Obesity has reached epidemic proportions; over two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese. The prevalence of obesity in children has increased markedly. Obesity has also been increasing rapidly throughout the world, and the incidence of obesity nearly doubled from 1991. Here are some of the known and unknown facts on obesity.
What is obesity?
Overweight and obesity indicate a weight greater than what is considered healthy. Obesity is a chronic condition defined by an excess amount of body fat.
Obesity is best defined by using the body mass index. The body mass index is calculated using a person’s height and weight. An adult who has a BMI of 25-29.9 is considered overweight, and an adult who has a BMI over 30 is considered obese.
Causes of obesity
We need to know more about the causes of obesity, and then we need to change the ways we treat it. When obesity is
accepted as a chronic disease, it will be treated like other chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure. The treatment of obesity cannot be a short-term “fix” but has to be an ongoing lifelong process.
People have this misconception that when you’re fat you just eat too much of the wrong foods. Yes, this can be true in some cases but it’s not always the case.
1. Air Pollution and chemicals may contribute to obesity
Air pollution doesn’t just hurt your lungs: A study found that prenatal exposure to high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the air made children twice as likely to be obese by age 7. So, during pregnancy, avoid exposing to car exhaust and smoke from cigarettes, fireplaces and barbecue grills as much as possible.
2. Fast-food salads
Get over the idea that the word “salad” automatically means “healthy.” Salads from several food chains have been found to contain 1,200 calories or more. As a result, customers consume way more calories than they’d bargained for, and more calories equals potential weight gain.
3. Lack of sleep
Researchers found, sleep deprivation both motivates us to eat and blunts our ability to make good food choices — a combination that can contribute to obesity.
4. Altitude impacts
A study published in the International Journal of Obesity says, the closer you live to sea level, the heavier you’re likely to be obese. Researchers think that the “increased metabolic demands” of living at high elevations may be behind the phenomenon
A recent study says, there’s a correlation between obesity and early use of antibiotics in children. Check with the physician about giving antibiotics to children, and the ways you can normalize your gut bacteria while on antibiotic therapy.
A recent study found that children with high levels of BPA – a chemical found in lots of plastic products, had increased odds of obesity — and earlier research has found the same to be true for adults. Beware of buying bottles and Sippy cups at garage sales and consignment stores, since they may predate the FDA’s 2012 ban of BPA in those products.
7. Car dependence
The more sedentary you are, the greater your obesity risks. So minimize the car driving and try to walk for the short distances.
Unknown diseases that cause childhood obesity:
1. Prader-Willi syndrome
Prader-Willi syndrome is a congenital disease that involves obesity, decreased muscle tone, decreased mental capacity, and sex glands that produce little or no hormones.The genetic changes occur randomly. Patients usually do not have a family history of the condition.
2. Bardet-Biedl syndrome
Bardet-Biedl syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that affects the brain and can cause multiple physical problems including a deterioration of the intellect and neurological functions. Other symptoms of Bardet-Biedl syndrome may include extra toes and/or fingers, mental retardation, kidney disease, and obesity.
3. Cushing’s disease
Cushing’s disease is a condition in which the pituitary gland releases too much adrenocorticotropic hormone (ATCH). Cushing’s disease is caused by a tumor or excess growth of the pituitary gland.
What are the health risks associated with obesity?
Patients with a BMI over 40, life expectancy are reduced significantly. Obesity also increases the risk of developing a number of chronic diseases, including the following:
• Insulin resistance
Insulin is necessary for the transport of blood glucose into the cells of muscle and fat. Fat cells are more insulin resistant than muscle cells; therefore, one important cause of insulin resistance is obesity. Insulin resistance is a pre-diabetes condition.
The risk of type 2 diabetes increases with the degree and duration of obesity. Type 2 diabetes is associated with central obesity; a person with central obesity has excess fat around his/her waist, so that the body is shaped like an apple.
• High blood pressure(hypertension)
Hypertension is common among obese adults. A study showed that weight gain tended to increase blood pressure in women more significantly than in men. The risk of developing high blood pressure is also higher in obese people who are apple shaped (central obesity) than in people who are pear shaped (fat distribution mainly in hips and thighs).
• Heart attack
Risk of developing coronary artery disease increases three to four times in women who had a BMI greater than 29. A study showed that for every 1 kilogram increase in body weight, the risk of death from coronary artery disease increased by 1%. In patients who have already had a heart attack, obesity is associated with an increased likelihood of a second heart attack.
Obesity has been linked to cancer of the colon in men and women, cancer of the rectum and prostate in men, and cancer of the gallbladder and uterus in women. Obesity may also be associated with breast cancer, particularly in postmenopausal women.
Other factors associated with obesity
• Hormones. Women tend to gain weight especially during certain events such as pregnancy, menopause, and in some cases, with the use of oral contraceptives.
• Childhood weight: A person’s weight during childhood, the teenage years, and early adulthood may also influence the development of adult obesity. For example,being mildly overweight in the early 20s was linked to a substantial incidence of obesity by age 35;being overweight during older childhood is highly predictive of adult obesity, especially if a parent is also obese;Being overweight during the teenage years is even a greater predictor of adult obesity.
• Ethnicity: Ethnicity factors may influence the age of onset and the rapidity of weight gain.