Obesity is a condition in which the natural energy reserves are increased to a point that is considered compromising to the body in terms of disease.
Obesity can afflict all age groups and all nationalities, although some races tend to be particularly predisposed. In Australia, according to the statistics, there are more than half of all the adults or 7.4 million people that are over weight. This is an alarming figure and the number is increasing as the years go on.
More food is advertised on TV than any other product. It is this constant bombardment that makes it increasingly difficult for people to believe that they actually don’t need to be eating all the time. Often the food that is advertised is not healthy. The big name take- away food places are doing big business. Big name junk food companies are also supporting Nutritional Institutes. The fast food industry is making a lot of money from a lot of different companies. Some of the following conditions are associated with obesity:
- type 2 diabetes
- respiratory problems
- sleep apnea
- high cholesterol
- some cancers
- gall bladder disease
Other factors can include:
- growth hormone deficiency
- oral contraceptive use
- medication – related
It is always important to consider all aspects of weight gain as it can often be due to other causes other than over-eating or simply eating the wrong foods.
Factors that can contribute to obesity are environment, genetics, the way your body changes food and oxygen into energy, habits and emotional behaviours.
These, singularly or combined, can have a dramatic effect on our weight. Men have a body fat percentage of 15-20 %, whereas women have a body fat percentage of
25 – 30 %.
Often when people suffer from a stroke their mobility can be somewhat limited, depending on the severity of the stroke. Impaired mobility can lead to weight gain in some individuals.
Weight gain can also be a contributing factor to suffering a stroke. Atherosclerosis, or narrowing of the arteries, which may lead to the formation of an arterial blood clot, is an important pre-condition of many strokes. Atherosclerosis is accelerated by high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol and lack of exercise.
Type 2 Diabetes
Adult onset diabetes accounts for about 90-95% of all diabetes and is caused by a combination of insulin resistance and a relative insulin deficiency. 80% of sufferers are overweight and physically inactive. This was once considered to be a middle age disease but with the increase in child obesity it is being diagnosed at every age.
Hypertension means that your blood is pumping at a higher pressure than normal through your arteries. Hypertension is a common disorder of the circulatory system when someone suffers from obesity. An unhealthy lifestyle can lead to hypertension. Obesity, lack of exercise, kidney disease and heavy drinking can also contribute to this condition.
The thyroid is a gland that is located in the lower part of the neck, below the Adam’s apple and is part of the endocrine system. It is responsible for producing several hormones that control the way that every cell in the body uses energy. It regulates how many calories we burn, our temperature and general metabolism.
Hyperthyroidism is a condition caused by an overactive thyroid gland. The gland produces too much T3 & T4 hormones. The thyroid gland removes iodine from the blood (which comes mostly from seafood, bread and salt) and uses it to produce thyroid hormones. The two most important thyroid hormones are thyroxine ( T4 ) and triidothyronine ( T3 ) representing 99.9% and 0.1% of thyroid hormones. The hormone with the most biological activity is actually T3. Once released from the thyroid gland into the blood, a large amount of T4 is converted into T3– the more active hormone that affects the metabolism of cells.
Hormones are responsible for many important functions in the body. Hyperthyroidism can often go undetected as the symptoms can be quite gradual at the beginning. Some people may gain weight and also become irritable but the irritability is usually put down to the weight gain having an effect on their outward appearance. Hyperthyroidism can be responsible for unexplained, persistent increase in appetite which of course can lead to unwanted weight gain.
Respitory Problems and Sleep Apnea
Respiratory problems are common among obese people. Breathing can become difficult as the lungs are decreased in size and the chest wall becomes heavy and difficult to lift. Obesity can also cause sleep apnea which is a serious condition that causes people to stop breathing during sleep.
High cholesterol affects many people and can be the cause for serious health problems. Cholesterol is an essential type of fat that is carries in the blood. These are called lipoproteins. All the cells in our body need cholesterol for various functions, including hormone production. The body is usually able to produce all the cholesterol it needs for the various functions.
When an excess of saturated fats are consumed it can accumulate in the blood stream. The excess can cause problems such as heart disease.
Lipoproteins are named according to their size:
- very large particles are called Very Low Density LipoProteins (VLDL)
- the intermediate sized ones are called Low Density LipoProteins (LDL)
- the smaller ones are called High Density LipoProteins (HDL) – these smaller ones actually help to protect the body against heart disease.
Many of us resolve to lose weight and reach our target each year but many give up as the weight seems to regain at an alarming rate. Many will be tempted to try new and so-called miraculous fads and diets that come on the market, they join weight loss clubs, binge diet, starve themselves, take pills and laxatives, eat portion-controlled meals, exercise vigorously, resort to surgery or live on ‘shakes’. This is a billion dollar industry that is ever-increasing. Often the ‘failure’ to lose the desired weight will create guilt and shame. This emotional roller coaster is causing grief to thousands of people. The despair and disappointment runs deep. There are often unwanted side effects from taking pills or putting the body through such unnatural restrictions that it can cause a person more problems than they originally started out with. This grief and disappointment can even cause the person to eat more food to help deal with these emotions.
When you analyze things it all seems too simple – isn’t it just a matter of monitoring the intake of calories and the expenditure of energy? If we get this in balance won’t the weight just fall off and stay off? There are many variables that need to be taken into consideration. Some lean people can eat what seem huge amounts of food whilst on the other hand people that want to lose weight can simply walk past a bakery and still gain weight.
People that are on a calorie restricted diet are required to consume fewer calories than they actually need. This then prompts the body to use the stores.
There are two stores in the body. The first is glycogen, which is in the liver. This must first be depleted before the second reserve is used. The second reserve is fat. Glycogen is stored with water, such that one pound of glycogen lost involves the loss of 3lb of water. Weight loss may be rapid in the first week depending on glycogen stores. The water loss must be corrected otherwise the person may feel weak and tired. Stored fat breakdown is called lipolysis. This type of weight loss will work for those people that simply eat too much food and also eat the wrong type of food.
If a person is eating the correct types of foods, not eating between meals, eating at regular times and exercising regularly as well as drinking plenty of water the weight imbalance may rectify itself, unless of course there are other contributing factors as previously mentioned. One of those factors is hormones.
The endocrine system is made up of glands that secrete hormones into the bloodstream. Hormones are chemical messengers that regulate body processes. The endocrine system works with the nervous system as well as the immune system to provide the body with the resources to be able to cope with different situations. Excesses or deficiencies of hormones can lead to weight gain.
The hormone, leptin is produced by fat cells and is secreted into the bloodstream. Leptin works by reducing the urge to eat as directed by the brain. Leptin is a protein hormone that helps to regulate energy intake and energy expenditure. Leptin is produced by adipose tissue and interacts with six different types receptors. Leptin binds to the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus, known as the appetite centre. Smoking encourages the production of leptin, but when some people give up smoking this seems to inhibit it.
Consequently people can have excessive weight gain whilst still eating the same amount of food.
Oestrogen dominance can interfere with the thyroid function, which can also cause weight gain. Oestrogen dominance is brought about by a lack of progesterone production.
Oestrogen is one of the female sex hormones made by the ovaries, as well as the adrenal glands after menopause.
Xenooestrogens, which are chemical substances that mimic oestrogens, come from our toxic environment. These can be about 1,000 times more potent than the normal body oestrogens. These can be stored in the fat tissue.
Not only do our bodies store fat, but they also accumulate chemicals, which are stored in the fat. The EPA has done studies in which human fat was tested for chemicals. Styrene residues, dioxins, xylene and 1,4-dichlorobenzene were found in 100% of the biopsies that were done.