According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 42 percent of American adults are considered obese. âObesity is a serious chronic disease, and the prevalence of obesity continues to rise in the United States,â they explain. In fact, they even use the word “epidemic” to describe the disease which, after smoking, is the most preventable cause of death in the country. What is it exactly and what is its number one cause? Read on for everything you need to know about obesity–and to ensure your health and that of others, do not miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.
Artur Viana, MD, Clinical Director of Yale Medicine’s Metabolic Health and Weight Loss Program, provides the official definition of obesity: a chronic, recurrent, multifactorial neurobehavioural disease in which an increase in body fat promotes adipose tissue dysfunction and abnormal physical forces of fat mass, leading to undesirable metabolic, biomechanical and psychosocial consequences on health.
âTo put it simply, it’s a disease that lasts for many years (chronic), which can get better and then get worse (recurrence), has many different causes that can be present at the same time,â says Dr Viana. “In obesity, there is an increase in body fat and adipose tissue (which is a tissue involved in many important regulatory steps in metabolism) does not work as it should.”
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While some people think of obesity in terms of appearance, the damage it causes inside the body is of greatest concern. âObesity is serious because it is associated with poorer mental health outcomes and reduced quality of life,â says the CDC.
Dr Viana specifies that health complications can include damage to the organ system leading to various problems such as diabetes, joint disease, gastroesophageal reflux, among others.
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Dr Viana reveals that there is no perfect way to diagnose obesity, but the most common way to do it is by calculating a BMI (body mass index). “It’s a number that is obtained by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by the square of their height in meters,” he explains.
A BMI of 30 or more is considered in the obese range. “However, this must be taken into consideration for each individual, because BMI is not a good reflection of health and does not take into account body composition,” he adds. For example, an athlete might have a BMI over 30 and not be obese, for example, or someone might have a BMI of 31 and not really have a health problem.
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Many factors contribute to obesity. âObesity is multifactorial, which means that many factors are involved and range from genetics, lifestyle, mental health issues (such as trauma) to side effects of medications,â says Dr Viana.
âBehaviors can include physical activity, inactivity, eating habits, drug use and other exposures,â adds the CDC. âOther contributing factors include the food environment and physical activity, education and skills, and food marketing and promotion. “
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According to Dr. Viana, there isn’t just one # 1 cause. âObesity medicine specialists wish there was a number one cause, because that would make treatment much easier,â he reveals. But the NIH is a bit more specific, saying the # 1 cause is “eating too much and moving too littleâ¦. If you consume large amounts of energy, especially fats and sugars, but don’t burn energy through exercise and exercise. activity, much of the excess energy will be stored by the body as fat. “
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Fortunately, obesity is preventable. “The best way to avoid it is to maintain a healthy lifestyle with exercise (the recommendation is at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, 5 times a week) and a healthy diet, which contains minimal processed foods and focuses on whole foods – foods such as lean protein, whole grains, vegetables and fruits, âsuggests Dr. Viana.
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If you are obese, you need to act right away. “If you are struggling with weight gain and you feel unhealthy or think it is affecting you in some way, talk to your primary care provider and they can advise you and, if necessary, refer you to a specialist in obesity medicine, âsuggests Dr. Viana. And to get through this pandemic in better health, don’t miss these 35 places where you’re most likely to catch COVID.