Causes and Consequences of Obesity
Obesity refers to an excess of body fat that results from an imbalance between calorie intake and energy burnt. The BMI is the unit of measuring levels of excess weight. This excess weight not only hampers your looks, but also increases the risk for a number of health issues aside from increasing chances of premature death; this makes obesity a source of major concern the world over and the second major source of preventable death in the US. Obesity knows no boundaries and is slowly emerging as a global epidemic.
Increased fat deposits increases vascular resistance, thereby increasing the work the heart does to pump blood around the body; this results in high blood pressure due to a greater pressure being applied to the inner walls of the arteries, thus increasing the health risks faced by such individuals. Obese people are more prone to have diseases of the heart and circulatory system, type 2 diabetes, strokes, osteoarthritis, certain kinds of cancers and of course, depression. The good part of all this is that obesity is reversible and once the decision to reduce weight has been taken, the chances for the associated diseases will also reduce accordingly.
Some of the known causes of obesity include one or more of the following:
- Genes and family history play a role in the development of obesity
- A lifestyle that doesn’t include sufficient physical activity or a healthy diet pattern
- Environment or community that does not encourage physical activity
- The individual’s metabolic system, and balance between intake and energy burnt
- Psychological factors, underlying diseases and drugs
Carrying extra kilos comes loaded with the risk of developing a whopping 50 or more health conditions; and the most compelling of these issues is the link between obesity and depression, which ends up creating a profound negative effect on the person’s daily life.
Some of these consequences of obesity include the following:
- A shortened life expectancy with a 50-100% risk of dying prematurely
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Breathing difficulties including sleep apnea and asthma
- Type 2 diabetes
- Painful joint problems including osteoarthritis
- Gallbladder problems
- Digestive disorders such as gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Problems with fertility and successful pregnancies
- Urinary incontinence
- Psychological problems including depression, negative self-image
- Social problems such as being discriminated against and social isolation
With increasing weight, movements become restricted and one tends to get short of breath after normal routine day-to-day activities. There might be other embarrassing consequences too such as being unable to fit into public transport spaces or cars suddenly appearing too cramped.
Conservative treatment for such debilitating conditions would include lifestyle changes with a clear-cut diet plan, regular exercise and medications. However, in most cases, people are seen to regain the lost weight within a year or two. Weight –loss surgery then becomes the next treatment of choice and has proven success ratings with those with morbid obesity.