Obesity the cause and effect

Obesity has always existed in human populations but was more rare than common until energy rich, processed foods became more available. There are so many contributing factors to weight gain, but here is a list of the primary ones.

 

Genetics

It is clear that having obese relatives in your family increases your risk for obesity. The genetic predisposition to excess weight is increased by high calorie, easily available, processed foods. This creates a population that is more sensitive to carbohydrates, which store more easily as fat. Science shows that genetics do play a role in obesity.

 

Environment

It is true that food has never, in the history of man, been so readily available to the masses. Add to that a myriad of fast food options, easy food preparation, larger portions and an un-ending selection of snacks; it is easier than ever to get food. The ease, at which we have access to snacks and prepared foods high in calorie, is a big contributing factor to the obese epidemic in our country.

 

An Imbalance of Energy

Seattle Weight Loss Obesity Education.jpg
Energy is another word for “calories” and one that will make better sense as we look at the imbalance and how it relates to our weight. Energy balance is the balance of calories consumed through eating and drinking compared to calories burned through physical activity.

What you eat and drink is ENERGY IN.
What you burn through physical activity is ENERGY OUT.

In order to maintain a steady, healthy weight, the energy in and the energy out should be equal to each other.

How many calories you need each day, ENERGY IN, depends on a few things:

– Your age
– Your gender
– How active you are

The following information is divided by age and activity to give you an idea of how many calories you need to consume each day.

– Not Active – Not much ENERGY OUT. Does only light activity needed for daily life.
For instance, cooking or walking to the mailbox.
– Somewhat Active – Some ENERGY OUT. Does physical activity equal to walking quickly for 1 ½ to 3miles (about 30–40 minutes) each day. Plus, does light activity needed for daily life.
– Very Active – A lot of ENERGY OUT. Does physical activity equal to walking quickly for more than 3 miles each day (more than 40 minutes). Plus, does light activity needed for daily life.

activity-level-table

One pound of weight equals 3500 calories. It’s also safe to say that all 3500 calories are not created equal. When we eat more calories than we are able to burn, those extra calories are stored as fat.

The flip side of that is, in order to lose a pound of excess weight you must consume 3500 fewer calories.

 

Culture

Our culture and many of our social events have an element of food in them. From family gatherings, dinner out with friends, to birthday and anniversary celebrations, we enjoy the social dynamics of food and it is often the anchor for our gathering or event.

For those who are lonely or struggling in their life, food can be an emotional comfort for them. Happy or sad, food seems to play an important part in our culture.

 

Injury, Disease, Illness and Medications

Seattle Weight Loss Obesity Education.jpgFor whatever the reason, many struggle with weight gain due to injuries. An injury can often hamper the ability to exercise, while disease, illness and the medications required for treatment can cause weight gain. This leads to a domino theory battle in the struggle against weight gain.

 

Age and Gender

As we get older we can see increased weight gain due to inactivity. Females going through hormonal changes often complain of weight gain.

When you look at all the contributing factors of weight gain and take into account all the data that is available, it is clear that the combination of genetics, our environment and cultural behaviors do impact our lives.

The progression of obesity in the United States is also contributing to an increase in disease related illness. The correlation between diabetes and obesity is on the rise.

Obesity Trends Among US Adults 1995
Obesity Trends Among US Adults 2000
Obesity Trends Among US Adults 2005
Obesity Trends Among US Adults 2010

Obesity is a risk factor for many chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. The CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), survey data shows that the obesity problem in our country is getting worse. The State of Washington is 27.2%.

Obesity prevalence (Commonalities) in 2013 varies across states and territories

– No state had a prevalence of obesity less than 20%.
– 7 states and the District of Columbia had a prevalence of obesity between 20% and <25%.
– 23 states had a prevalence of obesity between 25% and <30%.
– 18 states had a prevalence of obesity between 30% and <35%.
– 2 states (Mississippi and West Virginia) had a prevalence of obesity of 35% or greater.
– The South had the highest prevalence of obesity (30.2%), followed by the Midwest (30.1%), the Northeast (26.5%), and the West (24.9%).

For more info on obesity trends visit: www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/trends.html