You have probably anticipated this all week!
Over the next couple of days, we will discuss a problem that has become rampant in the last few decades: obesity.
Tackling obesity has now spread from being plainly a health problem to that of a social problem too. Telling someone that losing some weight will help reverse some of their other issues like joint pain, high blood pressure, irregular menstruation, and even inability to get pregnant has somehow gone from becoming health advice to social bullying.
Obesity, again, falls under the category of both preventable and reversible conditions. In this article we will examine the top 9 main causes for obesity.
Genetics is an important factor, although not a direct cause of obesity. Children of obese parents have a higher chance of becoming obese themselves.
However, this does not mean that the outcome cannot be changed. If your genes are more likely to increase your predisposition to obesity, making the appropriate lifestyle changes will help you bring down that risk.
Genetics is never a determining factor in developing a condition. It only contributes to the overall risk.
#2 Processed Junk Foods
Heavily processed foods or engineered junk foods are manufactured to be cheap, have a higher shelf life, and taste very good.
These foods, if you could call it that, consists of highly refined ingredients and additives. This causes individuals who consume them regularly to get hooked to them. Overeating unhealthy foods directly leads to obesity.
#3 Food Addiction
Sweetened, high-fat, processed junk food stimulates the “reward centers” in the same way addictive substances do.
Junk food addiction causes individuals to lose control over their eating choices. They become a slave to the biochemical reactions in the brain.
Although food addiction is a complex problem, it is not incurable. It can be overcome with some determination and self-control.
Companies that manufacture junk food employ aggressive marketing tactics. Not all of them maybe ethical. For example, they may project extremely unhealthy food to look healthy. Moreover, their target marketing demographic is usually children. India has a childhood obesity prevalence of 20% (Ranjani, 2016).
Children getting conditioned to junk food are more likely to become addicted to junk food as adults.
Certain medications could have weight gain as a possible side effect. Antidepressants, antipsychotics, and certain drugs for diabetes could promote appetite and reduce metabolism. These drugs, however, do not decrease will power. Before being prescribed any medication ensure that you are aware of all the possible side effects so that you can be prepared to avoid or overcome them.
#6 Leptin resistance
Leptin resistance is a condition in which the hormone leptin is unable to cross the blood brain barrier to signal the brain cells about the level of fat stores.
Leptin is a hormone that monitors fat levels in the cells and relays the information to the brain. When this does not happen, the brain cells would continue signalling for more fat storage in the cells instead of using them up for energy.
This is what happens in individuals who are obese or prone to obesity.
#7 Food availability
Today food, especially junk food, is very easily available. The rise of several fast food chains and food delivery apps has made it very easy and convenient to access unhealthy food. People prefer to order in, rather than cook with fresh ingredients since it is convenient and saves their time. Overtime this habit, coupled with reduced physical activity contributes to weight gain and eventually obesity.
#8 Added sugar
An aspect of modern diet that needs to be eradicated! Nothing good has ever come from this. Studies have shown that added sugar could alter the biochemistry of the hormones and contribute to obesity.
Although the internet is filled with useful information, it also carries a good amount of “noise”. While some people are able to separate the correct information from sweeping claims, a vast majority fall victim to it.
Recent trends like the “body positivity” movement have added to the noise. While it is great to accept your flaws and work on overcoming it, obesity is far from being just a minor flaw. It is a health hazard. People should understand that being obese is not a fashion trend, but an unhealthy profile which comes with several health complications.
Do not get distracted by misinformation. Get back to the basics: eating healthy, getting ample physical exercise, and keeping your body-mass index in control.