The Aetiology of Obesity
The factors that are involved in promoting obesity are:
- The frequency of meals
- Sedentary habits
- Hormonal imbalance
- Familial factors
- The psychology of over-eating
- Socio-economic status
- Smoking and drinking.
The frequency of meals
People who miss their meals have a greater tendency to eat more after a missed meal. People who miss their breakfasts tend to eat more at lunchtime; this causes blood glucose and serum cholesterol to rise to high levels. They may also eat more high-fat, high-calorie snacks. This pattern of eating may in the long-term lead to an impaired tolerance of glucose. Eating frequently also increases the likelihood that more calories will be eaten. Therefore, people eating, say, seven to eight times in twenty-four hours have a greater tendency to put on weight, owing to the increase in their average calorie intakes. Because the total calorie intake determines the weight change three meals and two snacks between them are usually advised, resulting in a lower calorie intake to control the weight gain.
Obesity is more common among people who have sedentary habits. Children who take less interest in physical exercise and are frightened of playground activity tend to put on weight quickly because their bodies are unable to burn all the calories they consume; it has also been observed that the age of an individual in directly affects the weight gain. With the approach of middle age, physical activities tend to be reduced for one reason or another. People are usually unable to keep themselves as active as when they were young yet develop habits to keep their consumption of food the same. Such people are likely to gain weight without realizing it.
Hormones play an important part in controlling the factors affecting obesity, such as the glucose and cholesterol levels in the blood. Various hormones are produced by the thyroid, pituitary, and suprarenal glands, which help facilitate the proper functioning of the whole metabolism. Insulin play a contributory role in promoting obesity. The dysfunctioning of any of the glands can cause obesity because this will lead to hormonal imbalance. For example, if for any reason the ovaries or uterus are removed, a woman is likely to gain more weight because of hormonal imbalance. In some physiological conditions, for example, there may be natural changes in hormonal balance during pregnancy the balance is altered, and additional far stores are laid clown in the body in preparation for and to meet the energy costs of lactation. However, if a woman bottle-feeds her baby and these stores are not used, she may increase her susceptibility to obesity.
Although obesity seems to run in families, there is considerable debate about whether this is because of genetic factors or family environment. Heredity can play an important role in obesity, some people having an inherited tendency to deposit fat.
However, young children often adopt the meal patterns of their parents, in addition, the eating habits of an individual can be copied by others and contribute towards obesity. The children of a family that uses a lot of clarified butter, butter, and food rich in carbohydrates run a greater risk of becoming obese than the children of a family that restricts its consumption of butter and fats.
The Psychology of Over-Eating
Over-eating is the most important factor in obesity. People eat for many reasons - not just to meet nutritional requirements. They may eat to be sociable or to please others. Many people find that eating relieves tension, stress, and unhappiness. In such cases over-eating may be part of their adjustment to unsatisfactory emotional environments. Food restrictions in these cases may cause more mental disturbance. Although the large appetites of some people are due to factors affecting the satiety mechanism, which is controlled from the centres at the base of the brain. Some obese people seem to have lost touch altogether with the normal signals of hunger and satiety. In these cases, certain behavioral techniques may help them to limit their food intake:
- Avoiding foods that do not require preparation in the house
- Using smaller plates
- Chewing each mouthful many times
Putting less food before an obese person helps to remove the temptation to eat more.
People in high socio-economic groups are more prone to obesity because high protein, high-fat and high-carbohydrate foods are seen by them as status symbols. The frequent serving of meals is also associated with the higher socio-economic status another reason why obesity is found more in such groups than in the middle-class or economically poor classes. The laying out of large, calorie-rich meals presents the obese with temptation! In addition, people in higher socio-economic groups are unlikely to be involved in physically demanding work and more likely to use motor transport.
Smoking and Drinking
Smoking stimulates the metabolism and reduces the appetite, so that it is commonly observed that people gain weight when they give up smoking. When their appetite returns and they no longer have a cigarette to hand, they may replace it with food or may use catting to help them cope with the stresses they previously relieved through smoking. However, smoking is a far greater risk to health than being overweight and should never be advocated as a useful aid to losing weight. Smokers who wish to give up the habit should be reassured that weight gain is not inevitable and provided with advice on sensible cating and coping with stress. Drinking alcohol, while it does increase metabolic rate, has two important disadvantages with regard to weight control. First it provides extra calories, and second it undermines sell-control, increasing the temptation to overeat.