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Obesity has been medically defined as a condition whereby there is an excess accumulation of body fat that is likely to result into health complications, heart diseases, difficulty in breathing, insomnia, diabetes among others, and in turn reduce an individual’s life expectancy. The excess of accumulation of fat in the body in most cases causes an individual to gain excessive body weight and to be extremely big in size. Assessment of obesity is mainly done using what is referred to as Body Mass Index, a measurement that measures an individual’s body weight in relation to the height. A BMI measure of over 30kg/m2 ranks one as being obese. As the prevalence of obesity continues to be on the rise in many parts of the world, medical practitioners, individuals and the society as a whole have continued to blame the occurrence of this disease to a number of factors that include, poor eating habits, lack of exercises, genetics as well as stress and depression thus developing an obesity blame culture. This paper looks at this rising blame culture with emphasis being on genetics, poor eating habits, stress and depression as being the major factors that have been regarded by the society as being the major causes of the disorder.
The Blame Culture
Obesity has been declared as being one of the most serious diseases that is causing most deaths in many parts of the world today. Prevalence has especially been reported in children and adults. These finding has rendered the disease as being a serious public health issue in the 21st century (Haslam, 2005). As the more and more people become obese, the blame culture in the continued rise of obesity cases all over the world is an area that has received much concern from medical practitioners, nutritionists as well as researchers with the aim of finding out the real causes of obesity. It is through the identification of these real cause that real and effective solutions , curative as well as preventive measures will be put in place to help deal with the disorder (Caballero, 2007). Three main factors have been regarded as being some of the factors that cause an individual to be obese. These include genetics, stress and depression as well as poor eating habits.
Though genetics has been said to be a causer of obesity in individuals, research has proved that rather than it being a cause, it increases the chances of obesity occurrence in various ways. One such way is through the fact that the various body metabolic and digestive processes that include fat storage, conversion of fat into energy, blood glucose metabolism as well as hormone production are controlled by genes. Individuals or members of a particular family may therefore possess genes whose level of metabolism is very slow and that promote a very high fat accumulation rate thus resulting into excessive fat accumulation in the body, a condition likely to result into obesity. On the other hand, if the genes are those of high metabolic rates, then that means that excessive fat is shed off from the body very easily and fast thus reducing the occurrence of obesity or excessive weight gains in individuals with that particular gene. Individuals born with slow metabolisms are therefore more likely to suffer from obesity while those with fast metabolism are less likely to suffer from it as their body is able to easily digest the excess calories and cholesterols and to shed them away thus very little is stored as excessive fat (Caballero, 2007).
In the same way that the height of an individual is determined by his or her genes, so is weight. This means that though a person taking in a lot of calories and living a sedentary lifestyle with no exercise at all is likely to increase in weight, the effect of these lifestyles will differ in different kinds of people such that some are more likely to be more severely or highly affected than others. This is because such individuals possess genes that allow for easy disposal of excessive fat from the body.
The genes responsible for controlling the amount of food that one eats as well as the rate of metabolism help in creating body weight stability in such a way that they create a biological force that controls the increase or decreases of weight. If there is an increase in weight, the genes act to decrease hunger while when the weight decreases, the genes enhance a drive for an individual to feel hungry and in turn eat more until a standard weight is obtained in relation to the initial weight. Hunger in this case increases with the decrease in weight hence when an individual suffering from obesity works towards reducing the excess body weight through conscious and strenuous efforts, then the body retaliates by increasing the feeling of hunger and by reducing the level of energy being lost (Stein, 2006).
A number of research studies conducted to study the relationship between obesity and genetics or heredity have conclusively brought out various findings connecting these two concepts. According to some of the researches, twins whose parents are naturally obese have been found to be become obese in their later years even in instances where each of the twin has been brought up in an environment that is different from the other. Another finding is that a person’s inherited genes are the greatest determinant of ones weight and size. Other findings have regarded the Db gene as being responsible for the disruption of an individual’s feeling of satiety hence causing one to over eat and to gain excessive weight. The Ob gene has on the other hand been said to allow for the reduction of metabolic rates that enables the body to use up stored fat for survival. Other body chemicals that have been found to play a key genetic role in the sustenance of obesity include GLP-1 and Leptin proteins (Wagner, 2009).
