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Obesity is a condition characterized by excess body fat. It is expressed with the help of BMI (the body mass index) figures, which have been shown to concur with the individual body fat component. However, there are results which discount the use of BMI as a direct interpretation of the body fat index. For instance, athletes may have a higher BMI, yet their fat component is significantly low. Therefore, in some cases, the body fat component is established using a more sophisticated technology such as computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging (Mayo clinic.com 2012). The term “obesity” is mostly used interchangeably with “overweight.” In the contemporary world, obesity has been identified as a serious issue due to the increasing number of cases. The condition is a core contributor to other diseases; thus, the importance of controlling the condition cannot be overlooked. The etiopathogenesis of obesity is linked to several factors, which are hypothesized to solely or in combination predispose to obesity. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, adults with BMI ranges of between 25 and 30 are considered overweight, while those with BMI value of over 30 fall under the obese category (Balentine & Stoppler 2012).
The extent of the condition worldwide is alarming with most of the affected population being from developed countries such as the USA. It is estimated that over 65 % of Americans are obese. Moreover, the rate at which American children are becoming obese is rapidly escalating. Roughly a fifth of children in the US have been categorized as obese (CDC. 2012).
Causes of Obesity
The physiology behind the development of obesity is directly related to the energy balance in an individual’s body. The rate at which consumed nutrients are burnt or used up in the body determines the degree of the possibility of growing obese. However, the balance is not majorly inclined to the ingestion-metabolism concept. There are other factors that enhance the rate of growing obese. This is to mean that it is not excessive eating of carbohydrate foodstuff with minimal activity to consume the energy that results in obesity. Despite this being the main contributing factor, not everybody who consumes a lot end up being obese. Physiologically, unburned calories are converted into glycogen (fat), which is stored in the body. Risk factors for obesity can be broadly categorized as those that can be controlled and those which cannot be controlled (Mayo clinic.com 2012).
Non-modifiable Risk Factors
Age: The body’s energy requirement decreases with age. Therefore, there is a high tendency to develop obesity as a person grows old. Interestingly, this is a factor that cannot be controlled, since it is a natural process. This factor supports statistical facts showing adults as having a higher rate of obesity than children (WebMD 2012).
Gender: The metabolic rate of men is higher than that of women. This is explained by the fact that men have a higher number of muscle cells than women. Therefore at rest, the energy needed to maintain physiological activities is higher in men than in women. Moreover, postmenopausal women have a reduced metabolic rate as compared to those in the reproductive group. This reduction in energy consumption predisposes women to obesity at a higher rate than men (WebMD 2012).
Genetics: Obesity tends to be pronounced in certain families depending on their genetic makeup. It has been identified that children inherit the body structure of their parents. In families where parents are obese, the probability of developing obesity is over 75%. This factor is believed to play a role in that there is a transfer of genetic material involved in metabolism from parents to their children. The significant hormone associated with this behavior is leptin (satiety hormone) (Mayo clinic.com 2012).
Modifiable Risk Factors
Sedentary lifestyle: The level of activeness determines the rate of metabolism at a given time. Adopting a sedentary lifestyle leads to a decreasing level of metabolism; thus, most calories are converted to glycogen and stored in the body. This trend results in increased fat mass in the body, hence obesity. Most obese people have low levels of exercise due to office work (Balentine & Stoppler 2012).
Psychological factors: Psychological health of an individual matters a lot in weight management. Factors such as stress, depression, anger, boredom or loneliness are associated with excessive eating, as individuals tend to overeat under the influence of these factors, thus adding the possibility of disrupting the balance between ingested nutrients and metabolized nutrients. Moreover, sleep deprivation also increases weight gain due to disruption of the appetite regulating hormone (Mayo clinic.com 2012).
Medication: There are a number of medicines that increase weight gain. These drugs include steroids, antidepressants, antipsychotic, contraceptives, and some beta blockers among others. The physiology behind the drugs’ influence on weight gain differs from person to person (WebMD 2012).
Eating habits: The choice of food, frequency of eating, and quantity of food eaten also play a role in weight gain. People who consume a lot of carbohydrates and fat components tend to be obese (Balentine & Stoppler 2012). This is because carbohydrates are stored in the body in the form of fat. Gluttony results in increased concentration of blood sugar that prompts the body to produce the glucagon hormone. The hormone converts excess glucose into glycogen in the process known as glyconeogenesis. This predisposes a person to obesity.
Illness: Some diseases have been determined to cause obesity. These conditions include hypothyroidism, depression, Cushing’s syndrome, and polycystic ovary syndrome.
Obesity affects a number of body systems to the extent of developing complications. Psychologically, the individual is also likely to develop anti-social behaviors. Most obese people find it more difficult to intermingle with other people than they did before the weight gain (Balentine & Stoppler 2012). They consider their body embarrassing. Consequently, these people develop the feelings of shame, rejection, low self-esteem, and a poor body image. Moreover, it becomes difficult for them to continue with their chores. These factors affect the quality of life of the individual.
Economically, people suffering from obesity face additional challenges in trying to control their body size. It is common knowledge that preventing obesity is much cheaper than losing weight once obesity has cropped in. The expenses spent on medical check-ups, gym, and the stereotype of poor productivity sum up to cause financial problems among obese people. In cases of employment, obese people are mostly discriminated in the sense that these people are considered to have poor productivity at work. However, this idea has been objected sternly, since it has not been proven unless in areas of strenuous physical activity.
Excess body fat mass predisposes an individual to health problems. The seriousness of the condition is beyond the personal image. According to CDC statistics, over 300,000 mortalities in America are associated with overweight and obesity-related conditions. Four fifth of these deaths are individuals who are obese judging from their BMI value. Some of the conditions that result from obesity include the following (CDC 2012).
