If you went around asking people what they think the cause of obesity is, they will most certainly tell you it is overeating. Even though they are right, they usually ignore other factors that lead to obesity. The notion that obesity is a disease is still not well accepted by the public. In this blog I will try to demonstrate how other factors can put a person at a high risk of being obese.
But before we dig into the all sciencey stuff we have to understand what obesity is.
What is obesity?
Obesity is excess adipose (fat) tissue. What is this, you ask? So a fat cell is an endocrine cell and adipose tissue is an endocrine organ. Significantly, excess adiposity or obesity causes increased levels of circulating fatty acids and inflammation. You can look at obesity as excessive body fat.
So how do I know if am obese?
Excess fat tissues can be determined by the use of a Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI is a mathematical calculation involving height and weight, irrespective of family history, gender, age or race. BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s body weight in kilograms by their height in meters squared (weight [kg] height [m] ^2) or by using the conversion with pounds (lbs) and inches (in) squared.
Other factors to known.
Insulin: we usually associate insulin with low blood sugar and diabetes. Most people know that the role of insulin is to regulate metabolic processes like glucose uptake and lipid synthesis. What they don’t know is that insulin and insulin signaling plays a big role in obesity. Insulin acts on two neurons in the brain.
- The POMC neurons which signals us to stop eating
- The AgRP neurons which signals us to eat
But what happens is
- Over nutrition leads to
- Hyperinsulinemia (too much insulin)
- Which leads to insulin resistance
- That causes inhibition of the POMC neurons that tell you to stop eating
- Leaving the AgRP neurons that do not tell to stop eating so you over eat
Leptin: Leptin is a hormone that is produced by the fat cells in the body. Its main role is regulating how many calories we eat and burn, as well as how much fat we carry on our bodies. The more body fat they carry, the more leptin they produce. What happens is that,
- Eating->Increased body fat->Increased leptin->Decreased appetite, increased energy expenditure
But in leptin resistance, leptin does not signal to the brain that we are full and so we keep eating.
- Overeating ->increases body fat-> increased leptin( too much this time)-> blockage of signaling to the brain -> obesity
And just a reminder, obesity is not joke. It puts individuals at risk for more than 30 chronic health conditions. They include: type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, gallstones, heart disease, fatty liver disease, sleep apnea, GERD, stress incontinence, heart failure, degenerative joint disease, birth defects, miscarriages, asthma and other respiratory conditions, and numerous cancers. Think twice before you eat that box of pizza for a second time in a week.