Poor Eating Habits
In most cases poor eating habits have been blamed for the occurrence of obesity among many individuals. One common habit hat is regarded as being poor is over consumption/ over eating where by an individual takes too much food or a particular kind of food. Consuming too much calories has been found to be a root cause of obesity. This could be consumed in form of sweets, cakes, soft drinks, chocolates as well as other sugary foods that have high caloric values than the body requires.
According to a research done by one doctor, Dr. M. Nestle, the United States agribusiness’s level of production for calories was currently found to be 3,800 calories daily for every American. This according to him is 500 calories in excess of what they used to produce thirty years ago (Marantz, Bird & Alderman, 2007). The increase in the growth of the level of consumption for soft drinks as well as that of operating fast food stores is a clear sign of just how much people are consuming a lot of junk foods with high caloric content (Bleich et al. 2008).
The type of food that an individual consumes also plays a great part in causing obesity. If for instance one consumes too many foods containing refined sugars or with high fat value, then that person is at risk of suffering from obesity. Research findings have indicated that excessive intake of refined carbohydrates and fats high in cholesterol value, Trans fats, with very little or no fiber highly affects the body’s energy metabolism and in turn results to an accumulation of stored fat in the body. An increase of calorie intake with little or no exercise results into a situation whereby, the level of calorie intake is higher than that of calorie expenditure or burn out. The excessive calories are then stored as fat in the body thus causing an excessive increase in body weight and fat and the occurrence of obesity (Woodhouse, 2008).
Stress and Depression
Stress and depression as well as other emotional reactions such as anger, sadness and loneliness have been found to be a major cause of obesity. Stress has by itself been found to be a great contributor to over eating. In today’s society, individuals are living under tight and hectic schedules as well as stressful lifestyles with very little or no relaxation. This kind of life has exposed them to a lot of stress that they can only get rid off by eating foods they regard as comforting or relaxing. Stress is likely to result into a feeling of hunger even in instances when one is not hungry, as a result of this feeling; one is likely to eat more than is necessary. The sudden and intense feeling of hunger at all times is also likely to force one to get already made food from a fast food joint hence one ends up consuming junk foods filled higher levels of fat or cholesterol, salt and sugars than is nutritionally recommended. According to studies conducted within the last twenty years, stress has been found to be on the increase and so has the incidence and prevalence of obesity (Willett, 2001).
Another way through which stress can cause obesity is through its likelihood to result into insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a biological condition whereby there is an insulin and glucose imbalance in blood. This condition is likely to result into a situation whereby the body has too much glucose that cannot be converted into energy due to the absence of insulin and which is therefore stored as excess body fat leading to an excessive gain in weight that later results into obesity. Stress increases cortisol levels in the body. This increase further results into an increase in the level of blood glucose as more of it is released by the liver as a way of preventing attacks from the various predators that include stress and body strain. As the level of blood glucose increases, more insulin is produced an action that negatively affects the functioning of insulin in the regulation of glucose in such a way that it leads to insulin resistance due to the increase in the level of noradrenalin (a hormone that is produced in response to stress). Cortisol is also a chemical that is produced in response to stress. This chemical among other stress response hormones have been found to cause obesity in women through its tendency to increase the level of glucose as well as accumulated body fats especially in the lower abdomen (Kushner, 2007). Too much insulin levels in the body results into an accumulation of glucose which is stored as body fat in the tissues. In individuals who eat more when under stress, stress causes them to eat more junk foods filled with high cholesterol and refined sugar levels. This is stored as body fat. In addition to this, the body secretes more insulin that leads to an increase in the level of blood glucose thus resulting into the accumulation of even more fat (Tukker, Visscher & Picavet 2008).
The above mentioned factors that include stress, eating habits and genetics can be seen as those that have an influence on the rising levels of obesity in the world today. Though some of these factors like for example, genetics do not directly cause obesity, they highly contribute to its occurrence. The growing blame culture is therefore one that can be seen as being true and that should therefore be used to find solutions or ways to help reduce the prevalence as well as the incidence of obesity. It is in identifying the various causes and influencers of obesity that further research is done and solutions to the problem obtained.
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