The loop of obesityBernice Clark ▼ | Friday November 30, 2012 6:01PM ET
A statement that excessive food intake and endocrine dysfunction play a profound role in obesity is just partially true. More often obesity is the cause of endocrine dysfunction rather than the other way around.
It can also be heard that genetics plays a large role in becoming overweight or obese. However, as in a case of an autoimmune disease, the genetic factor alone is not enough; there must be some other factor to trigger the disease.
It's like having a gas with fire: nothing happens until you put them close to each other. In a case of obesity that factor is excessive food intake.
If you have ever asked yourself why it's much easier to stop smoking, for example, than to lose weight, it's because excessive eating to obese people is as natural as walking or sleeping since they are doing that from the earliest age, while smoking is a new habit.
The food habits we learned in childhood are greatly influenced by parents and closely connected with how the family is dealing with problems.
If the answer to any situation is: "C'mon' sweetie, everythin' is fine, here's a chocolate", with time, she/he will start to think that eating is the answer to any problem.
As years go by, an average-sized, healthy, 3,5 kg newborn baby becomes an overweight teenager and later an obese or morbidly obese adult with the whole spectrum of health problems and food pattern like "I had a great day" (fridge), "It was a hectic day" (fridge), "I'll take a break now" (coffee with 3 sugars, snack + oversized drink).
When the amount of food exceeds the needs of the organism, it stores unneeded calories as fat. Add to that sedentary lifestyle and a fact that there's no upper limit of how much fat body can store, and you get a recipe for disaster.
Obese people eat in the same way as people who have no problem with weight - they eat until they are full. It just takes longer for their brain to get a message: "You may stop eating now, you're full."
Since the centre for appetite control is situated in the brain and not in the stomach, that is also the reason why there are people who gain even more weight when the intra-gastric balloon is removed.
A low concentration of sugar in the blood is also a factor that affects hunger feeling. To increase the blood sugar levels the lateral hypothalamus (a part of the hypothalamus, an area of the brain), activates the behaviour that each individual has for consuming food, and then we are opening the fridge.
With time obesity causes many disorders such as diabetes, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis (a disease in which plaque builds up inside arteries), thyroid gland problems... Just in the U.S. 29 million Americans have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease directly caused by obesity.
Obesity is also causing difficulties in abdominal surgery, preventing accurate diagnosis and postoperative course because of lungs complications and slow wounds healing.
Finally, in 95 percent of cases obesity causes endocrine disorders rather than these disorders lead to obesity.
Things start to complicate when a person decide to lose the weight. A phenomenon of temporarily increased body weight (or no change in weight) due to the compensatory water retention in the tissues camouflages fat lose what makes a person depressive, and she gives up on diet.
After some time weight goes down but not in the case of this person but in some other, more stubborn and persistent one.
The most common endocrine disorders that causes weight gain is hypothyroidism, an iodine deficiency disorder. Also, some types of weight gain are related to certain drugs. Examples are corticosteroids, certain antidepressants, tranquilizers and lithium.
The combination of obesity and, for example, corticosteroids, leads to weight gaining spiral, which, in turn, causes even more emotional and psychological issues and a new food intake. ■
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