Some Obesity Facts You Should Know!

There are several obesity facts that you should know when it comes to having a clear understanding of this complicated disease. The causes of obesity range from the simple (over-eating) to the complex (genetic predisposition). A definition of obesity says that it is a chronic disease characterised by excessively high body fat in relation to lean body mass.

A major problem with the assessment of obesity is that total body weight or body mass index tables (height/ weight tables) do not provide an accurate measurement of obesity. These measurements do not take into account the proportions of bone, muscle, organs and body fat when they are used. However, they are beneficial for most people if they want an indication as to whether or not they need to lose weight.

Here are some of the causes of obesity:

Excess calories

Excessive calorie intake may result from too many calories being consumed or too few calories being expended. These days it is so easy to consume excessive amounts of calories simply because most of the foods that are available are extremely calorie dense, i.e. they tend to be high in fat and/ or sugar. Plus, they are so easly accessible. For example, vending machines in schools offer children soft drinks or candy bars and these are a major contributor to obesity in children.

Obesity Facts

The food serving sizes provided in restaurants is also a contributor to excessive calories in the diet and therefore, is another cause of obesity.

Convenience is another reason why many people have a tendency to consume excess calories. When you are busy during the day, often the last thing you feel like doing is going home to cook. It is far easier to go through a drive through, fast-food outlet, get your order and then go home to eat it! It is no wonder that the cities with the highest number of fast food outlets also have the highest incidence of obesity. This is often one of the obesity facts that governments tend to overlook simply because these outlets create jobs and provide a substantial source of income for the government.

Nevertheless, it may be argued that the long term health cost of having high rates of obesity offsets the short-term boost in revenue. Therefore, this is certainly one of the obesity facts that needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

Too few calories being expended by people is also a major issue. This is one of the obesity facts that people must be willing to take most personal responsibility for. The truth is that society provides us with a whole range of energy-saving devices. This means that we are likely to expend far fewer calories than previous generations and as a result, will likely gain weight.

When a person has a combination of not enough calories being expended through exercise or their metabolism in combination with an excessive food intake (which is another area that requires some degree of personal responsibility), then, over a period of time, obesity is almost guaranteed!

Incorrect nutritional recommendations

The biggest incorrect nutritional recommendation that has been promoted widely over the years, and to a large extent is still believed, is the recommendation to eat large quantities of grain-based carbohydrates, i.e. bread, pasta, rice and cereals, because they are low in fat. This is discussed in more detail in the article on the food pyramid history.

This recommendation has been promoted with the so-called justification that 'carbohydrates don't make you fat, it's what you put on them that makes you fat, i.e. butter on bread or sour cream on potatoes.' What a load of absolute rubbish! The fact is that if you eat too much of any food it can make you put on weight, period!

Psychological/ Emotional factors

Often people use food as a pleasure or reward to offest stress, depression, low self-esteem or boredom. Eating changes the biochemistry of the body and therefore, the way we feel. Accordingly, if we have any negative feelings we can change them almost instantly by changing our biochemistry. Some people do this by exercising, drinking alcohol, smoking and some by eating. This is certainly one of the causes of obesity that is often overlooked.

Environmental factors

Environmental factors also play a role in influencing people's eating habits. Factors like clever advertising with tempting images of food, celebrity endorsement, etc. all have an impact on a person's decision to eat as well as their selection of particular foods.

Food may also be consumed as a conditioned response mechanism whereby a person's brain links eating with another activity. For example, often when people get home from work or school as soon as they walk through the door they go to the fridge or pantry to get something to eat. After doing this several times their brain automatically links these two activites together so in the future they are subconsciously driven to go to the fridge or pantry every time they get home from school or work. This is one of the obesity facts that few people are aware of.

Genetic factors

One of the strongest obesity facts is that genetics does play a leading role in influencing someone's likelihood of becoming overweight or obese. Even though it is not a guarantee that someone will be overweight or obese, it certainly does increase their chances of becoming so. It is said that when it comes to genetics and obesity, genetics 'loads the gun' and the environment 'pulls the trigger'!

Fat cell theory

One of the obesity facts states that the number of fat cells a person has is dependent on several factors. They are:

  • The number of fat cells they inherit from their parents
  • The number of fat cells they produce in early childhood
  • The number of fat cells they produce as a teenager
  • The number of fat cells they produce during pregnancy
  • The number of fat cells they produce as a result of 'hyperplasia' (when the fat cells become filled they spilt and become two fat cels)
  • Obviously, the number of fat cells a person has increases the likelihood that they will be come obese and is a major cause of obesity.

    Fat cell metabolism

    There are many factors that determine how a fat cell behaves. Enzymes like lipoprotein lipase (LPL) and fatty acid synthase (FAS) as well as many hormones, in particular, insulin, leptin and ghrelin, will influences whether a fat cell is more likely to store fat or mobilise fat.

    The obesity facts discussed in this article can provide some insight into what the causes of obesity are and as a result, what needs to be done in order to overcome the condition.

    If you would like to discover all the principles you need to lose weight and keep it off forever, get a copy of my e-book, Look Good, Feel Great!

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