Probably I don’t need to tell you that obesity is the #1 health threat in the 21st century.
And especially in the USA.
There are plenty of reasons for that: sedentary job, lack of physical activity, stress, etc.
So, let’s see what are the causes of obesity, how to prevent and beat obesity.
But, first things first.
What are the consequences of obesity for your body?
An extreme increase in weight can cause cardiovascular problems (the most common is a heart attack), stroke, diabetes type 2, cancer, reproductive problems, and a shorter lifespan.
How to determine whether a person is obese or not?
The most common method is the BMI (body mass index).
BMI is calculated based on your weight and height.
I wrote about the BMI index earlier, so you can read more about it HERE.
You can calculate your body mass index using this calculator:
You can see in which group you belong according to your calculated values:
|BMI Weight status|
|35.0 and higher||Morbid obesity|
Note: BMI is useful, but to make a detailed analysis you need other methods such as Hydrostatic Weighing, Anthropometric, Body-Fat Caliper, Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis.
5 most common causes of obesity:
One of the most common causes of obesity is obsessive overeating.
People with this disorder have frequent episodes of overeating.
It’s not triggered by hunger, people simply eat uncontrollably.
Why do people overeat obsessively?
Some people feel comfort after eating a certain food, so overeating happens as a consequence of depression.
Excessive eating happens after long-term diets and starving yourself, too.
2. Refined fat
Nowadays, food is very high in bad fat, carbs, and additives.
The intake of that kind of food, mainly greasy and sweet leads to turning energy into fat tissue.
Accumulated fat cells cause inflammatory processes that lead to retaining water, damaging blood vessels, and insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance is one of the main reasons for many endocrinological disorders that obese people deal with.
3. Decreased physical activity
Physical inactivity leads to decreasing your muscle mass.
Muscles are one of the biggest energy consumers, hence decreasing them causes turning food into fat.
Sitting more than 35 hours per week multiplies the risk of obesity, hypertension etc.
On the other hand, walking 30 minutes every day or doing some other physical activity decreases the risk of those diseases.
4. The pleasure center of the brain
The center of the brain that regulates the intake of food suffers from inflammation and it stops regulating the intake of food if you intake a lot of sugar, starch, and fat every day.
That affects the pleasure center which is activated by those ingredients and then you indulge in food because it makes you satisfied.
Various other factors affect brain activity badly and are connected to obesity.
That includes not sleeping enough, sitting in front of a screen, and stress.
Being stressed activates the excretion of certain hormones which can cause accumulating fat on the belly.
People who get stressed usually eat irregularly, whenever they can and mostly junk food.
More than 40 genes are connected to obesity which means some people have bigger chances of becoming obese.
But, that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it.
Genetics is not crucial.
If you have a good diet and you exercise regularly you can avoid getting obese even though someone in your family is.
Well, we saw the causes of obesity, and now let’s see the ways to prevent or beat obesity.
Also, hypothyroidism is a very common reason for obesity.
You can read how to lose weight when you have hypothyroidism here.
Ways to beat and prevent obesity:
1. A proper diet
Same old, same old.
A well-balanced diet is absolutely essential when it comes to weight loss.
The most important things regarding diet:
You need to eat all meals: breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner.
You should have at least 3-4 hours between your main meals.
Eat your meals slowly.
Sweets, sodas, alcohol, unhealthy snacks, junk foods are absolutely forbidden.
A good diet means to intake whole grain cereals, fruits, vegetables, nuts, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, water.
Also, as we age, we need to start following some rules.
When you turn 40 your metabolism slows down so you need to reduce the intake of food for at least 10%.
Foods you must avoid when you are trying to lose weight:
Chips, fat, butter, flakes, instant mashed potatoes, bakery products are very, very unhealthy.
Snacks are loaded with fats, additives, and sugars, they contain small amounts of proteins and no fibers at all.
French fries have a lot of calories and 99% are fats and sugars.
Pasta and bread
Pasta and bread have a high glycemic index and a bunch of calories responsible for obesity.
Hot dogs, delicatessen, sausages are full of salt, fats, nitrites, nitrates and harmful smoke substances which give delicatessen their color, smell and taste.
This type of cheese contains up to 50% of fat.
Sodas have absolutely no benefits for your body – it is just sugar, sugar and sugar.
Beer (and alcohol in general)
Beer is especially high in calories and men know why because belly fat is often caused by excessive drinking.
Industrial ice creams are loaded with calories, sugars, fats, and additives, too.
Fake healthy foods
There are plenty of foods that are labeled ‘healthy’ but they are actually very unhealthy.
The most common examples are fruit yogurt and fruit juices from the supermarket which are loaded with sugars and additives.
Also different kinds of protein bars, granola bars are actually loaded with sugar, too.
Avoid these ‘fake healthy foods‘.
For starters, stop eating after 7 pm.
If you are really hungry before sleeping drink 2 glasses of water or eat an apple.
Don’t eat in front of the TV or laptop.
Read how to stop overeating here.
2. Increase your physical activity
This is also as important as your diet.
When you eat healthily you need to be physically active, too.
So, try: running, swimming, cycling, walking.
If you are already obese start slowly.
As you get in better shape increase the activities.
You can also find a personal trainer to guide you through your weight loss process.
Start walking and then after a few days start jogging.
Then include something like swimming or cycling.
If you decide to go to the gym you can start a more intensive program as high-intensity interval training and CrossFit.
The important thing is to start exercising and getting your body used to physical activity that will bring you benefits in the long-run.
The oldies’ exercise for weight loss 🙂
Start walking to work if possible.
Walk to the supermarket too.
Take the stairs rather than the elevator.
Walking 30 minutes in the morning has many benefits: it can reduce your hypertension, improve your mood and speed up your metabolism.
After walking the next step is running.
Running is probably the best exercise in the world.
The fact that it’s good for your health, fitness, looks, and it helps you lose weight is what makes running the best choice for many of us.
You can read everything you need to know about running for weight loss here.
Another great cardio exercise.
Cycling is a cardio exercise and it’s one of the healthiest ways to lose weight.
You spend time outside breathing fresh air and that positively affects your heart and your health in general.
Cycling is a good way to control or reduce weight since it boosts your metabolism, builds muscles, and burns body fat.
To get good results you need to cycle almost every day, so try going to work by bike, or for example, cycle after work, or school.
Read more about cycling for weight loss.
Workouts at the gym
At the gym, you can also mix cardio and strength exercises. (1)
As I said, after you get in shape you can try these workout programs like HIIT or CrossFit.
The best thing to do is to find a personal trainer which will lead you through the whole process.
So, what’s the bottom line?
As you can notice, these are some general facts that I mentioned.
When it comes to weight loss, the most important things are a healthy diet and physical activity.
It’s necessary to repeat this as much as possible.
However, sometimes the cause of obesity can be some medical problem which means you need to consult your doctor for advice.