Overweight and Obesity: Symptoms and Side Effects
Have you heard of this quote from the French playwright Molière?
“One should eat to live, not live to eat.”
It's quite a popular one and you most probably heard it in connection to dieting and the ideal healthy lifestyle. Maybe you’ve even heard some goody-two-shoes use it to lecture people he/she saw lovingly cradling a pint (or two) of chunky monkey. Am I right?
But humor aside, saying “No!” to a slice of luscious red velvet cake, some scrumptious pepperoni pizza, or that tub of ice cream is probably one of the most difficult things to do in the world. Believe me, been there, done that… and probably more times than I’d like to admit. And I totally agree, craving (and trying not to devour) yummy food can be a real struggle, especially if they’re so readily accessible.
Succumbing to your cravings, however, may be one of the worst things you can do to yourself. Why? Because it takes little to no effort to become chubby Winnie-the-Pooh (no matter how adorable he may be) than to pretend you’ve remained the svelte Olive Oyl. And you may also not like all the consequences that come along with indulging that persistent sweet tooth you have… in the long run.
So what is obesity then, how serious is it, and what can you do about it? Let’s check then, shall we?
The Lowdown on Obesity
It’s incredibly easy to say “Aye!” to seconds… even to third, fourth, or fifth helpings. Heck, it's super easy to just absentmindedly gobble food until everything's gone. And who can blame us when there are lots of delicious temptations everywhere, right? But once one starts gaining those extra pounds, one may find them not as easy to shake off… and keep off. And this is probably why obesity has become one of the top health problems around the globe today.
In a nutshell, obesity is a chronic health condition in which a person has a body mass index (BMI) that is equal to or greater than 30. And it is usually the result of an imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended. More often than not, a person consumes more calories than his body can convert to energy and use. You see, only the first thousand calories, which are called glycogen, are stored in the muscles and liver. These get to be used first. The rest, the leftover calories, are stored into fat cells, which are called triglycerides. These are only brought out once the glycogen reserves are all used up.
Today, it has become one of the leading problems in the United States. Why? It’s because almost two-thirds of the adult population is considered obese. Even children are not spared from this dreadful epidemic. As a matter of fact, in the past 30 years, childhood obesity has more than doubled in young children and quadrupled in adolescents.
It’s certainly some cause for great concern. Don’t you think?
Now, most people think that being overweight and being obese are the same thing. But you can actually be overweight and not be obese.
Overweight vs Obesity
Most people have used these two terms interchangeably, but they don’t actually mean the same thing. Being overweight basically means as its name suggests. It is a condition in which a person exceeds the normal bodily weight of someone his age, height, and build. Being obese, on the other hand, is a condition in which a person has excess accumulated and stored fats in the body.
And there’s also a difference in body mass index (BMI). You are considered overweight if you have a BMI of 25-29.9. As soon as your BMI hits 30, then you’re considered obese.
These two conditions, however, are both considered not good for your overall health. Why? Because they can lead to complications that can reduce life expectancy and increase other forms of health conditions.
Like most health conditions, Obesity and/or becoming Overweight can be caused by various factors. What are they?
Lack of Sleep
Junk and Fast Food
Other Health Conditions
Among the top causes of these two conditions, however, is the hugely popular fast food that the country is currently (and it seems, perpetually) munching on. Unhealthy snacks are rampant in today’s society because they are easily accessible and cheap. Apparently, only a few people are willing to take time from their busy lives to whip up something healthy themselves.
Simply tragic! Don’t you think?
Warning Signs to Watch Out For
Now, the human body can't exactly give your brain a telegram that says you have this or that particular condition. Instead, it communicates these warning signs through various symptoms. So save for some flashing neon lights floating in front of your eyes, here are some symptoms you should watch out for... to determine if you may be munching too much fries or whoppers from Burger King.
The Not-So-Pretty Cheeks
If you've been consuming more calories than you should, then your cheeks could be rounder and you may even be sporting the telltale signs of a growing double chin.
The Incredibly Expanding Waistline
It’s normal that we all gain weight. That’s a fact of life. But if a not-so-old pair of jeans don’t fit you the way it did not so long ago, then... perhaps it’s better to drop that cupcake, honey.
When you start gaining weight, the excess fat tend to first get stored around the hips and belly. Office workers with mainly sedentary lifestyles also start gaining weight around the waist.
The Annoying Buzz Saw
If your partner complains that you’re keeping him up at night (because you’re… ahem, snoring), pay attention. You may have sleep apnea. This is a condition in which irregular breathing can disturb your sleep. Excess weight around the neck causes this. It narrows the airway and leads to shallow breathing or pauses in breathing. And this is because there is decreased oxygen in the blood.
According to WebMD, the most common cause of sleep apnea is excess weight and obesity.
The Bottomless Pit
A significant increase in appetite is a possible symptom of weight gain. More so if you are specifically craving for desserts and sweets.
