Is Obesity a Sickness?

When you say the word “obesity,” opinions and false ideas start flying. But being overweight isn’t caused by not having enough willpower or not caring about how you look. Obesity is a problem that affects about 42% of the people in the U.S.

What is being fat?

Obesity is a disease in which abnormal or too much fat builds up and hurts a person’s health. So, what causes it, and how do you deal with it? Leslie Heinberg, PhD, MA, is a psychologist and expert in weight management. She has some helpful advice for dealing with this complicated disease.

What we usually get wrong about being overweight

“The most common misunderstanding about obesity is that it’s just a “lifestyle” disorder, that people are fat because of what they eat or how much they work out. “Obesity is caused by a lot of different things and is a very complicated disease,” says Dr Heinberg.

Is being overweight a disease or a sickness?

In 2013, the American Medical Association (AMA) made it official that obesity is a long-term disease. The AMA also says that it is a disease state with many changes in function that need a variety of ways to treat and prevent.

Signs of being overweight

Even though obesity is thought of as a disease, there aren’t any real signs of it.

“Obesity is “silent” in the same way that high blood pressure is. “There are no clear signs of it,” says Dr Heinberg. “The body mass index (BMI), which is a ratio of height and weight, is used to measure obesity, but it is a pretty blunt tool. What’s more important is the ratio of fat mass to lean muscle mass and where people carry their weight (for example, abdominal obesity).

What makes people fat?

The following things can lead to being overweight.

An imbalance between what you eat and what you do

You can gain weight if you eat a lot of calories but don’t burn more through physical activity. You should try to watch how much you eat and get moving if you don’t already.

Your environment

If you can’t get fresh food, it can be harder to choose healthy foods. It’s also hard if you live in a place with no nice parks, sidewalks, or cheap ways to get fit. And you might not believe it, but ads for junk food could even affect what you eat.

Your genes

Yes, they can change how much weight you gain. They can also make you more likely to be overweight. Scientists have found that obesity can be caused by genes. This is the case with Prader-Willi syndrome, which is a common genetic disorder that causes kids to be so fast that it threatens their lives. Some gene changes may also lead to obesity by making you feel hungrier, which makes you eat more.

Other health problems

Obesity can be caused by hormonal problems like an underactive thyroid, Cushing’s syndrome, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Some medicines can also make it happen. Some of these are corticosteroids, antidepressants, and medicines for seizures.

“More than 100 risk factors or possible causes of obesity have been found. Some have to do with our environment, like agricultural policies or how our neighbourhoods are built. Recently, there has been a lot of interest in how our gut microbial community affects our metabolism and how gut hormones play a role in that.

There are ways to treat obesity.

Dr Heinberg says that there are different ways to treat obesity. Lifestyle interventions that focus on changing a person’s diet and level of physical activity and give them the tools and skills they need to change their behaviour can help improve their chances of success. Also helpful are medical interventions.

“There are now a number of prescription drugs that can help people lose weight, and diets that are overseen by doctors can also be helpful. Dr Heinberg says that endoscopic and bariatric surgeries can help people lose the most weight, but they are only used for people who are very overweight or who have serious health problems.

These health problems are more likely to happen if you are overweight.

Since obesity is a disease with many causes, your doctor will also check you for other health problems if you have them. Dr Heinberg says that obesity has been linked to more than 220 health problems, such as:

Type 2 diabetes

If you are overweight, you may be more likely to get Type 2 diabetes. Obesity also makes diabetes get worse much more quickly.

Cardiovascular disease

When your body fat goes up, it can make you more likely to get heart failure, coronary artery disease, atrial fibrillation, or even die from a heart attack.

Liver sickness

Obesity has been linked to fatty liver disease and steatohepatitis that don’t come from drinking. Fat can build up in your liver if you are overweight, have high blood sugar, are resistant to insulin, and have a lot of triglycerides and other fats in your blood. This buildup can also cause your liver to become inflamed or scarred.

Obstructive sleep apnea

People don’t only get sleep apnea because they are overweight, but being overweight can make it hard to breathe while sleeping. Your upper airway can be blocked by fat in your neck. And having too much fat around your middle can make it hard for your lungs to work right or make it more likely that your lungs will collapse. And as your BMI goes up, your risk of obstructive sleep apnea goes up as well.

There are a few kinds of cancer

The National Cancer Institute says there is evidence that having more body fat can make you more likely to get some types of cancer. Endometrial, liver, kidney, breast, ovarian, and thyroid cancers are some of these.

Why you should remember that obesity is a long-term illness

Dr Heinberg says, “People think that once they’ve lost weight, they’re ‘done’ or that their obesity is ‘cured.'” “Unfortunately, keeping the weight off is a much harder challenge than losing it. Obesity tends to come back and can get worse over time, just like many other long-term diseases. Chronic diseases like this one are best treated with plans that last for a long time.”

How we can be better advocates for ourselves or people we care about who are overweight.

Dr Heinberg says that finding doctors who know that obesity is a disease is one of the best things we can do. “Find providers who understand that it’s not a matter of willpower and take this condition seriously. No one should feel judged by their weight in health care.

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