Why Lose Weight?
Carlos A. Barba, M.D. in Brownsville & Harlingen, TX
What Defines Being Obese?
Obesity used to be defined as someone who was twice their ideal body weight. However, that became a very vague statistic and not accurate for each individual. The standard for measuring weight now is BMI, or body mass index. This measure the “volume” of your body, by using a formula based on your height and weight. Anything less than a BMI of 25 is considered normal, 25-30 is considered overweight, anything over 30 is considered obese and anything over 40 is considered morbidly obese.
Causes of Obesity
There’s a misconception that weight is controlled only by diet or exercise, but there are so many factors that go into your weight.
In America, high-fat and high-sugar diets are prevalent due to cost, convenience and accessibility. Physical activity obviously has an impact on obesity as well. Human bodies are not made to sit down for 8 hours day, so unless your job is physically demanding, you may not getting enough exercise. It is recommended that you get at least 30 minutes of physical activity with increased heart rate every day. Make sure you also check side effects of medications that you’re currently taking to see if weight gain is on the list. These factors are the easiest to control yourself.
Unfortunately, genetic causes of obesity are hard to control, and for those of you at risk for obesity due to genetic factors, you will need to work a little harder at controlling your weight. There isn’t just one obesity gene that floats around in your DNA makeup, but many genetic factors at a granular level can affect your weight, such as metabolism, appetite, and the ability to feel full. Weight gain can also be a side effect of other conditions such as hypothyroidism.
Some people overeat due to stress, boredom, anger or sadness. Others may also have an eating disorder like binge eating that can really mess with weight control. Addictive personalities can definitely contribute to obesity and seeking psychological help can assist in your weight control. It’s not just eating either. Alcohol can slow your body’s metabolism and increase weight due to the amount of calories consumed.
Getting Rid of Obesity
There are a multitude of reasons to get rid of obesity, or to prevent it from happening.
Obesity is a Risk Factor
Obesity is a risk factor for many other conditions, as in having obesity can lead to some of the following:
Dangerous and life threatening conditions
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Sleep apnea
- Cancer (mainly of digestive and urinary organs such as the stomach, liver, colon, kidney and gallbladder)
Other conditions that obesity can lead to
- Degenerative arthritis
Obesity Impacts Every-Day Life
Being obese can negatively affect your day-to-day life in a serious way. Many patients who speak about losing massive amounts of weight talk about how much it has changed their lives for the better in some of these areas:
- Sitting in a plane, car or bus
- Getting proper sleep each night
- Using a seat belt
- Maintaining proper hygiene
- Taking care of children or pets
- Mood and attitude
- Doing physically demanding activities like hiking, swimming, canoeing, etc.
- Riding on rides at amusement parks
Ultimately, obesity can be fatal
Most likely, your doctor will discuss the possibility of lifestyle changes or medication to control weight. However, in cases of morbid obesity or people who are obese and have a hard time losing weight, bariatric surgery may be the answer.