Obesity is a term that we hear a lot, especially here in America. To a lot of people, obesity simply means overweight. However, obesity is a term that encompasses much more than being overweight. It is critical to your health and wellness to be aware of the associated risks of obesity and what you can do to maintain a healthy weight.
What is Obesity?
The first thing that you should know about obesity is that it is considered a disease. This means that it goes deeper than just the extra weight. According to the Mayo Clinic, obesity increases the risk for other health issues including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and some cancers.
How is it Diagnosed?
Obesity is diagnosed by measuring body mass index (BMI). If your BMI is 30 or over, you may be diagnosed with obesity. Although, it is important to note that BMI doesn’t directly measure body fat so people who have a lot of muscle may have a higher BMI but not be considered obese.
What is the Cause?
Ultimately, obesity is caused when you are taking in more calories than you are burning with exercise and normal daily life. Other factors can influence body weight including genetics, hormones, and metabolism.
In addition to genetic risk factors, other risk factors include things in everyday life including an unhealthy diet. An unhealthy diet consists of fast-food, high-calorie drinks, and large portion sizes. Healthy switches could include whole food choices, using portion control containers, and choosing to eat calories rather than drink them. This means actively trying to drink more water and cutting out high-calorie beverages such as soda and alcohol. Another risk factor is a sedentary lifestyle. This is troublesome because it doesn’t burn any calories which relate back to the root cause of obesity. A healthy switch could mean taking the stairs instead of an elevator and going for a walk on your lunch break.
Other factors that can lead to weight gain contributing to obesity can include quitting smoking, lack of sleeping, and stress. When you quit smoking it can lead to coping behaviors to take the place of smoking, which in some cases is eating. Not getting enough sleep can actually cause hormonal changes that increase your appetite. Lastly, when you’re stressed you may opt for easier food options (think fast food) which are usually higher in calories.
Additional lifestyle factors that can lead to obesity include pregnancy and trying to lose weight in the past. Many women have a difficult time losing weight post-pregnancy. Experts recommend trying breastfeeding to lose weight in this situation. If you have tried to lose weight in the past and they were followed by a rapid weight gain, this can slow your metabolism and make it difficult to lose weight in the present time.
Why Should You Care?
Obesity can lead to other serious health problems including heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, digestive problems, gynecological and sexual problems, sleep apnea, and osteoarthritis. In addition to serious health problems, obesity can impact your quality of life as well. Problems related to quality of life can include depression, disability, guilt, social isolation, and lower work achievements.
What can You Do?
There are steps that you can take to prevent obesity no matter your current health state. These steps will include the “healthy switches” that were mentioned earlier in the article such as exercising and healthy eating. Additional steps you can take include making yourself familiar of instances when you are known to over-eat. Making yourself aware of these situations will make it easier to control them. Additionally, you should be consistent with these tips to achieve long term success!