If a person exceeds his or her desirable weight by more than twenty percent due to the accumulation of body fat, then that individual is said to be obese. Eating too much calorie laden food causes a person to become obese gradually.
What is Obesity?
In short an imbalance between the calories consumed and the calories expended, by way of physical activity, gives rise to obesity. The problem of obesity is rampant in the United States. Individuals whose Body Mass Index or BMI is higher than thirty are termed to be obese.
In fact even young children have become victims of obesity due to the sedentary lifestyle that they lead and the calorie rich food that they eat. In the United States millions of dollars are spent on various dieting and exercise programs to coax people to shed their excess weight.
Health Complications Arising From Obesity
Obesity is the leading cause of many health complications. People who leave their burgeoning weight unchecked may suffer from a variety of health complications from osteoporosis to heart ailments. Some of the common health problems arising due to obesity are stroke, diabetes, different types of cancer, gallbladder disease, asthma, gout, osteoarthritis and sleep apnea to name a few.
Recently a strong link has been established between obesity and depression as well. So the negative effects of obesity are wide ranging, causing a variety of physical and psychological problems.
Causes of Obesity
There are many intrinsic as well as extrinsic factors which can cause obesity. Intrinsic factors include our body genes, while extrinsic factors comprise among other things the lifestyle choices that we make. A combination of these two factors can determine whether an individual can become obese or not. Exploring the multiple causes of obesity can help people to take corrective measures to prevent this problem from becoming uncontrollable.
One of the leading causes of obesity has been put down to an energy imbalance. An energy imbalance can be simply described as the disparity between the energy that we derive through the food that we eat and the energy that we expend through the day by performing various tasks.
Our body uses energy for a variety of bodily functions including digesting, breathing and even eating. But the maximum amounts of energy are expended through physical tasks or activities. So people who lead sedentary lifestyles are using up minimum amount of bodily energy. The energy which is left unexpended is stored in the body as fat.
When the energy expended equals the energy consumed an individual’s body weight remains stable. If the energy consumed exceeds the energy expended, the person begins to put on weight. If on the other hand the energy expended far exceeds the energy consumed, the person tends to lose weight.
People who lead an inactive or sedentary lifestyle are at the greatest risk of suffering from obesity and its related problems. Individuals who like to plunk down in front of the computer or television set for the major part of the day are likely candidates of obesity. Besides leading a sedentary lifestyle, some of our personal choices regarding food and drink can also determine our chances of becoming obese.
People who eat a lot of processed and high fat food like French fries or burgers on a regular basis have the tendency to become obese. People who cut out unrefined flour, high fiber vegetables and fruits from their diet are actually making a big mistake. Individuals who indulge in comfort eating and those eat extra large potions of food have a very high energy intake. If this energy is not expended in the proper manner, it can cause a person to become obese.
Besides eating calorie dense food, drinking highly sweetened drinks can hasten a person’s chances of becoming obese. Most of the unhealthy lifestyle choices that a person makes is rooted in their childhood and is governed or influenced by family values with regard to food.
While our basic body makeup is the intrinsic factor which determines our chances of suffering from obesity, there are extrinsic or outside factors which can determine our chances of enduring the ill effects of obesity. Environmental factors which do not support or aid an individual to lead a healthy lifestyle tops the list.
People who do not have access to recreation facilities because of their economic status or due to safety hazards are more likely to suffer from extreme weight issues. People who have hectic work schedules which leave them with little time to exercise of lead a healthy lifestyle are twice as likely to become obese.
People who live in areas that do not sell fresh fruits or vegetables resort to eating canned, high fat, preservative laden food. If these foods are consumed regularly over an extended period of time, the risk of obesity is very high.
Sometimes even food advertisements can influence our food choices. Certain unhealthy foods which are advertised in a very clever manner can wheedle us into eating similar foods which may prove to be detrimental for our health.
Genetics as well as the family values concerning food can determine a person’s chances of becoming obese. Some people due to their genetic makeup have a higher predisposition to store body fat than others.
If parents adopt a lackadaisical manner as concerns food and allow their children to gorge on unhealthy food stuffs then there are greater chances of them suffering from obesity.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome, hypothyroidism are some of the disease conditions which causes an individual particularly women to put on excessive amounts of weight.
Emotional eaters tend to eat more and make wrong choices as regards food. People who eat food when they get stressed, angry or sad tend to go in for high calorie, fatty foods which are stored in the body as adipose tissue. Accumulation of adipose tissue over a period of time can lead to obesity.
Lack of Sleep
Many people are unaware of the fact that insomnia or other sleeping disorders which causes an individual to sleep less than five hours a night are at a risk of suffering from obesity. People who fail to get sleep tend to snack more at night. Lack of sleep can also increase the insulin and blood glucose levels which can increase the risk of obesity.
Certain type of medications like seizure medications, antidepressants and corticosteroids can increase the appetite levels and decrease the level at which calories burn.
Photo Credit: Phsj.org