone levels in women, which causes fertility problems. Also, obesity during pregnancy is associated with an increase in the risk of death for both baby and mother. Women who are obese during pregnancy may face gestational diabetes and problems during labor and delivery.
  • Sleep Apnea One of the serious and most common complications arising due to obesity is Sleep Apnea. if it’s not properly treated it may lead to heart, lung damage, and in some cases even death.
  • Arthritis: If a person gains 2 pounds of weight, the risk of developing arthritis will increase by 9-13 %
  • Obesity and Depression: Depression and obesity go hand in hand, but the relationship between the two is difficult to tease apart. Depression and obesity often occur together and have common risk factors. Obesity is also associated with emotional issues like sadness, anxiety and depression.
  • Obesity and stress: Stress plays a key factor in both depression and obesity. And, chronic stress and anxiety may lead to depression. Also, stress can make someone eat more food as a coping mechanism.
  • Severe COVID-19 Symptoms: Studies on obesity show that obesity increases the risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms if the person is infected by a virus.

Relationship between Obesity and Genes

  1. Do Genes play a role in obesity? Let’s find out!: Yes, genes do play a role in obesity. Recent studies on obesity found that genetics contribute to 40-70 % of obesity with more than 50 genes associated with obesity. Although other factors stated above to increase the risk of obesity, the presence or absence of genetic factors can protect or predispose you to obesity.
  2. Severe Obesity and genetics: In early childhood, rare single-gene defects cause obesity and are associated with a high level of hunger. Children who have severe obesity before the age of 2 must consider obesity medicine specialist and must be screened for:
    1. Leptin deficiencyPOMC deficiency
    2. MC4R deficiency
  3. Influence of genes on obesity: It’s the genes that guide the human body to respond to the changes taking place in the environment. Various variants in genes may contribute to obesity by accelerating hunger and food intake. In some cases, a special type of single gene (monogenic obesity) is responsible for a clear pattern of inherited obesity within a family. However, in most cases, obesity results from complex interactions amongst multiple genes and environmental factors.
  4. Family history and obesity: Health care professionals collect family health history to find people who are at a higher risk of obesity-related diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and even some forms of cancer. Yes, families can’t change their genes, but incorporating healthy habits in your daily life will reduce the risk of obesity.

Obesity Prevention Is It A Myth Or A Reality? 

Here are some facts that will answer this question

Since 1980, obesity rates have doubled in the USA and have tripled for teens. Also, 17% of children between the ages of 2 to 19 are considered obese as compared to over 35% of adults who are considered obese.  

The more a person is obese, the more will be the chances of obesity-related risk factors. Since there are many chronic diseases and conditions associated with obesity, preventing the disease has become a must.

  • Breastfeed infants whenever possible: According to a study conducted in 2014, breastfeeding helps in reducing the risk of childhood obesity. But, certain studies show there is no role of breastfeeding in obesity prevention. Hence a more detailed study is required on the topic.
  • Appropriate portion for children: According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, toddlers don’t require huge amounts of food. From ages 1 to 3, height should equate to around 40 calories of food intake. Parents can encourage older children about what portion sizes look like and how to incorporate them into their daily life.
healthy food, Fruits, Food, obesity diet, weightloss
  • Incorporate healthy foods: Make sure your child eats a variety of different fruits, vegetables and proteins. As they grow older, they will incorporate healthy food into their own diet.
  • Encourage slow eating: Overeating can happen if you eat when you are not hungry. The excess fuel in your body will be stored as body fat and will eventually lead to obesity. Make sure your child eats only when they are hungry and chew more slowly for better digestion.
  • Take time for fun and exciting physical activities: According to WHO (World Health Organization), teens and kids should be involved in at least 60 minutes of physical activity. Fun activities include games, sports, gym class, or even outdoor chores.

Obesity Prevention tips for adults

Some of the obesity prevention tips for adults are the same when it comes to losing or maintaining weight.

The other important thing to consider for BMI is that it varies between different ethnicities.

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Obesity Prevention Tips / Body Measurement in Obesity
  1. Adults must consume less bad and more good fat: Trust us not all fat is bad. According to a 2017 study published in the Nutrition Journal, intake of healthy dietary fats like polyunsaturated fats can improve cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of obesity.
  2. Less processed and sugary foods: Processed and ultra-processed foods are linked to a higher risk of obesity. Many processed foods are high in fat, salt and sugar which may lead to overeating.
  3. Include more portions of vegetables and fruits: According to experts, the daily recommendation of fruit and vegetables is five to nine servings per day for adults. Adults must include fruits and vegetables in their daily meals to keep calories off the bay and reduce the risk of overeating.
  4. Regular aerobic activity: Take part in regular physical activity. Make a fitness schedule that will include brisk walking, cardio and aerobics. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic every week to stay fit. Hopefully, this blog has cleared all your confusion about obesity, its symptoms and associated risks. For more information on obesity and why it has become a national concern, tune into the Decoding Obesity podcast, the best health and fitness podcast for weight loss tips. 

References:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Avishkar Sabharwal, M.D., Dipl. ABOM, Dipl. BLM has trained in Internal Medicine both in India and the US, and is board certified in Obesity Medicine and Lifestyle Medicine. His focus area has always been lifestyle diseases, especially obesity.

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