Obesity related illness causes more than 300,000 deaths annually in the United States alone. Excess weight puts strain on your organs, triggering illnesses such as heart disease, liver problems, kidney disease, diabetes, asthma and has been linked as a factor in causing cancer. Obesity is classed as having a body mass index of 30+ with a healthy BMI ranging from 18.5-25.
What causes obesity?
Over 6 million Americans are morbidly obese, with a BMI of 40+. Lifestyle, environment, genetics and psychological factors all contribute to obesity, however the sudden increase in obesity statistics indicates that poor lifestyle and diet choices are the main causes of obesity.
It is a fact that genes effect the chances of a person becoming overweight and inherited problems such as lower metabolism rates, problems regulating glucose within the blood and hormonal imbalances are all factors linked to excess body weight. The way in which genetics affect obesity statistics is however unclear.
Children of obese parents are at increased risk of becoming obese. It was believed that the incresed number of obese children with overwieght children was linked to a so-called 'obesity gene.' Recent research has shown that this is less likely to be the case and the rise in obesity amongst children and adolescents is more likely linked to children mimicking the poor lifestyle choices of their parents.
The recent rise in obesity can be linked strongly to a change in lifestyle habits. Less exercise combined with a higher consumption of high-fat foods and larger portion sizes mean more people are gaining weight than in previous years. Experts recommend following a daily calorie intake of 2000 calories a day for women and 2500 for men with at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily.
Food is often turned to as comfort - the rise in obesity has been strongly linked to a rise in stress related illness and increasing numbers of people suffering with eating disorders such as binge eating disorder. Depression is often found to be an underlying factor in overweight and morbidly obese patients.
Hormones help regulate the body system. Abnormalities in hormone production can affect the way the body produces, burns and stores fat. Hormonal conditions such as thyroid problems can raise the risk of a patient becoming overweight.
Men are genetically programmed to produce more muscle than women due to the male hormone testosterone controlling muscle mass. Muscle burns more calories than fat, hence women, having a lower muscle mass, are at higher risk of obesity than men.
The metabolic rate, the speed at which the body breaks down fat, is a major contributory factor in obesity. As we age, the metabolic rate slows, meaning our body burns off less of the calories we consume. To reduce the possibility of becoming overweight with age, reduce the amount of calories consumed daily or increase the amount of exercise.
Obesity not only harms the way patients feel about themselves, but highly increases the risk of health problems linked to obesity.
High blood pressure and heart disease caused by blocked arteries are common side effects of being overweight.
People who have a BMI of 30+ are prone to type 2 Diabetes due to the effects of obesity on the body's ability to regulate blood glucose levels.
One of the side effects of obesity is blockages in the arteries caused by fatty deposits. Not only can this lead to heart disease, but increases the risk of stroke.
Insulin resistance is one of the main causes of fatty liver disease. Obesity damages the body's control of insulin and leads not only to diabetes but to liver problems.
Gallbladder disease is directly related to obesity with three times the number of gallbladder patients being overweight than gallbladder patients with a normal BMI.
Obesity is one of the leading causes in kidney problems, with the risk of kidney failure being 20 times higher for patients who are obese at the age of 20.
Research into links between cancer and obesity are ongoing, however a high BMI is a factor for many types of cancers including kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, endometrial cancer and breast cancer.
Reducing the effectiveness of treatment
Obesity can not only cause or increase the risk of many health problems but can also have a negative effect on treatment.
Loosing weight is not easy - it's estimated that over 45% of people in western countries are on a diet at any one time. There are a range of diets and weight loss plans to choose from and professional guidance from a nutritionist can often help patients who are struggling with excess weight.
For people who are obese, weight loss through dieting and exercise is often difficult. In these cases, patients with a BMI of 30+ may be candidates for weight loss surgery. Bariatric surgeons have a range of techniques and weight loss surgery procedures to aid weight loss and help patients embark on a maintainable weight loss plan.
Contact a bariatric surgeon to learn more about handling obesity.
The information on this site is not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment from a licensed medical practitioner. If you are experiencing a serious medical condition call your local emergency services or your doctor.