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Without a doubt, obesity and being overweight is one of the biggest problems many Americans face today. Being overweight and obese means you have too much unhealthy excess fat in your body.
Around 68 percent of Americans are overweight and obese. Even young children and adolescents are hit with this alarming epidemic. The percentage of children with obesity in the United States has more than tripled since the 1970s. And these numbers continue to soar.
Being overweight has immediate and long-term physical,emotional, and social side effects. For example, you are more at risk for having chronic health issues and diseases. These include asthma, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, metabolic issues, and digestive issues.
Overweight individuals get bullied and teased more often. This then leads to depression, social isolation, low self-esteem, and possibly even suicidal tendencies.
Causes that Lead to Being Overweight
There are many factors that influence a person’s weight. Read on to know more about them.
Studies show that genes have a strong influence on a person’s weight. Overweight and obesity tend to run in the family. A person’s chances of being overweight are high if one or both of the parents are overweight or obese.
Genes also has an impact on the amount of fat you store in your body. Also, it affects where on your body you carry the extra fat.
In addition, genetics can cause obesity in disorders like Prader-Willi syndrome and Bardet-Biedl syndrome.
Lack of Sleep
The more you get some Z’s, the lower your chance for being overweight. Research shows that lack of sleep increases the risk of obesity.
In a study of teenagers, it showed that with each hour of sleep lost, the odds of becoming obese went up. Lack of sleep increases the risk of obesity in other age groups as well.
People who sleep fewer hours are also drawn to food with higher amounts of calories and carbohydrates. This leads to overeating, weight gain, and finally obesity.
Sleep helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) or full (leptin). When you don’t get enough sleep, your level of ghrelin goes up. Your level of leptin then goes down. This makes you hungrier than when you’ve had an ample amount of rest.
Of course, women gain weight when they’re pregnant. This is in order to support their babies’ development and growth. After giving birth, many women try their hardest to lose all the weight they gained during pregnancy. However, some women have a harder try shedding those stubborn extra fats. Add in no extra time for exercise, and this is a recipe for possible overweight and obesity.
Leptin is a hormone that is crucial in obesity. It is produced by fat cells. It sends signals to the hypothalamus, indicating that we are full and that we should stop eating. The hypothalamus is the part of our brain that controls food intake.
Studies show that obese individuals have plenty of fats and, of course, plenty of leptin. Unfortunately, the brain becomes resistant to the leptin and ignores its signals. This is leptin resistance. This is one of the factors that lead to obesity.
Junk Food and Fast Food
Most, if not all, of the food available today are processed food. That means they have a lot of additives, flavoring, and harmful chemicals added to them. This makes them cheap, have a longer shelf life, and taste really good.
These highly engineered food obviously have no nutrient content and instead contains harmful elements that mess up our bodies. However, many Americans opt to buy them because they are cheaper and easily available than wholesome, natural, organic, and healthy food.
Unfortunately, some people don’t have a choice. Some have inborn health conditions that are bound to result in overweight and obesity. There are hormone problems that cause obesity, like hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and Cushing’s syndrome.
In hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland doesn’t make enough thyroid hormone. Lack of this hormone slows down the body’s metabolism. This causes weight gain.
PCOS is a condition where women’s levels of estrogen and progesterone are not balanced. This leads to ovarian cysts. This condition affects about 5-10 percent of women of childbearing age. Women who have PCOS are often obese, have excess hair growth, and have reproductive issues.
Lastly, in Cushing’s syndrome, the body makes too much of the hormone cortisol. If you have too much cortisol in your body, this leads to weight gain and obesity. Specifically, obesity hits the upper body, you have a rounded face, fat around the neck, but thin arms and legs.
There are many pharmaceutical drugs in the market that have weight gain as a negative side effect. Some examples are diabetes medication, seizure medication, corticosteroids, antipsychotics, and antidepressants. They alter the function of the brain and body, slow down the rate your body burns calories, causes your body to hold on to extra water, and increase your appetite. All these lead to overweight and obesity.
Many Americans are not physically active. Because of technology, many people prefer spending all their free time in front of TVs, computers, and their cell phones. Studies show that if you spend two hours or more in a day in front of the TV, you have a tendency to become overweight and obese.
The current environment we live in today is also a factor. We rely on transportation (cars or buses) instead of walking to our destination. Instead of spending time and effort to make a healthy home-cooked meal, we prefer eating fast food. Instead of using the stairs, we take the escalator or elevator.
Inactive people tend to gain more weight because they don’t burn the calories that they receive from food and drinks.
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