Obesity: Beyond Being Overweight

July 27, 2021

Globally, in every 100,000 deaths, 60% of the mortalities are caused by obesity. Overweight and increased body mass index (BMI) define obesity under epidemiological studies. The disease is multifactorial, which has continued to ravage the globe since the early ages of 1980. Any age or gender is susceptible to the illness irrespective of their ethnic, economic, and geographical set-up.  Since then, the disease has recorded a steady surge over 50 years, and currently, it is categorized by World Health Organization as a global pandemic that needs immediate interventions. Obesity leads to other chronic diseases such as cancer, hypertension, and cardiovascular disorders, among other acute illnesses.  Therefore, this essay will focus on the types of obesity, its causal factors, treatments, and management.

Types of Obesity

There are three categories of obesity: class I obesity, class II, and class III obesity. Class I obesity is medically considered low-risk obesity. People with this kind of obesity have their body mass index (BMI) ranging between 30 and 34.9 kg/m2. However, class I obesity makes its patients more susceptible to diabetes. Class II obesity is moderate obesity in terms of risk. Clinically, people with BMI ranging from 35 to 39.9 kg/m2 are classified as class II obesity. Class II obesity leads to type 2 diabetes mellitus. Type 2 diabetes and obesity are complex metabolic disorders with specific comorbidities. Patients with class III obesity are highly susceptible to diabetes mellitus. Most recent research studies indicate that 80% of the general population with type 2 diabetes were overweight or obese. Class III obesity is high-risk obesity, with a BMI equivalent to or above 40 kg/m2.

Causes of Obesity

Genes influence the bodyweight of an individual. Some people have inherited diseases such as Cushing and thyroid diseases, which lead to obesity. The genetically caused diseases promote insulin resistance, thus increasing the BMI of a person. Genes also help in the compensation of energy intake in the human body. Therefore, some genes will fail to respond adequately to a person’s calorie intake, leading to obesity. The most known genetic receptor leading to obesity is the melanocortin 4 (MC4) receptor. Obesity caused by genetic factors comes due to the deficiency of the MC4 receptor in obese patients. Eating behaviors are also inherited, which forms part of genetically induced obesity.

Epigenetic factors like changes in the expression of microRNA, noncoding microRNAs, and DNA methylation also cause obesity. Epigenetic factors cause obesity due to changes and modifications in lifestyle behaviors such as eating and physical exercise. However, more research is still being done to assess and present more information on how epigenetic factors make individuals susceptible to the disease.

The environment also contributes mainly to obesity. For instance, people who come from urban centers have many built-in features limiting physical exercises. Currently, society wants things that make life easier. Buildings have elevators, and some environments also do not allow walking; instead, they promote driving. The environment also provides individuals with highly processed, sugar-laden inexpensive foods that cause obesity. Thus, the environment is the most prevalent causative agent to the diseases. Based on most research studies, nations with high rates of obesity, such as the US, Europe, and Mexico, have inexpensive sugar-laden foods readily accessible. The restaurants in these regions sell in large portions these sugar-laden foods.

Psychological factors such as emotions, mood, depression, and anxiety also cause obesity. For instance, stress causes appetite changes, which leads to obesity. Emotions, anxiety, and moods cause abdominal obesity otherwise known as truncal or central obesity. Psychological malfunctions such as impaired hippocampus functions lead to increased intake of food or binge eating, thus reducing obesity. Binge eating is psychological because some patients have a constant stimulation of hunger in their brains. After such a high intake of food, metabolism or digestion becomes a problem, hence obesity. Psychologically, most patients with obesity have most of their attention drawn to food. Some patients also eat in response to emotional stress. For example, an individual will consume sugar-laden food to relieve them from stress. As such, the person begins to gain weight leading to obesity. Stress undermines a person’s self-control, thus can’t restrict food intake. Therefore, the body finds it challenging to function correctly, slowing metabolism and increasing appetite. These sugar-laden foods make people abandon healthy foods and entirely shift their eating habits to consume high-calorie foods.

Treatment

Obesity can be treated and managed through various interventions. The treatment of obesity includes managing the disease, its associated implications, and applying an appropriate approach to countering its impacts. The interventions and treatments also depend on the causal agents and the acuteness or stage of the obesity. The interventions have their significant unique side effects. First, the genetic cause of obesity can be treated by inducing the fibroblast growth component. Fibroblast factor is a peptide hormone secreted by various body organs specifically to help regulate homeostasis. Obese individuals or mice that were administered with this protein receptor showed a robust decline in adiposity. The blood sugar of the patients and mice used during their experiments recorded declined blood sugar levels and triglycerides. The insulin secretion of the obese patient was also increased. However, fibroblast has a short life span recorded to be effective between a half and two hours from the time it was induced in the body. The low life span is due to increase glomerular filtration in a patient’s kidney.

Obesity can also be treated and managed through clinical, surgical interventions. Effective surgery is known as bariatric surgery. Clinical surgery is effective because it leads to a loss in weight, reduced mortality rates, and reduced chances of developing other chronic illnesses. Bariatric surgery includes gastric bypass, gastric banding, and sleeve gastrectomy. Globally, 50% of obese patients opt for sleeve gastrectomy bariatric surgery. Sleeve gastrectomy is done by inducing an elongated stomach tube looking like a sleeve, and the curvature stomach structure is removed. Most people prefer this kind of bariatric surgery because it has limited perioperative complication rates below 1%. Gastric bypass is the second worldwide preferred bariatric operation for obese patients. According to statistics, 40% of patients globally prefer gastric surgery. Gastric bypass entails creating a Roux limb, allowing food to travel after exiting the stomach pouch for pancreatic digestions. Most patients have currently abandoned gastric banding. The statistic provides that only 7% of patients opt for gastric banding operations. Banding operation is about inducing an external compressive structure or device placed at the upper part of the stomach. The banded structure can be deflated or inflated via a subcutaneous port. The inflation or deflation allows for an adjustment of gastric compression that limits food intake and enlargement by the stomach.

The behavioral modification also helps manage obesity. Behavioral modifications include nutritional monitoring, engagement in physical activity, and other cognitive-behavioral strategies. Behavioral strategies also entail counseling sessions for obese patients who have psychological issues. The various physical interventions have proved effective when it comes to losing weight in obese patients. Behavioral modification is low cost and calls for a change in lifestyle behaviors. Some research studies show that patients who were enrolled in physical activity lost weight of up to 5% compared to those who were enrolled in psychological counseling, who only lost up to 2%. Therefore, it provides that physical exercise is a more fruitful lifestyle behavior that can help reduce obesity. However, other lifestyle behaviors such as accountability, monitoring intake of food daily, and physical activities are highly effective. Dietary intervention requires consuming food that has low carbohydrates, low fats, and low sugar.

Conclusion

Obesity is a silent pandemic, which consumes lives and imposes a heavy burden on the affected families. The disease is caused by some agents that can be avoided, while some cannot be avoided. For instance, lifestyle habits such as binge eating and failing to exercise. However, other unavoidable causative agents include genes, psychological and epigenetic factors. Obesity is associated with the emergence of various chronic illnesses, including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancer, among others. It also exists in three categories, classes 1, 2, and 3. Obese patients are highly susceptible to diabetes. Additionally, the disease can be treated and managed through various behavioral interventions and clinical treatments. Bariatric surgery is an example of clinical treatment and management of obesity. A psychologist also offers psychological counseling to those with psychological problems. Most effectively, changes in lifestyle and behavior are the best of all interventions.

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