Obesity has become an epidemic disease over last few decades for US. Obesity was not considered as serious disease before late 80s. However, gradual change in lifestyle has increased the prevalence of obesity dramatically over the last 20 years.
Approximately 17% of children and adolescents (aged 2 – 17 years) are obese and the prevalence is increasing exponentially day by day.
Causes of Obesity: Defining Obesity
Obesity is a disease of gaining unnecessary weight that might affect overall health and well-being of the person. The National Institute of Health defines obesity on the basis of body mass index (BMI).
Person having BMI more than 30 kg/m2 are considered as obese. Ideally, healthy person should have BMI of 25 kg/m2. Persons having BMI between 25 kg/m2 and 30 kg/m2 are classified as overweight. Overweight people are not considered as obese, but they are at increased risk of progressing to obesity.
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Impact of Obesity On Health
Obesity is a serious and costly condition as it is linked to many health conditions. Unfortunately many people don’t realize the “cost” of being obese on one’s life spread over many, many years.
Some of them are listed below:
- Increased Lipid Levels (Dyslipidaemia)
- Coronary Heart Disease
The health conditions associated with obesity mostly result in fatal outcomes. Currently, obesity leads to around 400,000 deaths every year in the US. Obesity and related health problems add a significant burden on US economy. As per the estimates of 2008, more than 147 billion dollars were spent in the treatment of obesity and associated health problems.
Main Reasons Behind Obesity In America
The imbalance between calorie consumption and expenditure one of the primary causes of obesity. It is well known that consumption of a high calorie diet, having a sedentary lifestyle or both can lead to obesity. Continuous efforts of the government and education through the health care system in the US has increased awareness about the importance of how we eat and how active we should be.
Recent research on obesity and endocrinology has increased the understanding of other factors that may also be responsible for imbalance between energy consumption and expenditure.
A) Genetic Factors:
Some people may have genetic codes that make them susceptible to obesity even if they are not eating calorie rich diet.
B) Brain Reward System:
Researchers have found that brain reward system of obese patients are more active than non-obese patients. Because of this, obese patients feel more pleasure in eating tasty foods.
C) Nutritional deficiency:
Deficiency of certain nutrients, especially Vitamin D, has been linked to increased prevalence of obesity. It has been observed that supplementing with adequate nutrition has helped the scientists in fighting against obesity.
What Causes Obesity & How To Prevent It
The following are some crude tips on how to prevent obesity:
- Avoid junk food and extra sugar
- Use whole grains
- Use sunflower oil instead of animal fat
- Break your meal into small but more frequent meals
- Dedicate at least 30 min of time for regular exercise like swimming, running or cycling a few times per day
- Maintain your health and weight by eating more fruits and vegetables
Those causes of obesity can pretty much be prevented by eating healthy foods and doing moderate exercise on weekly basis. Even patients with genetic and endocrinological problems can prevent obesity by adjusting their lifestyle to suits their body type.
Although everyone is slightly different we can all reduce our chances for obesity and the risk of other health conditions by maintaining an active lifestyle and healthy diet. The decision to improve one’s health starts with you.
The sooner you decide to make changes in your own lifestyle your life will begin to improve for the better from that day forward.