“Adolescent obesity is like an epidemic.”—S. K. Wangnoo, senior consultant endocrinologist, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, Delhi, India.
AS THE above comment shows, many middle-class Indian families have changed to a life-style that is resulting in teenage obesity. This epidemic has become a pandemic that is spreading in many countries as more people exercise less and become addicted to junk food. A consultant in adolescent medicine stated: “The next generation [in Britain] will be . . . The most obese in the history of mankind.” The Guardian Weekly reported: “Obesity was once mainly an adult problem. Now Britain has a young generation whose eating habits and sedentary culture is leading them towards problems first seen in the US. Long-term obesity will predispose them to illnesses such as diabetes to heart disease and cancer.”
The writers of the book Food Fight state: “Overconsumption has replaced malnutrition as the world’s top food problem.” Don Peck, writing in The Atlantic Monthly, states: “Some nine million Americans are now ‘morbidly obese,’ meaning roughly a hundred pounds [45 kg] or more overweight.” Weight-related conditions lead to some 300,000 premature deaths a year in that nation, “more than anything else except smoking.” Peck concluded: “Obesity may soon surpass both hunger and infectious disease as the world’s most pressing public-health problem.” Therefore, who can afford to ignore the threat of obesity? Dr. Walter C. Willett writes in the book Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy that “next to whether you smoke, the number that stares up at you from the bathroom scale is the most important measure of your future health.” The key word here is future health.
How Do You Define Obesity?
When is a person considered obese and not just somewhat overweight? The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, U.S.A., states: “In simplest terms, obesity is being seriously overweight because of excess body fat.” But how do you determine what overweight is for each person? Height-weight tables can give an approximate guideline whether one is simply overweight or has passed into the obese stage. However, these don’t account for differences in body composition. The Mayo Clinic says: “Body fat, instead of weight, is a better predictor of health.” For example, an athlete is likely to have more weight because of muscle mass or large bone structure. What are the basic causes of overweight or obesity?
what are the basic causes of overweight or obesity
- Overeating is the simple reason for obesity that so many people, including researchers on obesity, associate with it: “For most obese people, however, the accumulation of excess weight and adipose tissue most likely signifies a prolonged, and often, insidious process: excessive consumption of calories, above and beyond those used for muscular or metabolic work.” (Annalsbof the New York Academy of Sciences, 19847, page 343)
- Some people are overweight because of glandular disorders or disease, though Professor Judith Rodin holds that only “5 percent of all cases of obesity are caused primarily by medical problems.” Heredity may incline a person to stockiness. Dr. William Bennett comments: “Lots of fat people maintain their weight by eating about what an average-weight person does . . . They are metabolically different.” Certain scientists even feel that if a fat person eats less, his body lowers its metabolic rate so that he burns calories more slowly.
- Heredity? Environment? Or Both?
The book Food Fight states: “There has long been debate pitting genetics versus environment in the genesis of obesity.” What is meant by genetics in this context? Some hold to the theory that the human body naturally stores excess calories for possible future needs. The same source continues: “The genetics of obesity has been studied for decades. . . . Much research has now been done on human genes and obesity. Sophisticated techniques are being used to identify genes that predispose people to weight gain and to diseases like diabetes. In scientific parlance, 25 percent to 40 percent of the variability in population body weight can be explained by genes.” The book continues: “Given that obesity is usually blamed on personal failing, these numbers underscore the importance of biology, but still, 60 percent or more of the influence can be attributed to the environment.” This means that a major factor in obesity is still the person’s life-style. Does the individual take in more calories than he or she expends each day? Are the wrong kinds of food being consumed on a regular basis? Is time set aside each day for moderate exercise?
The Mayo Clinic explains the cause of obesity in simple terms: “Genes may set the stage for overweight or obesity, but your body weight ultimately is determined by your diet and physical activity. Over the long term, eating excess calories, leading a sedentary lifestyle, or a combination of both leads to obesity.” (Italics ours.) The same source continues: “Your heredity doesn’t mean you’re destined to be fat. . . . No matter what your genes say, it is ultimately your choices in nutrition and activity that will determine your weight.”
- Diseases and Drugs
Some illnesses may lead to obesity or weight gain. These may include Cushing’s disease, and polycystic ovary syndrome. Drugs such as steroids and some antidepressants may also cause weight gain. The science continues to emerge on the role of other factors in energy balance and weight gain such as chemical exposures and the role of the microbiome.
A health care provider can help you learn more about your health habits and history in order to tell you whether behaviors, illnesses, medications, and/or psychological factors are contributing to weight gain or making weight loss hard
Dangers of Obesity
Being fat can be dangerous. Reports show that obesity can lead to higher blood pressure and cholesterol levels, adult-onset diabetes, several types of cancer, heart and gallbladder disease, arthritis, and respiratory problems. “A person who is 20 percent overweight faces a death rate one-third higher than average; for those 30 and 50 percent overweight, the rates are 50 and 100 percent higher, respectively.” (The New York Times, February 27, 1985) Similar reports of health problems come from England, Germany, and Italy.
Mental illness such as clinical depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders.
Body pain and difficulty with physical functioning.
- Many, indeed, are the remedies from which you can choose. Hundreds of extremely overweight people have been helped by an operation—they have had a large portion of their small intestine removed. In this way the bowel surface from which nourishment is absorbed into the bloodstream is reduced. The measure is obviously a drastic one, not to be hastily chosen.
- What about using drugs? With drugs, whether the kind that depress the appetite or the kind that speed up the metabolism, you always have to reckon with side effects. Well has it been said: “No easy way is safe; no safe way is easy.”
- By developing a plan of more-healthful eating plus daily exercise.
- Pay more attention to your health, by making up your mind to lose weight.
- Started a regim of exercise program and different eating habits
- “fad diets.” Among those that might be mentioned are the three-day prune diet, a diet of grapefruit and hard-boiled eggs, and a diet of only milk and bananas. A real problem with all these “fad diets” is that they are not desirable on a permanent basis. Most “acceptable” reducing diets are relatively high in protein; the caloric reduction is obtained by reductions in fats and carbohydrates. While they may be called high-protein diets, there is actually no increase in protein intake.
- Another approach, quite simple as well as economical, is total fasting. Regarding it, Current Therapy 1970 states: “The total abstinence from food for 1 day every 3 to 10 days has been employed for years. The benefit to be derived from a caloric deficit of 2500 to 4000 calories once or even twice a week is quite real. In persons normal except for the obesity, the risks involved are minimal. For 7 to 10 day fasts, the newer procedure, observation under hospital conditions is advised.”
- Good Sense and Self-Control.
Of course, the simplest (but not the easiest) solution is to avoid getting overweight. Prevention is better than cure
Obesity is a complex health issue to address. Obesity results from a combination of causes and contributing factors, including individual factors such as behavior and genetics. Behaviors can include dietary patterns, physical activity, inactivity, medication use, and other exposures. Additional contributing factors in our society include the food and physical activity environment, education and skills, and food marketing and promotion.
We can choose for ourselves what we want for our life. At the end of the day, when we over do something is wrong and can be deadly too. Do/did you have this problem? what did you do about it? leave us a comment let us what you think about it.
Thanks for reading.