Statistics from 2014 show that 70.2 percent of adults have been considered to be overweight or have obesity. In fact, 80% of adults in the United States do not meet the government's national physical activity recommendations and 45% are not active enough to achieve health benefits. 117 billion dollars of healthcare costs are associated with inadequate physical activity. Obesity problems are linked to increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, certain cancers, and other chronic conditions. In the United States, obesity-related conditions cost over 150 billion dollars and cause an estimated 300,000 premature deaths per year. Therefore; it is very important to identify the causes of obesity and prevent it. There are many causes of obesity such as the fat stored in body, genes, stress, and environmental factors.
The fat stored in the body is one of the main reasons of obesity. A person's genetic makeup and level of physical activity is what determines the balance of calories stored and burned. Energy imbalance occurs when the energy you take in is more than the energy that goes out. A person takes in energy from the things they eat and drink, energy goes out with physical activity. Obesity is developed overtime when there is energy imbalance so excess calories are stored in the body as fat. Even small amounts like 1%-2% of excess energy intake results in large long-term body weight. Adipose tissue stores excess fat by enlarging fat cells that are already present in the body or by creating more of them. Overtime, continually eating excess calories will cause the fat cells to enlarge resulting in weight gain.
Genes contribute to obesity in many different ways. Scientists have found that 147 gene regions are associated with obesity. Forty-nine of the areas are associated with metabolic processes and ninety-seven of these affect appetite. Genes have influence on how much a person will eat so they have influence on the weight as well. The strength of genetic influences in obesity varies from person to person. For some people, genes may contribute to their obesity by 25 percent and for others, it may be as high as 70 percent to 80 percent. More than 400 genes have been accounted for having influences on obesity. Obesity risk is two to eight times higher for a person with a family history compared to a person with no family history of many people have a genetic predisposition that may lead to obesity. Genes affect appetite, metabolism and satiety; the sense of fullness. These are the factors that control how much we eat and how much we burn, therefore; genes have a huge impact on our weight. Another way genes influence our weight is that they have control over our tendency of using eating in a way to cope with stress.
The hormone stress releases, push people toward eating. If it is a short term stress, the brain produces an appetite-suppressing hormone called corticotropin-releasing hormone. As part of the process, signals are sent to the adrenal glands that trigger their production of adrenalin, which temporarily suppresses any urge to eat. Researchers have found out that long-term stress causes the release of excess cortisol; a hormone that plays an important role in managing the fat storage and energy use in the body. Cortisol increases appetite and causes cravings for foods that are high in sugar and fat. If the stress does not pass, cortisol and appetite levels remain increased. Eating foods during stressful times can be an attempt to self-medicate but overeating is not the only effect of stress. Stressed people sleep less, exercise less and drink more alcohol. These are all risk factors that lead to obesity. A recent study proved that human body processes food differently when under stress. Under stressful conditions, humans gain significant amounts of fat with the same diet compared to their stress-free times.
Environmental factors are outside factors that contribute to obesity. Diabetes and smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of the baby being overweight. Childhood habits such as eating junk food will lead to weight problems in the future if it is extreme. Kids who are addicted to videogames and avoiding physical activity may have problems burning the excess calorie which may lead to obesity. Food marketing has a huge impact on obesity. Individuals are shown images of foods that are high in fat and calories but inexpensive pricing. These foods are packed in size portions that exceed the federal recommendations. In the United States, employed people spend one quarter of all their time at work. Todayâ€™s work environments provide easy access to unhealthy food with vending machines. Work environments also increase stress levels which may cause eating excess junk food. Todayâ€™s physical demands of the society have changed, which led to an imbalance in energy intake and expenditure.
Genes, stress and environmental factors have impact on fat stored in the body which leads to obesity. When the amount of calorie intake is more than calories burned, excess calories are stored in the body as fat causing weight gain. Genetic influences such as diabetes or obesity in the family increases the likelihood of obesity. Genes have control over using eating in a way to cope with stress. Chronic stress causes the release of hormones that leads to excess eating. Environmental factors has a huge influence on obesity. Todayâ€™s â€œobesogenicâ€ environment encourages people to eat more and stressful lifestyles compound the effects of environmental factors by decreasing weight loss efforts and by promoting eating foods high in fat and sugar. Combating the obesity demands environmental and social policy changes, particularly in the areas of portion size, availability of healthful foods, and promotion of physical activity.
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