Obesity has always been a common and severe physical health issue. Many of us are struggling to cope with this and achieve our goal of living a healthy lifestyle with a fit body. And the struggle seems never-ending when we are not aware of what a physical health issue like ‘Obesity’ can cause to us.
MEANING OF OBESITY
Obesity is a severe form of ‘Body fat’. It is a medical concern that involves an excessive amount of body fat, which later turns out to generate the risk of other diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer that may affect our physical health severely. To analyze obesity, we check BMI i.e Body Mass Index. It is a scale to measure body fat by comparing height and weight.
CAUSES OF OBESITY
Our body weight is influenced by genetic, metabolic, hormonal, and behavioral issues. Obesity occurs when the intake of calories is more than we burn through our normal activities and due to lack of exercise. In this case, our body starts storing calories as fats which later takes the form of ‘Obesity’. People with obesity eat more and might be food lovers. They frequently feel hungry and take in more calories even after being stuffed due to stress or anxiety. Many American’s diets are full of calories such as fast food and high-calorie beverages.
Obesity usually occurs due to some common causes and contributing factors:
Family Inheritance - In this case, the genes we inherit from our parents or family influence the storage of body fat in our body. Genetics does play a significant role in how well our body converts the calories we intake into energy. Due to slow metabolism, our body consumes less energy and stores the extra energy as fat. This physical health issue tends to run in families and not only because of the genes but also their eating habits and activity schedules.
Lifestyle Choices - The choices we make to live a healthy and stable lifestyle matter a lot to protect us from many physical health problems. An unhealthy diet full of fast food, high in calories, heavy beverages like alcohol may contribute to weight gain and unnecessary fat in the body. Having an easy-going lifestyle where no physical activity like household chores and exercise is performed, definitely allows obesity to occur.
Certain Medication - Medical problems like arthritis may result in weight gain due to decreased activities. Such medications can be responsible for tracing obesity due to not compensating for the calories we intake through some physical activity. These medications include steroids, diabetes medications, and beta-blockers, etc.
AGE - Obesity can happen to anyone, even to teenagers. But as we grow, hormonal changes and not performing physical activities can increase the risk of obesity. These changes also affect calorie intake. The amount of muscle decreases with age and the lower muscle mass decreases naturally. If we don’t pay attention to what we eat and how often we eat then we’ll surely start gaining weight anywhere in the body.
Other Factors - Factors such as lack of sleep, stress, microbiome, quitting smoking and pregnancy, etc. can be responsible for gaining weight. Lack of sleep or oversleep may cause changes in the hormones that increase appetite. Stress can affect our mood and stability which results in taking high calories. The microbiome affects the gut bacteria by what you eat and contributes to weight gain. Quitting smoke is often associated with the possibility of weight gain as some use food to deal with smoking withdrawal. Pregnancy is a common period to gain weight, some women find it difficult to get rid of and this may result in the development of obesity later.
- Breathlessness i.e. difficulty in taking breaths due to the gain of weight.
- Deposition of fats in areas like hips, thighs, breasts, neck, and abdomen, etc.
- Lack of energy and inability to perform daily physical activities.
- Intake of food even after being stuffed and feeling hungry frequently.
Obesity occurs when our Body Mass Index (BMI) turns 30 or higher. To calculate BMI, just divide weight in pounds with height in inches squared and multiply by 703. Or just divide weight in kilograms with height in meters squared.
BMI Weight status
Below 18.5 Underweight
18.5 - 24.9 Normal
25.0 - 29.9 Overweight
30.0 and higher Obesity
BMI gives a calculated and reasonable estimate of body fat. However, BMI doesn’t actually measure the total fat in the body, some people like muscular athletes may have the BMI in the obesity category even after not having an excessive amount of body fat.
People suffering from obesity are likely to suffer from many other serious physical health issues or diseases. Such complications include:
Type 2 diabetes - Due to obesity, our pancreas becomes unable to perform its function properly which influences the way our body uses insulin to control blood sugar levels.
Heart diseases and strokes - Obesity generates the risk of high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol levels which may cause heart strokes anytime and anywhere.
Certain cancers - Obesity may increase the possibility of cancer of the cervix, uterus, ovary, and breasts, colon, rectum, prostate, and endometrium, etc.
Sleep apnea - People suffering from obesity are likely to have sleep apnea. This is a serious disorder in which breathing often stops and starts during sleep.
Digestive problems - Obesity is associated with a higher risk of GERD i.e. Gastroesophageal reflux disease that occurs when stomach acid leaks into the esophagus directly.
Sexual and gynecological problems - Due to obesity, women are likely to have irregular periods and men are likely to have erectile dysfunction. A higher BMI is associated with the risk of sexual impairments.
Osteoarthritis - Obesity results in putting excess weight on the joints especially knees which causes pain and worsens the arthritis damage.
There are some complications that may cause harm to our physical health and may raise severe physical health issues due to obesity. But we can cope with them through diet, physical activities, behavioral changes, and of course regular exercise.
Whether we are at risk of obesity or currently having it or at a healthy weight, we can still take steps to prevent unwanted fat from our body. Allowing extra fat may cause severe health problems. Steps to prevent extra weight are as similar as the steps to lose weight like regular exercise, healthy diet, long term commitment to pay attention to what we eat and how much we eat and drink.
Exercise regularly - We need to indulge in 15-30 minutes of regular physical activity so that our body parts can function properly and our organs can function in a healthy way. We can do walking, swimming, warming up, etc.
Healthy eating - Eating healthy can benefit in many ways. It doesn’t only benefits our body but also ensures our well-being. We can intake low-calorie foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. In order to get a healthy body, we can avoid high-calorie food and can limit our intake of sweets and alcohol.
Consistency - Following a healthy weight plan on weeks, weekends, and even on vacations consistently ensures the chances of long-term stability of our physical health.
Check weight frequently - It is good to weigh ourselves once a week. This helps in monitoring our changes in weight that can be normalized accordingly. To avoid excess pounds, we must check our weight to detect changes before it turns into big problems.
Avoid food traps - Notice situations where we can’t control ourselves eating. This will help us keep a journal of what to eat and in what quantity. Then, after some time we become habitual of this pattern and can easily handle such situations where we stay in control of our eating habits and behaviors
There are some weight-loss surgeries as well that help people to lose excessive body weight. But weight-loss surgeries aren’t a successful obesity cure and it doesn’t even guarantee that we’ll lose all our excess fat for a long time. These surgeries’ success depends upon our commitment towards our body by sticking to healthy habits and consistent behavior. Some of those common weight-loss surgeries are:
Gastric bypass surgery
Adjustable gastric banding
Vagal nerve blockade
Unfortunately, it’s usual to regain weight no matter what medication we try to get rid of obesity. Even after weight-loss surgeries, we can regain weight if we continue eating high-calorie foods and beverages. If we take weight gain medication then we can regain weight once we stop sticking to that medication. So, the only way to ensure a healthy body for a lifetime is to get indulged in any physical activity at least for 45-60 minutes a day. Pay attention to the activities that give motivation. After stabilizing in a healthy way, consult with the doctor right away regarding extra activities that may boost the body within.
Obesity is actually a major physical health issue but it can be treated with proper awareness and medication. Nowadays, who else is not having health concerns but still there are many who don't allow such health issues to control their lives wholly. All it takes is to pay some attention to our health and some activities to keep our body working.