Causes Of Overweight and Obesity
An International Problem
Nearly a third of the World´s population is overweight. That is 2.2 billion people - and no less than 710 million of them are obese. The trend towards overweight and obesity among children is specially worrying in some countries. Now, even babies are sometimes born already obese! The cause of the overweight problem is frequently obvious in many countries, but little is done about it.
The New England Journal of Medicine published, in June 2017, details of the alarming conclusions of an American study. This had looked at 2015 overweight and obesity data from 195 countries. The study considered that excess weight caused 4 million deaths in 2015 and that 40% of these deaths were of people who were overweight, but not obese.
Calories Taken In vs Calories Used
Regularly consuming more calories than are used up quickly leads to overweight and can eventually cause obesity.The calories used up depend on various factors, which include genes and also level of physical activity. The body still uses energy (= burns calories) even while at rest and the rate at which it does this also depends to an extent on genes.
Main Causes of Overweight and Obesity
Exactly the same can be said for children and parents in most developed countries in the world and, increasingly, in the developing ones as well.
The main cause of the overweight and obesity epidemic is that many people simply do not pay attention to what it is that makes them overweight. If they thought about it, most would soon see what it is that they are doing wrong and which is making them put on weight. They could then do something about it, before becoming obese.
"British children and parents are currently drowning in a world full of sugary drinks, cheap junk food and aggressive marketing."
Professor Simon Capewell,
Action on Sugar adviser
Causes of Weight Gain
Junk Food and Fast-Food - Unhealthy Snacks - Processed Food Even Some Healthy Food!
The modern diet is very unhealthy in a large part of the world and is considered by many to be the principal cause of overweight and obesity. It is full of generally unhealthy foods, often eaten in restaurants or fast-food outlets, and full of bad fats and sugar.
Portion size, specially in restaurants, tends towards the ridiculous. We are generally taught as children that we should clear the plate in front of us and even if we were not taught this, it is a natural to do so anyway. After eating a vast meal, there is nearly always room for a large, dessert. (More on sugar below.)
Junk food is often consumed to excess. This kind of food is generally greasy and full of unhealthy fats. Probably cooked in cheap oil, it has little nutritional value and is heavy on calories. You´re never far from a fast-food outlet, unless you live in the Australian bush a million miles from the nearest town. The industry spends many millions on promoting it.
Food and drink advertising, for often unhealthy food and sugar-laden drinks, is everywhere. Images of people with food, or drink, in their hands and a happy expression on their faces.
TV snacks are often a "must", while sitting or lying in front of the box. The snack is usually fatty and engineered to be close to addictive, with just the right amounts of salt, sugar, and various chemicals to make it hard to put down.
Manufactured foods are eaten to excess. Sold on their convenience, because who wants to cook in the evening, after being at work all day? They generally contain a lot of salt and sugar, plus chemicals that only chemists know.
Many medical and nutritional experts on the problems of overweight and obesity consider sugar to be the main culprit, or even the only culprit. Some even describe it as an addictive toxin, which is poisoning all of us and making an increasing percentage of the population obese.
The World Health Organisation came out with a halved sugar consumption recommendation in 2015. They cut recommended daily calories for adults to not more than 5% of total calorie consumption, which is equivalent to about 6 teaspoons of sugar for an average-sized adult. Almost nowhere is that suggestion achieved. Americans, say, consume about 22 teaspoons of added sugars a day. (Natural sugars broadly are those occurring naturally, mainly in fruits.) In the UK, government advisers recommended not more than 7 teaspoons a day of added sugars for adults, which is less than the sugar in a can of Coke. Actual sugar consumption per head is about 23 teaspoons a day.
There are various experts who believe that the overweight and obesity problem that now afflicts a large part of the world is caused by lack of exercise. They claim that overeating or sugar cannot be the cause, because calorie and sugar consumption has actually declined in various of the countries with the biggest problem. Calorie consumption has fallen, they say, but exercise has declined even more. Jobs tend to be less physical now and involve sitting for a large part of the day, while TV and computers take up most leisure time.
It seems obvious that genes must be at least partly responsible for overweight and obesity. If both your parents are obese, then there is an 80% chance that you will be too, but it is also possible that your obesity was caused by environment as you grew up.
On the other hand, it takes a very long time, centuries, to change genetic make-ups, while the obesity crisis has only been with us for about 50 years.
Experts generally say that obesity is clearly influenced by genes, because your genes can make you more susceptible to putting on weight for any number of possible causes. However, they say, there is nothing inevitable about this. Your genes may make you more likely to put on weight, but you can also prevent it by being careful with your diet and exercise.
Child overweight and obesity is a particularly worrying phenomenon. According to the American organisation CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), one in five American children, aged 6 to 19, is now obese. The UK is not much better, with nearly a third of children overweight/obese, according to Diabetes UK.. The cause of overweight and obesity among children is generally similar to the cause for adults. But is this genes or environment?
More on genes from Harvard Medical School
5. Home & Society Environment
A healthy diet and physical activity makes obesity unlikely and there is some argument as to which is more important. It is clear that they both important, but, unfortunately, a high proportion of the populations of many countries do neither of these two things. Missing either of would be a likely cause of overweight, but missing both increases drastically the chances of obesity later on.
The modern environment in most developed countries and, increasingly, the developing ones as well make a healthy lifestyle harder to maintain. If you walk a short distance to the supermarket, you are likely regarded as odd. We are bombarded everywhere and all the time with advertising for junk food, fast food chains and drinks that are packed with soda. By consuming that kind of food we are supposedly freeing up precious time that we can use to write a book.
Much of the promotion of unhealthy foods is directed at children and the young, contributing to the fast-growing overweight and obesity problem among them. Advertising for sweet foods is also directed primarily at this market and in many countries it is even sold in schools and hospitals.
Another environmental factor is the home in which people grow up. Is it one in which an effort is made to consume healthy foods and to limit the unhealthy ones? Does the family enjoy sports and, even better, participate in any? Are either of the parents overweight or obese? Obviously, these are all early things that are likely to condition the children and which they may carry forward into adulthood. The habits of a mother before a baby is born can affect that baby later on.
How to Lose Weight Permanently
Losing weight permanently is a matter of lifestyle, which includes diet and exercise. It´s not just a question of counting calories. The new lifestyle should make it easy to maintain the right weight, while eating as much as one wants.
The following are the main factors:
Losing weight permanently is a matter of lifestyle, which includes diet, exercise and other things. Keeping weight down is about more than just counting calories / it's also about a new balanced life.
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Mediterranean-style food is mostly cheap, easy to prepare. And delicious! nothing is prohibited, but some things are eaten only sparingly. Much less sugar is consumed and a lot of fruit and veg.
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Exercise is very important for controlling weight and also for feeling good about oneself. It soon becomes a very healthy habit, one you enjoy and which gives you vitality. Gentle, yet effective.
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The hardest part to a weight loss programme is to get started and then to keep it up. It´s important not to get disheartened by set-backs, but to keep going until the object is achieved. It´s really not so hard!
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