Obesity: What is It and What Causes It?

Published: 2021-09-29 17:50:11
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Obesity is a medical condition where the body has stored excess fat that might have a negative effect on health. Obesity happens when there is imbalance between the energy intake and energy output. Being obese depends on the kind of lifestyle one lives, environment factors, and also due to genes. Hence, it could indeed be said that ‘obesity is a multifactorial disorder influenced by a mixture of genetic and environmental factors’. Obesity can be measured by BMI (body mass index) or through waist circumference.
There are many types of obesity which are caused due to the type of lifestyle one is living, lack of outdoor activity, family background, or due to any sickness. To start off with, the first type is:
Upper body obesity – this type of fat usually starts to accumulate if one consumes a lot of calories. So the contributors are over eating and inactivity. A simple solution is to do aerobics and to cut down on sugar consumption.
Lower abdomen obesity – this is mainly due to stress, depression, and anxiety. To avoid that one should learn how to relax, as the stress hormone cortisol makes fat collect in the belly.
Lower body fat – this is due to excess of glycan in diet. This best thing to improve this fat collection is to walk up hills and stairs which help burn fat and not to skip breakfasts.
Bloated stomach – excessive alcohol consumption can swell up your stomach. It can only add more calories to your body with no nutritional satisfaction and makes you crave for food. The level of leptin is decreased which is a useful hormone that tells your brain that you have had enough food.
Lower leg fat – this type of fat is common in women who have vascular problems in legs or during pregnancy which can cause the legs to swell. To avoid swelling, one has to cut down on the intake of salty food as it causes fluid retention in your body. Drink a lot of water as it flushes out extra sodium from kidneys.
Upper back obesity – the main reason is lack of activity in body and not getting enough sleep. Not getting enough sleep can lead to hormone imbalance and increased appetite which results fat being stored back. Having more fiber in diet like beans, lentils, an avocado helps to reduce appetite.

Alas, when a healthy lifestyle is not followed, it can lead to these types of obesity which eventually over a period of time transform into diseases. Overall obesity is considered to be a huge concern as it leads to enormous number of diseases. It can head to:

Psychological problems with low self-esteem
Joint pains because it rubs onto the joints and leads to osteoarthritis which restricts them from exercising
Heart disease followed by high blood pressure
Diabetes mellitus (type 2)
PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) which eventually leads to infertility in women
Neurological problems that end up with stoke
Gastrointestinal cancers which again leads to infertility in women.

No one is new to obesity, but some people are more likely to become overweight or obese than others. Income, social deprivation and ethnicity, all have an impact on the likelihood of becoming obese. Genes, environment, hormones and culture, all play a part in the risk of obesity.
Is Obesity Genetic?
Obesity is a complex disease which results from the interactions between environmental factors and hereditary factors. It is established that off springs of parents who are obese are more likely to be obese compared to off springs of parents who are not. There are some genetic mutations in patients who are obese which are also known as monogenic and they are very rare for example the receptor of leptin hormone stored in body, so when there is any abnormality, patients can be morbidly obese. However, these monogenic mutations are rare and majority of the common forms of obesity are associated with variations in several genes, this is called polymorphism. Genes do play a par in our body’s BMI. Infect our genes can influence how much fat we have, where we tend to store our fat and even the types of taste we prefer. However, these genes tend to interact with the environment example it depends on how much we eat and how active we are. While we can’t control our genes, we do have some control over the environment or lifestyle. Even with genetic risk factor with obesity, a healthy lifestyle can minimize the risk so that the balance of power over our individual destiny remains in our own hands.
Genetics of obesity are divided into two forms:
Non-syndrome – co dominant inheritance – are monogenic and involve eight genes which are found to cause obesity and are:

LEP (leptin) – early onset obesity, hyperphagia, hypothyroidism.
LEPR (leptin receptor) – extreme, early onset, hyperphagia, hypothyroidism.
POMC (pro-opiomelanocortin) – increases energy expenditure, reduces appetite, resistance to leptin in obesity, early onset, pale skin, red hair, hypoglycemia
PCSK 1(proconvertase) – childhood onset obesity, hypoglycemia, elevated proinsulin, intestinal dysfunction.
MC4R (melanocortin-4 receptor) – increase fat and lean mass, decrease insulin secretion, increase blood pressure, high stature.
BDNF (brain derived neurotropic factor) – severe obesity, developmental delay.
NTRK 2(neurotropic tyrosine kinase receptor type 2)- severe early onset obesity, hyperphagia.
SIM 1(single- minded homolog 1) – developmental delay, hypotonia.

Syndrome- refers to obesity that occurs in a distinct set of associated clinical phenotypes or growth failure such as mental retardation. The genes found are:

PWS (Prader- Willi syndrome) – contiguous gene disorder, poor feeding, central obesity, neonatal hypotonia.
BBS (Bardet- Biedl syndrome) – progressive late childhood obesity, speech difficulties, excessive thirst, cataracts, congenital heart disease, undeveloped teeth.
ALMS 1 (Alstrom syndrome) – mild truncate obesity, insulin resistance, hearing loss, hepatic dysfunction, renal failure, short stature.
AHO (Albright’s hereditary osteodystrophy) – is an autosomal dominant disorder, short stature, gem line mutation in GNAS 1, early onset obesity, mental retardation.

Some of these genes are expressed in brain, emphasizing the importance of the brain in the regulation of appetite control. So if there is polymorphism in genes that lead to obesity, it means that in an environment where there is plenty of food, you are more likely to gain weight leading to being obese. However, this doesn’t mean that one cannot lose weight; through lifestyle changes with the support of health care professionals it is possible.
Environment is one of the most important factors leading to obesity. Genes can take few years to mutate but living in an unhealthy environment, full of fast foods can instantly lead a person being obese.
According to Ministry of Health Fiji, the latest results from the 2011 STEPs Survey found that since 2002, obesity has risen by 8.5% with 32.1% of Fijian adults now classified as obese. Overtime it has also being seen that obesity has affected health by increase in blood pressure, diabetes and hypertension. It’s mainly due to the kind of environment we live in. we as humans have changed but a number of things in our environment as well. Firstly, fast foods have become a routine for people just as much brushing teeth regularly.
A lot of people buy fast food every day, be it at work, school or even during leisure time, without thinking much about it or how it will affect your health. Proportions of meals have doubled in size, giving more than enough food to meet your stomach requirement. Even trying to be healthier is hard financially as organic foods such as vegetables and fruits are more expensive than a serve of Joji’s. The second change in our environment is entertainment. Now with forms of technologies such as internet, television, computers and video games require little movement or physical activity. Third environmental change is transportation. Most of our land now is only used for driving and not walking or cycling. This is mainly due to malls, schools and work places being too far from home to get a walk.
All of these things are products of environment that are affecting our lifestyle. Some may want to change their diet and behavior but with this environment it can really be difficult. By removing or altering things that support obesity in our environment, we can help support a healthier lifestyle.

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