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Why is Obesity a Health Problem?

Health is one of the greatest wealth of life, and hence, it’s important for everyone to maintain it in whatever manner possible. Exercising and a proper eating habits can significantly aid in maintaining a healthy weight.

Obesity is a chronic disease that can have a negative effect on the body. People who are overweight or obese have a much higher risk of developing a number of serious problems, such as:

  • Heart disease, at a very early age
  • Bone and joint diseases
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes, and
  • Some forms of cancer

Obesity can significantly shorten an individual’s lifespan. Many other health risks are higher for people who have crossed the obese mark. These risks typically increase as the degree of obesity increases. Causes of obesity have a direct relation with its respective problems.

People become obese due to a number of reasons. Several causes for obesity and factors involved are as follows:-

Causes of Obesity

A balance between food intake and energy expenditure determines a person’s weight. If a person eats more calories than he or she can burn, then he/she gains weight (this means the body stores the excess energy in the form of fat). Some of the primary causes of obesity include overeating and physical inactivity. Here, below are other reasons that can cause obesity:-

  • Genetics – A person is more likely to develop obesity if one or both the parents are obese. Genetics also affects hormones involved in body fat regulation.
  • Overeating – Overeating leads to weight gain, especially if the diet has a high fat content. Foods high in fat or sugar result in high calorie intake, which further serves as a cause of obesity.
  • Physical inactivity – People who are lethargic, have a tendency to burn fewer calories than people who are active. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) has shown that physical inactivity can be strongly correlated with weight gain among both, the men and the women.
  • Psychological factors – For some people, emotions influence their eating habits. Many people eat excessively in response to emotions such as stress, boredom, sadness, and anger. Diseases such as hypothyroid, insulin resistance, Cushing’s syndrome, PCOS are some major contributors to obesity.

Symptoms of Obesity

People who are obese usually showcase the symptoms of obesity, of medical conditions mentioned above. High blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, breathing problem, and joint pain (mainly in the knees and lower back) are common. The more obese a person is, the more likely he/she is to suffer from medical problems related to obesity.

The symptoms of obesity include:

  • Breathing disorders (e.g., sleep apnea, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Certain types of cancers (e.g., prostate and bowel cancer in men, breast and uterine cancer in women)
  • Coronary artery (heart) disease
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Gallbladder or liver disease
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Joint disease (e.g., osteoarthritis)
  • Stroke

Test for Obesity

If your BMI falls in the obese range, your health care provider will review your health history in detail, recommend a body fat percentage test, perform a physical examination and suggest some weight loss activities.

These exams and tests generally include:

Studying Health History – A physician typically reviews the patient’s weight history, weight-loss efforts, exercise habits, eating patterns, medical conditions he/she has or had in the past, medications, stress levels and other issues that could serve as plausible reasons behind obesity. The physician may also review the history of the patient’s family health to analyze the reasons behind obesity.

A general physical exam – This examination usually includes measuring the height of a person; checking for signs of obesity, mapping heart rate, blood pressure levels, and body temperature; listening to the heart beat and breathing pattern; and lastly examining the abdominal area.

Calculating BMI – Body Mass Index (BMI) determines one’s level of obesity. BMI also helps in determining one’s overall health risk and what treatment may be appropriate to cure the issue.

Blood tests – There are a number of tests that help analyse a person’s overall health, risk factors and current symptoms that may indicate obesity. Some common blood tests include cholesterol test, liver function test, a fasting glucose, and a thyroid test. A physician may also recommend certain heart related tests, such as an electrocardiogram to examine the risk of developing a cardiac ailment due to obesity.

Obesity Treatment

The main objective of obesity treatment is to achieve a good health and maintain the same. Individuals must work with a team of health professionals — including a dietitian, behaviour counsellor or an obesity specialist — to understand and make necessary changes in eating patterns and activity habits.

Every weight-loss program requires making changes in one’s eating habits and increasing physical activities. The treatment methods that are right for a person typically depend on the level of his/her obesity, overall health and willingness to participate in the weight-loss program.

Other treatment tools include:

  • Dietary changes – Getting rid of calories and adhering to healthier eating habits make for some vital measures to overcoming the problem of obesity. Although a person may lose weight quickly initially, physicians recommend that losing weight slowly and steadily, over a period of time, is better and safer. The main key to losing weight is reducing the intake of excess calories. It’s essential to review typical eating and drinking habits to see how many calories a person is normally consumes and where he/she can cut back.
  • Exercise and activity – Physical activities or exercises make for an essential part of obesity treatment. Most people who are able to maintain their weight loss for more than a year get regular exercise, even by simply walking.
  • Behavior changes – Making changes in one’s behavior pattern can help make many significant lifestyle changes and lose weight. Steps to take include examining the current habits to find out what factors, stress factors or situations may have contributed to obesity.
  • Prescription weight-loss medication – Losing weight is not easy. It asks for constant changes, especially in what on eats and how much he/she exercises. There are quite a few prescription weight-loss medication available in the market, which are safe and can be taken for losing weight. However, keep in mind, a weight-loss medication is meant to be used along with a proper diet, exercise and behavior changes, not instead of them. If a person fails to make changes in his/her life, the medication is unlikely to work.

Obesity Prevention 

To prevent obesity and maintain a healthy body weight, eat a well-balanced diet and exercise regularly.

Preventing obesity is important. Once fat cells form, they remain in the body forever. Although one can reduce the size of the fat cells, they cannot get rid of them.

As a matter of fact, breastfed babies are 15 to 25 percent less likely to become overweight at a later stage of their life. For those who are breastfed for six months or longer, the likelihood is 20 to 40 percent less.

  • Preventing Obesity amid Children – Children and adolescents are more prone to becoming obese as they are at a growing age and their needs – both food and physical change widely. Family genetics and lifestyle also contribute to a child’s weight gain status.
  • Preventing Obesity amid Adults – There are a plethora of means and ways to reduce as well as maintain weight. Of these shifting to a more balanced diet, more active lifestyle and keep oneself happy and prosperous are primary ways of getting back into shape and preventing future obesity.

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