Increases in blood sugar levels: Obese individuals whose fat distribution is majorly around the abdomen and the waist region tend to have higher risk of Type 2 Diabetes (Mayo clinic.com 2012). Moreover, obesity causes cells to develop insulin resistance. Thus, cells fail to take up glucose, therefore causing increases in blood sugar levels. However, when the pancreas is still functional, the high levels of blood sugar may not be detected, since circulating insulin manages to bring the levels at equilibrium. Constant production of an increased amount of insulin by the pancreas may cause defect to beta cells or even autoimmune complications. In such cases, the production of insulin declines. Consequently, there are increased blood sugar levels leading to Type 2 diabetes (Balentine & Stoppler 2012).
Hypertension: This is an increased blood pressure level to readings of 140/100 mmHg. The main reason that leads to this condition is the increased peripheral resistance and occlusion of the blood vessels due to arteriosclerosis and increased cardiac output. People with apple shape fat distribution have high tendencies for developing hypertension as compared to those with pear shape bodies.
Cardiovascular problems: Other than hypertension, obesity leads to other cardiovascular problems such as arteriosclerosis (narrowing of the blood vessels due to fat deposition along the vessels rumen), fat embolism, stroke (cerebrovascular accident), myocardial infarction, heart attack, and congestive heart failure. Heart conditions are highly fatal and precaution should be taken at all costs to prevent developing them. Research has established that in every 1 kilogram of additional body weight, the risk of heart problems are accelerated by 1%. The risk is also at a higher degree in women than in men (Mayo clinic.com 2012).
Oncologic problems: Obese people have been found to have higher risk of cancer cases. The most probable cancer conditions include prostate, ovarian, colon, gallbladder, uterine, and breast cancers. Controlling the fat mass component in the body will reduce the prevalence of breast cancer, which is the most prevalent cancer among women. Fat cells play a crucial role in the production of estrogen, hence the increased risk of uterine, ovarian, and breast cancer among obese women (Balentine & Stoppler 2012). Other conditions accelerated by obesity include gout, erectile dysfunction, gallstones, arthritis, and poor wound healing.
Remedies for Obesity
Most obese people take measures to cut down the amount of food consumed with the aim of reducing their weight. However, this alone cannot be relied on, since the person gains weight in less than five years after losing weight. The importance of instituting more effective and long- lasting measures is a motivating factor for researches on obesity therapies. It is crucial to understand the underlying factors predisposing an individual to diabetes before offering a therapy mode to be used. This will help to make the treatment more individual, as different people have various predisposing factors (Balentine & Stoppler 2012). Understanding the causes will then help to select an effective therapy method. The treatment therapy should be consistent and beneficial. The available therapies are mostly based on modifications in lifestyle and eating, exercise, and psychological peace.
Dietary modification: The aim of modifying one’s diet is to reduce the caloric value available to cells. However, caution should be taken to prevent drastic weight loss. Gradual and consistent weight loss will ensure that the skin will be tightly attached to the body muscles. This will help to prevent instances of “skin sags.” Dietary modification means that the body has to be provided with necessary nutrients in the form of a balanced diet. Sudden reduction in carbohydrate consumption causes a pseudo weight loss, since it is only the body fluid component that is reduced, which is immediately corrected. As a guideline, the individual is expected to eat more of low density food and less of high density food. Moreover, it is advisable that the individual should consume complex carbohydrate instead of refined sugars. The range of calories consumption per day should be within, but not restricted to, 1Kcal to 1.6Kcal (Balentine & Stoppler 2012).
Exercise and activity: Exercise and activity help in increasing metabolism, thus burning excess fat in the body. It is advisable to exercise for over 35 – 40 minutes a day. This should be done at an increasing rate, intensity, and duration of the exercise or activity. Exercise will also help you improve blood circulation, lower blood pressure, and increase the number of muscle cells (Mayo clinic.com 2012).
Medication: To achieve better effect, medications are supposed to be combined with exercise and diet modification. Some medications that can help reduce weight include lorcaserin, phentermine, and sibutramine (Balentine & Stoppler 2012). These drugs function through suppressing the appetite. Despite their different modes of action, they increase either serotonin or norepinephrine or both. Orlistat controls obesity through inhibiting enzyme lipase, hence interfering with fat digestion. The client may also consider taking counseling sessions in cases of psychological-related obesity.
Surgery: In some cases, clients may opt to go in for surgery to reduce weight. This becomes an option in case of extreme obesity when BMI is over 40 or for elective purposes. These surgeries can be broadly grouped into restrictive and malabsorptive ones. The most common surgeries are gastric by-pass surgery and gastric sleeve (Balentine & Stoppler 2012).
People are able to gather information about obesity through websites, magazines, television, and from books. However, not everybody is able to access this information (Loyola University 2011). Currently, the pronounced program of weight reduction and obesity control is the sphere headed by the First Lady, Michelle Obama. This was after the issue of children fitness was discussed by the President of the United States of America. The program is aimed at promoting activeness of children at school and at home to reduce sedentary lifestyle. The program is supported by several agencies, which facilitates the effectiveness of the program (Millington 2010).
However, focusing on children alone will not help eradicate obesity. As discussed above, there is an increased tendency to gain weight as people advance in age. Therefore, modifications should be made to encompass young people and adults in the program. The program should also be communicated and lessons or guidance provided through the social media such as Facebook and Twitter. The choice of these media is based on the large number of individuals visiting them irrespective of their age. This will ensure that a large number of people in need of this health education will be able to easily access the information.
The best spokesman for this program should be the one who is physically fit, famous, and adored by many citizens. Such a person could be the current president of America, Obama. His ability to influence people, his good shape, and his sporting prowess qualify him to be one of the best spokespeople for the program.
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