When you feel stressed and depressed, the adrenal glands release the hormone cortisol. This leads to the increase in appetite. And then you start to turn to all kinds of comfort food, most of which are loaded with too much calories and trans fat.
The Breathless Charm
Do you offend find yourself trying to catch your breath? Do normal, everyday activities such as climbing the stairs, grocery shopping, or even eating tire you out easily? Well then, you’re probably packing on excess weight.
Extra fat in your body causes inflammation that can result to you feeling always tired, or worse, fatigued. Also, your respiratory capacity for muscle function decreases. In addition to that, it may also compromise the muscles in your respiratory system.
The “Boo Radley” Effect
And no, I don’t mean you become a cool mysterious hermit. It’s actually not as romantic as all that. What it simply means is that you may start to be suspicious of other people, and because of this you may start to avoid them altogether and become a veritable hermit.
Well, having extra weight may likely give someone personal issues. They’d feel embarrassed of how they look and they’d lack confidence, thinking that people around them are judging them. So in order not to be made fun of, you decide to drop from the face of the earth.
The Extra Sensitive Ones
Being overweight causes inflammation, which makes the fatty tissue beneath your skin feel tender to the touch. This can lead to some spotty bruising. If you easily feel pain (like bruising) in random places all over your body, then perhaps it’s high time to shed some weight.
The Dreaded Marks
And no, I’m not talking about witchy occult symbols. What I’m talking about are stretch marks. Yep, these just don’t appear on pregnant women, but also on people who suddenly find themselves with more of them.
Stretch marks are fine lines or stripes on the skin, and usually have different hue from the surrounding skin. This happens when your skin rapidly stretches to accommodate rapid growth of muscles and/ or fat. This causes the dermis to tear and so you get stretch marks.
The Poor Knots and Bolts
Excess weight can add extra pressure on joints because it wears down the tissue around them. This in turn makes moving first uncomfortable, then painful. The heavier you become, the more your joints will suffer, specifically the knees, back, and hips.
The Not-So-Happy Feet
When your feet tend to get sore easily, this is a sure sign you’re probably packing more in. Take note that your feet carry the weight of your entire body. Excess weight will wear your feet out, and they get sore and swollen. The swelling is due to the buildup of fluid in the tissues., which collects mostly in the feet.
The Frightful Extras
Other complications from obesity or becoming overweight are:
Neurological – headaches, stroke, dementia, vision loss from diabetes complications, false brain tumors, and diabetic neuropathy
Psychological – depression, anxiety, unnecessary stress, and eating disorders
Respiratory – asthma, sleep apnea, pulmonary embolism, and pulmonary hypertension
Urological – may lead to kidney cancer and diabetic kidney disease.
Circulatory – high blood pressure, high cholesterol, irregular heartbeat, atherosclerosis, poor circulation, heart problems, blood clots, peripheral artery disease, and certain lymph node cancers
Muskuloskeletal – arthritis (hips, knees, and ankles), lower back pain, and vertebral disk disease.
Gastrointestinal – acid reflux disease, esophageal cancer, colon cancer, colon polyps, fatty liver disease, cirrhosis, gallstones, liver cancer, and gallbladder cancer.
Digestive – pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
Reproductive – for women: irregular menstruation, infertility, ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, cervical cancer, breast cancer, and polycystic ovarian syndrome. For men: erectile dysfunction, infertility, and prostate cancer.
So You’re Overweight… What Now?
Well, the first thing we'd need to address is the elephant in the room (no pun intended, swears!). And that is the empty promises of "quick fixes" and “crash diets”. If you want to shed that excess weight, and keep it off, then you have to keep in mind that it will require hard work from start to finish.
Wait, back up... actually, there shouldn't be a "finish". It's because having a healthy lifestyle should be a continuous process.
So what can you do to fight obesity? Here are some tips that may be of help.
Do Aerobics Like It's the 80s
Exercise in general is good for burning those extra calories you’ve just devoured for lunch. Aerobics, in particular, combined with a low-calorie diet, is a very good combo for shedding those extra pounds. You may also add more physical activities to your daily routine such as a run around the park or doing walking your dog when you get home.
Aim to Be an Herbivore
Eat more fruits and vegetables. Not only are they loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, but they’re also very low in calories.
Banish that Sweet Tooth
Curb that impulse to reach out for that slice of cake or ice cream cone. You may have it on really special occasions but don’t make it a daily habit.
Say No to Processed Food
Most processed food are loaded with preservatives and calories. If they’re not loaded with sugar and salt to make them taste better, they’re loaded with trans fat. Believe me, you don’t want to eat that hotdog, or you may very well regret it later.
No Way, Jose, Mr. Tequila
Some people may not know this but alcohol is loaded with calories. Yep, those light beers your chugging every night with dinner may not be as light as you think. So just to be on the safe side, refuse that beer mug today so you won’t have bloating regrets tomorrow. Right?
Just remember that being healthy is not a passing fad, it's a lifestyle. So you should plod on, be consistent, and persevere. Ultimately, your mind and body will be all the better for it.