Exploring the Causes of Obesity, a Chronic Disease

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Many people out there believe obesity is simply brought about by an inability to control one’s hunger. Thus, overeating occurs, and naturally, the body begins to accumulate unhealthy levels of body fat.


While there’s certainly some truth to this belief, the true causes of obesity are far more complicated.

First, it’s important to note that the American Medical Association (AMA) has officially recognized obesity as a chronic disease. This decision has far reaching implications not only for people who are obese, but for society as a whole.


What Are the Primary Causes of Obesity?


If you have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher you are considered to be obese. If you fall into this category you should see your medical provider as soon as possible.


Your doctor can help you evaluate and understand the risks your weight poses to your health and quality of life.


There are several primary factors that contribute to obesity. These include:


  • Unhealthy diet and eating habits – Simply put, if you take in more calories than you burn than you will inevitably gain weight. For instance, a high-calorie diet consisting of fast food and soda (a regular diet for many Americans) is a surefire way to quickly gain weight.


  • Inactivity – Humans aren’t meant to be sedentary. When you sit still for many hours of the day without significant activity, your ability to burn calories is greatly diminished.


Is obesity determined by just diet and exercise?


While diet and exercise play a major role in obesity rates, there are many other factors outside of our control that may increase our chances of becoming obese.


These include:


1. Medical issues


People who are diagnosed with Cushing’s syndrome or Prader-Willi syndrome have an increased chance of becoming obese. Even conditions such as arthritis, which could restrict movement, could eventually lead to unhealthy weight gain.


2. Family Ties


If one or both of your parents struggle with obesity, your chances of becoming obese are significantly increased due to shared genetics. Behavior also plays a role as it’s normal for children (adult or otherwise) to emulate the eating habits and behavior of their parents.


3. Pregnancy


It’s common for women to pick up significant weight while pregnant. In some instances, this weight can be difficult to shed and could lead to the beginnings of obesity if left unmanaged.


4. Environment


Life changing decisions can be made based on the environment you live in. If you live in an unsafe neighborhood, for example, you will be less likely to venture outside and exercise. The same can be said for neighborhoods that have inadequate sidewalks, discouraging daily walks.


5. Social and Economic Factors


Obesity can also be linked to social and economic factors. Some families simply don’t have the money to invest in healthy foods, and primarily eat fast food because it’s fast and cheap.


Furthermore, your parents or guardians may not have taught you how to eat a healthy diet as you were growing up. This is likely due to the fact that their parents did not teach them how to eat a balanced, healthy diet.


As a result, the chain will likely continue as you pass on unhealthy eating habits to your kids. Of course, this chain can be broken at any time by committing to a healthy diet.


6. Aging


As we age, our metabolisms begin to slow down and it becomes easier to pick up weight. Be mindful that obesity can occur at any age. However, you should work twice as hard to exercise and watch what you eat as you grow older.


How Does Obesity Affect Your Quality of Life?


Obesity can greatly decrease your quality of life. For instance, many obese people are no longer capable of participating in activities they were once capable of doing, such as playing sports, hiking, or other like activities.


Stigma also plays a role in how obese people approach their lives. People who are obese often feel judged and shamed by society.


You may also encounter the following issues due to obesity:

  • Disability
  • Shame and guilt
  • Depression
  • Social isolation
  • Low energy
  • Issues performing sexual activities


So Why is it Important to Recognize Obesity as a Disease?


Obesity will always be a threat to one’s health. However, the primary issue is not a health problem, but more so a perception issue.


Due to how obese people perceive themselves and how they’re viewed by society, they often fail to recognize the dangers posed to their health or seek appropriate treatment.


Classifying obesity as a disease not only highlights its severity, but also communicates to society as a whole that obesity, like any disease, is not simply the fault of the individual. Also, just like any other disease, obesity can be treated.


Any condition classified as a “disease” is generally taken more seriously by patients and society alike. For example, people diagnosed with cancer are generally viewed with empathy by society because it’s recognized that the disease is outside of their control.


Recognizing obesity as a disease encourages conversation about treatment options and allows patients to acknowledge their condition with less shame. This lessens stigma, and encourages more widespread support for treatment options.


Weight Loss Surgery as An Effective Treatment For Obesity


Ultimately, recognizing obesity as a disease encourages a change in public perception. This will prompt an open dialogue between patients and their medical providers about treatment options, and will help people to tackle their disease head on.


Thankfully, obesity can be managed and treated with weight loss surgery. Olde Del Mar Surgical is a premier bariatric clinic with a lengthy track record of helping patients in need.



We focus on helping you achieve your weight loss goals, so you can take control of your live once more. Contact us today to see what we can do for you.

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