The global obesity rate has nearly doubled since 1980, and there are now over 200 million obese men and nearly 300 million obese women, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. In the United States, more than one third of adults (or 78.6 million people) are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Obesity is usually defined by using a ratio of height to weight called body mass index (BMI), which usually correlates with a person’s level of body fat. According to the CDC, an adult with a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.
At a fundamental level, obesity occurs when people regularly eat more calories than they burn, but actually a number of factors can contribute to obesity, including:
- lack of physical activity
- lack of sleep
- genetics and certain medications that slow calorie burn, increase appetite, or cause water retention, such as corticosteroids, antidepressants, or some seizure medications
Modern culture, conveniences, and other environmental factors also, in part, contribute to obesity. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, environmental factors that promote obesity include:
- oversized food portions
- busy work schedules that don’t allow for physical activity
- lack of access to healthy foods at supermarkets
- lack of safe places for physical activity
Because friends share similar environments and carry out activities together that may contribute to weight gain, obesity has also been found to “spread” socially among friends according to a 2011 study published in the American Journal of Public Health.
Certain health conditions also can lead to weight gain, including:
- Hypothyroidism — an underactive thyroid gland that slows metabolism and causes fatigue and weakness
- PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome — which affects up to 10 percent of women of childbearing age and can also lead to excess body hair and reproductive problems
- Cushing’s syndrome — which stems from an overproduction of the hormone cortisol by the adrenal glands and is characterized by weight gain in the upper body, face and neck
- Prader-Willi syndrome– a rare condition in which people never feel full, and so they want to eat constantly, according to the Mayo Clinic
Although there are lots of fad diets, such short-term dietary changes are not the best way to maintain a healthy weight, the CDC says. Instead, people should aim to make long-term changes, such as eating healthy on a regular basis, and boosting daily physical activity. Even small amounts of weight loss — such as 5 to 10 percent of your total body weight – can have health benefits, the CDC says.
For people who are still severely obese after attempting to lose weight through diet and exercise, other treatments, such as bariatric surgery, may be an option. Bariatric surgery is recommended for people with a BMI of 40 or more, or if they have a serious health problem related to their obesity and have a BMI of 35 or more. In many cases, people with a BMI of 30 or more are eligible for one type of bariatric surgery if they also have at least one health problem linked with obesity.
If you’re struggling with obesity and live in the Las Vegas area, schedule an appointment with VIP Surg. Our experts can help find the right treatment for you.