Obesity is a complex health problem involving an excessive amount of body fat. It results from a combination of factors such as poor diet choices, lack of exercise, genetics, health conditions, and environmental factors. Obesity isn’t just a cosmetic issue, it is a medical problem that can increase the risk of developing numerous chronic diseases and illnesses and can lead to a reduced quality of life.
Obesity is a growing problem in the United States and worldwide, and is associated with the leading causes of death, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and certain types of cancer. It is diagnosed when a person’s body mass index (BMI) is 30 or higher. BMI, however, doesn’t directly measure body fat. Some people may have a high BMI even though they don’t have excess body fat – such as muscular athletes. If you are unsure whether your BMI is healthy, speak with your doctor.
What Causes Obesity?
The body requires certain nutrients from the foods you eat, such as carbohydrates (sugars), proteins, and fats, to:
- Create energy for immediate use to power normal routine daily body functions and physical activities.
- Store energy for future use. Sugars are stored in the liver and muscles, while fats are stored primarily in fat tissue.
The body uses fat cells to fuel itself, regulate its temperature in response to cold, and store energy for future use. Obesity develops over time and is caused by an increase in the size and amount of fat cells in the body. Although body weight can be influenced by factors such as genetics, behavior, and metabolic and hormone factors, obesity primarily occurs when you take in more calories than you burn through exercise and normal daily activities. This creates an energy imbalance and causes the body to store excess calories as fat.
Many people’s diets are too high in calories due to fast food and high-calorie drinks consumption. People with obesity may also consume more calories before feeling full, feel hungry sooner, or eat more due to stress or anxiety.
How Does Obesity Affect The Body?
Obesity can affect the body in a number of ways. It causes the heart to work harder to pump blood around the body, which can lead to high cholesterol and high blood pressure (hypertension). It can also make the body’s cells resistant to insulin. Insulin is the hormone that carries sugar from the blood to cells to be used for energy. If you’re resistant to insulin, the sugar can’t be taken up by the cells, resulting in high blood sugar.
High cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar combined with excess body fat can make the blood vessels that carry blood to the heart hard and narrow, a condition known as atherosclerosis. This condition can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
People who are obese, compared to those of a healthy weight, are at increased risk for many serious diseases and health conditions, including:
- Metabolic syndrome
- Many types of cancers
- Type 2 diabetes
- Gallstones and gallbladder disease
- High blood pressure
- High blood cholesterol
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Sleep disorders (sleep apnea)
- Breathing problems
Being obese can also contribute to mental illness (such as clinical depression and anxiety), chronic pain, and difficulty with physical functioning. All of these issues lead to lower quality of life.
Treatment for Obesity
The good news is that even the smallest amount of weight loss can help to improve or prevent the health problems associated with obesity. If you are concerned about your weight or have a suspected weight-related health problem, ask your doctor about obesity management. Together, you can evaluate your health risks and discuss your weight-loss options, which may include dietary changes, increased physical activity, and behavior changes. In addition, prescription medications and weight-loss procedures may also be recommended to help some people treat obesity.
Concierge Internal Medicine for All Your Medical Needs in Tucson, AZ
If you would like support and advice to lose weight and improve your overall health, speak to the friendly staff at the medical office of Robert E. Lending, MD. Internal medicine physician Dr. Lending helps patients manage and prevent a wide variety of health care issues and medical conditions that can occur during a person’s lifetime.
Our concierge medicine program can offer comprehensive medical care 24/7 for all your medical needs. If you would like to find out more about our services, or how our concierge medicine program can benefit you, please call our office at (520) 795-4291. Alternatively, you can schedule an appointment using our secure online appointment request form.