Obesity occurs when you consume more calories than you expend. It is therefore the result of an equation between the amount of food ingested and daily physical activity.
In North America, obesity is one of the leading causes of preventable disease. It is estimated that in Canada, 36% of adults are overweight and 27% are obese. It is therefore 63% of the population who have a problem of overweight.
Of course, we must distinguish overweight from obesity, but we must not forget that significant untreated overweight frequently progresses to obesity.
What are the causes of obesity?
The main causes that lead to obesity are:
- A diet that is too rich: sugars, fats, etc.;
- No or low physical activity
- A family predisposition
- Certain diseases: hypothyroidism, metabolic disorders
- The stress
Who is affected? What are the risk factors?
It used to be thought that obesity was the result of a lack of willpower.
Several other factors come into consideration:
- The environment: people in North America who have daily access to junk food are more likely to be obese or overweight
- Certain genetic factors
- Aging: our metabolism slows down with age and we must therefore reduce our energy intake (or be more active) in order to maintain a healthy weight
- Certain illnesses, such as bulimia, for example
- Multiple pregnancies, when the woman does not return to her healthy weight after each birth
- Stress and psychological distress can lead to compulsive eating
- Lack of sleep
- Heavy alcohol consumption, because in addition to providing a large number of empty calories, alcohol inhibits hunger signals and stimulates the appetite
- Eating habits: too many meals eaten in restaurants, too large portions, prepared meals, etc.;
What are the main symptoms?
- A high weight
- A surplus of fat distributed in various regions of the body (belly, hips and thighs, buttocks, trunk, neck and face, etc.)
- Excessive sweating
- Respiratory weakness: the slightest effort causes shortness of breath (climbing stairs, for example)
- Sleep apnea
- Pain in the joints (back or knees, most often)
- Low self-esteem and, in some cases, a tendency to depression
Diagnosis of obesity
To diagnose obesity, specialists use several techniques, but the most common is that of BMI (body mass index). Although approximate, it is a calculation that helps define the extent of overweight. To determine a person’s BMI, divide the weight (in kilograms) by the height (in meters) squared. The results are easy to read:
- Less than 18.5: thinness
- Between 18.5 and 25: healthy weight
- Between 25 and 29.9: overweight
- Over 30: obesity
- Over 40: morbid obesity
In addition to calculating the BMI, the specialist (doctor, nutritionist or trainer) will carry out an overall examination to determine the location of the fat. For this, he will measure the waist circumference and the hip circumference. Finally, a questionnaire will help define the person’s eating and physical habits. Possible risks of complications
The number of diseases that result from overweight and obesity is more than impressive… It is estimated that the first disorders occur after about 10 years of obesity or significant overweight. The more the person is in a state of advanced obesity (the higher his BMI), the more serious will be the risks of suffering from the following diseases:
- Chronic joint problems and back pain
- Cardiovascular disorders: hypertension, cholesterol, heart failure, etc.;
- Metabolic disorders, such as diabetes or gout
- Respiratory disorders and sleep apnea
- Decreased life expectancy
- Venous thrombosis
- Increased risk of having a stroke
- Gallbladder stones
- Complications during pregnancy
- Depression and other psychological conditions due to low self-esteem, isolation, etc.
To get rid of obesity and thus avoid related diseases, it is necessary to make long-term changes in daily habits and food hygiene. This includes :
- Gradual weight loss supervised by a nutritionist
- A personalized daily physical activity program
- A drastic change in lifestyle
- In some cases, group or individual psychotherapy to help change relationships to food
There are also certain medications, available only by prescription, that can help with weight loss. They are usually only prescribed to people struggling with morbid obesity. All the so-called “miracle remedies” available in pharmacies without a prescription are ineffective in the long term and strongly discouraged by doctors.
In severe cases of obesity and when the health risks are serious in the short term, it is possible to use a surgical procedure that reduces the size of the stomach:
- Surgery or gastric bypass
- Installation of a ring to reduce the size of the stomach
- Stapling of stomach walls
The best way to prevent obesity is to lead a healthy lifestyle:
- Balance your diet: focus on minimally processed foods, eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, avoid consuming too much fat or sugar, etc.
- Drink healthy amounts of water: being thirsty can unnecessarily increase your appetite, and therefore eat without the need.
- Being physically active: practicing a physical activity that we enjoy allows us to adhere to it in the long term
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Keep a healthy and normal relationship with food: eat to live, not the other way around
- Be attentive to your signals of satiety: do not force yourself to eat out of habit or fear of wasting
- Sleep well: lack of sleep unbalances the hormones that influence appetite
- Learn to manage your stress other than by eating: move, contact a loved one, meditate, write in a journal, do yoga…
The information in this post is for informational purposes and will allow you to ask informed questions to your doctor.
They can in no way replace the advice of a doctor or a health professional.
Our team of experts and editors do their best to provide you with quality information. However, Bestbrighter cannot be held responsible if the content of an article proves to be incomplete or outdated. We remind you that it is strongly advised to visit a doctor if you feel a health problem.