Obesity: The Disease that Keeps on Growing

A number of studies have shown that individuals who are obese are often stereotyped as “lazy” or “lacking in willpower.” However, obesity is no longer considered a cosmetic issue that is caused by overeating and a lack of self-control. The World Health Organization (W.H.O.), along with National and International medical and scientific societies, now recognize obesity as a chronic progressive disease resulting from multiple environmental and genetic factors.

In the United States, epidemiological data from a study that measured the actual body size of thousands of Americans, showed that 34 percent of adults more than 20 years old are affected by obesity and 68 percent are overweight (2007-2008 data). Obesity affected 10 percent of children between two and five years of age, 2 percent of those between 6 to 11 years old, and 18 percent of adolescents.

Throughout the last 3 decades, the prevalence of obesity has been increasing at an alarming rate. Since 1985, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has supported an ongoing study, conducted on a yearly basis by state health departments, to examine changes in obesity prevalence state-to-state, and has found the following:

  • In 1990, the obesity prevalence for most of the states was 10 percent or less.
  • By 1995, more than half the states had a prevalence of 15 percent.
  • By 2000, nearly half the states had a prevalence of 20 percent or higher.
  • Five years later (2005), all but three states had a prevalence greater than 20 percent and nearly a third had a prevalence of 25 percent or more.
  • By 2010, the data show that most of U.S. states had a prevalence of 25 percent and many had a prevalence of 30 percent or higher.

Obesity is considered a multifactorial disease with a strong genetic component. Acting upon a genetic background are a number of hormonal, metabolic, psychological, cultural and behavioral factors that promote fat accumulation and weight gain.

Many other conditions associated with obesity contribute to the progression of the AdobeStock_69574863 (2).jpgdisease. Obesity reduces mobility and the number of calories that would be burned in the performance of activity. Weight gain may also cause psychological or emotional distress which, in turn, produces hormonal changes that may cause further weight gain by stimulating appetite and by increasing fat uptake into fat storage depots.

Sleep duration is reduced by weight gain due to a number of conditions that impair sleep quality such as pain, sleep apnea and other breathing problems, a need to urinate more frequently, use of certain medications, and altered regulation of body temperature. Shortened sleep duration, in turn, produces certain hormones that both stimulate appetite and increase the uptake of fat into fat storage depots.

Weight gain also contributes to the development of other diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis and depression, and these conditions are often treated with medications that contribute to even further weight gain. In all of these ways and more, obesity ’begets’ obesity, trapping the individual in a vicious weight gain cycle.

Multiple factors acting upon a genetic background cause weight gain and obesity. Conditions associated with weight gain and biological changes in the body that occur as a result of weight gain contribute to progression of the disease, often trapping the individual in a vicious weight gain cycle. Obesity is a complex disease influenced by several issues, including genetic, physiological, environmental, and behavioral.

If you live in the Las Vegas area and are concerned about your weight, schedule an appointment with Dr. Shawn Tsuda to learn more about how to improve your weight and health.

 

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