There is no one single cause of obesity. As per the NHS UK website obesity is generally caused by eating too much and moving too little. If you consume high amounts of energy, particularly fat and sugars, but don’t burn off the energy through exercise and physical activity, much of the surplus energy will be stored by the body as fat. NHS (1) UK has summarized the drivers of obesity very well and I have used their extracts for this article.
The energy value of food is measured in units called calories. The average physically active man needs about 2,500 calories a day to maintain a healthy weight, and the average physically active woman needs about 2,000 calories a day. This amount of calories may sound high, but it can be easy to reach if you eat certain types of food. For example, eating a large takeaway hamburger, fries and a milkshake can total 1,500 calories – and that’s just one meal. If a person isn’t physically active, lots of the calories consumed end up being stored in the body as fat.
Obesity doesn’t happen overnight. It develops gradually over time, as a result of poor diet and lifestyle choices, such as:
• eating large amounts of processed or fast food – that’s high in fat and sugar
• drinking too much alcohol or sugary drinks including soft drinks and fruit juice
• eating out a lot – you may be tempted to also have a starter or dessert in a restaurant, and the food can be higher in fat and sugar
• eating larger portions than you need – you may be encouraged to eat too much if your friends or relatives are also eating large portions
• comfort eating – if you have low self-esteem or feel depressed, you may eat to make yourself feel better
Unhealthy eating habits tend to run in families. You may learn bad eating habits from your parents when you’re young and continue them into adulthood.
Lack of physical activity
Lack of physical activity is another important factor related to obesity. Many people have jobs that involve sitting at a desk for most of the day. They also rely on their cars, rather than walking or cycling. For relaxation, people tend to watch TV, browse the internet or play computer games, and rarely take regular exercise. If you’re not active enough, you don’t use the energy provided by the food you eat, and the extra energy you consume is stored by the body as fat.
Some people claim there’s no point trying to lose weight because “it runs in my family” or “it’s in my genes”. While there are some rare genetic conditions that can cause obesity, there’s no reason why most people can’t lose weight. Although certain genetic traits inherited from your parents make losing weight more difficult, it definitely doesn’t make it impossible. In many cases, obesity is more to do with environmental factors, such as poor eating habits learned during childhood.
Underlying medical conditions may contribute to weight gain such as hormonal imbalance due to hypothyroidism or Cushing’s syndrome. However, if conditions such as these are properly diagnosed and treated, they should pose less of a barrier to weight loss. Certain medicines, including some corticosteroids, medications for epilepsy and diabetes, and some medications used to treat mental illness – including antidepressants and medicines for schizophrenia – can contribute to weight gain. Weight gain can sometimes be a side effect of stopping smoking.
HEALTH SUPPLEMENTS FOR OBESITY
Our stores, supermarkets, pharmacies, the web and TV are stormed with supplements specifically designed for weight loss. They are usually branded as “natural” or “herbal” or “organic” but who certified this labeling? While the use of health supplements is generally regarded as safe, but one should do detailed research and talk to a health specialist before starting to use any such supplement.
Always ask for additional literature not only of the company making or selling the supplement but independent literature issued by research organizations, medical societies, journals, certified nutritionists, health coaches or known herbalists. Make sure you are convinced yourself before you start buying or using any such product. Ask questions as to who has certified it to be organically cultivated or natural. Verify sources. The research should not only cover the generic ingredients of the product, but also the cultivation and processing methods of the supplement otherwise the benefits may be diluted or even toxic.
Be pragmatic and subtract the tall claims or the excitement sellers try to bring into you in order to persuade you into buying right away.
Understand the rationale for your obesity or weight gain first. You are the best judge of your body and your mind tells you the rest. Never feel shy to speak to your medical doctor or a health specialist. Talk about your condition or advice on what and how to try. But also remember the fact that in most cases supplements alone cannot reduce your weight unless you balance your lifestyle i.e. eating habits and exercise. A combination of supplements along with proper diet and exercise is the best way to safely combat obesity.