obesity: causes, complication and prevention
Obesity is defined as excessive amount of fat accumulation that may affect our health. It is a medical condition that increases your risk for other diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and certain cancers.
Body mass index (BMI) is the measurement of body fat based on height and weight used to classify obesity in adults. It is usually calculated as a person’s weight in kilograms(kg) divided by the square of his height(H2) in meters (kg/m2).
For adults, WHO defines overweight and obesity as follows:
- overweight is a BMI greater than or equal to 25; and
- obesity is a BMI greater than or equal to 30.
|30.0 and higher||Obesity|
Causes of obesity
The fundamental cause of obesity and overweight is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended. Globally, there has been:
- Unhealthy eating habits: A diet that is high in calories i.e, foods that are high in fats and sugars.
- Decreased physical activity: which is due to the nature of many types of jobs, modes of transportation, and increasing urbanization which require people to stay at a particular place all the time. eg office jobs, drivers etc.
- Beverages have high calories: People can drink many calories without feeling full, especially calories from alcohol. Other high-caloric beverages, such as soft drinks, can also cause weight gain.
- Diseases and medications: Some cases of obesity can be linked to a medical cause, such as Prader-Willi syndrome, Cushing syndrome and other conditions. Some medical problems, such as arthritis, can lead to decreased mobility, which may result in weight gain. Also, medications like antidepressants, anti-seizure medications, diabetic medications, antipsychotic medications, steroids and beta blockers can cause weight gain in patients they are prescribed to.
- Stress: Many external factors that affect your mood and well-being may contribute to obesity. People often seek high-calorie foods when experiencing stressful situations. I’m sure you can relate to this.
- Poor sleep hygiene: Not getting enough sleep or too much sleep, can cause changes in hormone levels that increase your appetite. You may also crave foods high in calories and carbohydrates, which can contribute to weight gain.
- Pregnancy: Some women tend to gain weight during pregnancy and this weight is usually difficult to lose. Breastfeeding might help in losing the weight gained during pregnancy.
- Gut microorganisms: Your gut bacteria are affected by what you eat and may contribute to weight gain or difficulty losing weight.
- Quitting smoking: Smoking cessation has been linked to weight gain. For most people, it can lead to enough weight gain to qualify as obesity. This happens because people use foods to cope with smoking withdrawal. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t quit smoking.
- Previous attempts to lose weight: Previous attempts of weight loss followed by rapid weight regain might increase your risk of gaining weight. This is sometimes called yo-yo dieting, it can eventually slow your metabolism.
Complications of obesity
- Heart disease,
- Type 2 diabetes
- Certain types of cancers that are some of the leading causes of preventable, premature death (examples include: breast, prostate, endometrial, ovarian, liver, kidney, gallbladder, and colon).
- Musculoskeletal diseases (mostly osteoarthritis – a highly disabling degenerative disease of the joints);
- Sexual problems: Obesity might cause infertility and irregular periods in women. Obesity also can cause erectile dysfunction in men.
obesity and mental health
Obesity can diminish your overall quality of life and also affect your mental health. You may not be comfortable doing things you normally do; things like participating in enjoyable activities. You may avoid public places. People with obesity may even encounter discrimination.
I have a friend who was bullied and discriminated by friends and family because they made her feel she was obese. I watched her deal with self esteem struggle and inferiority complex. She also felt her body was never good enough even when she started exercising regularly I had to keep reassuring her and speaking positives to her.
Mental side effects of obesity include:
- Social isolation
- Low self esteem
- Inferiority complex
- Problems with self confidence
- Suicidal thought
What ever weight stage you are in, you can take steps to prevent unhealthy weight gain and its health related consequences. These are the same steps we take to lose weight. They include:
- Exercise regularly: Moderately physical activity such as walking, swimming etc can help prevent weight gain. WHO recommends regular physical activity (60 minutes a day for children and 150 minutes spread throughout the week for adults).
- Eat healthy meal: Focus on low-calorie (low carb and low fat), nutrient-dense foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Limit saturated fats, sweets and alcohol. Eat three regular meals a day with limited snacking.
- Avoid gatherings, groups and associations that make you to eat a lot: Identify situations that trigger out-of-control eating. Try to keep a tag of what, when, and how much you eat. After a while, you should see patterns emerge. You can plan ahead and develop strategies for handling these types of situations and stay in control of your eating behaviors.
- Monitor your weight regularly: Try to weigh yourself at least once a week this will help you monitor your weight and avoid gaining excessive weight. It also helps you ensure your efforts are successful.
- Stay consistent: Whatever weight plan you decide on working with, stick with it and stay consistent during the week, on the weekends, and amidst vacations and holidays. This increases your chance of long-term success.
See your doctor if you are experiencing any complications.