Obesity – A Growing Epidemic

We are all aware of the growing obese epidemic that is presently a serious health problem in many parts of the world. We hear it on the news and we see it all around us in our own lives and of those we know. In the United States alone the problem is growing at an overwhelming rate.

True genetics contribute to obesity, however, the rate at which this problem is increasing shows that environmental factors and how we chooses to live our lives play a significant role. Obesity leads to serious health risks. Serious health risks and conditions reduce your chances of reaching your full potential in life.

Here are some obesity statistics. According to the World Health organization, global obesity affects more than 1 billion adults. Childhood obesity is also a serious concern. There is an estimated 22 million children under the age of five expected to be overweight worldwide. According to the US Surgeon General, in the USA the number of overweight children has doubled and the number of overweight adolescents has tripled since 1980. Type 2 diabetes, a condition limited to older adults for most of the 20th century, now affects obese children even before they hit puberty.

In goal setting, your health condition must become a priority. In making plans for the future, your health must be seen as most important. If you have children, you want to be healthy to watch them grow and share in their lives. You want to be able to pass on healthy principles to them to allow them a greater chance of becoming healthy adults. Are you struggling with obesity? Is there someone you know struggling? Use this information to get the knowledge you need to help you or someone you know in making a change in their lives.

Obesity and overweight leads to problems such as:

  • high blood pressure
  • dangerously high cholesterol and triglyceride level
  • insulin resistance and conditions associated with insulin resistance such as type 2 diabetes
  • cardiovascular disease
  • certain types of cancers
  • gallbladder disease
  • chronic musculoskeletal problems
  • skin problems
  • respiratory difficulties
  • infertility
  • osteoarthritis, a major cause of disability in adults.
  • self-esteem issues
  • loss of energy and drive to be able to follow through on your goals and dreams
  • Who is Obese?

    Why are some people obese while others are not? Unless there is a hormonal problem, the answer is obvious. Those who are obese take in more calories than they expend. It’s that simple. People who are not obese or overweight are those who expend more calories than they take in.

    There are many reasons why people eat more than others who have equal access to food.

  • The way they were raised. Many families prepare high-calorie, fried, decadent foods. When you are raised on this kind of food you develop a taste bud for that decadent taste.
  • Culture. Many cultures believe in eating three meals per day whether or not you are hungry. For many cultures, food is the focus of most social gatherings. We meet each other for lunch or dinner.
  • Some people have a stronger cephalic-phase response when it anticipates food. This means the brain informs the stomach to prepare for food when it sees or smells it. This can trigger serious cravings. After the anticipation, when the person sits down to eat, he/she consumes more.
  • People vary with respect to how much caloric energy they consume daily. The biggest difference is how much exercise one receives or one’s metabolic rate. One’s metabolic rate is the speed at which the body burns up calories.
  • The foods we eat daily contribute to our well-being. Food should be used only to provide us with the nutrients we need to sustain our health. We eat to live not the other way around. If obesity or overweight has become a problem for you, make it your goal to be more aware of your food consumption.

    A decision to become healthy can be the best decision you can make. No matter how much wealth one has, it cannot be enjoyed with ill health. No matter how much time spent working on building a prosperous future, it can all be cut short at a moment’s notice with ill health. Make the decision to make your health a priority. Remember, part of achieving your goals is to secure good health so you can enjoy the fruits of your labor.

    Obesity, a Food Addiction

    Studies show that the enjoyment derived from eating may come from a surge of dopamine, a chemical in the brain associated with feelings of pleasure. In two recent studies, researchers demonstrated that simply smelling or seeing food causes dopamine levels to rise even for people who are not overweight or obese and that obese people may be more susceptible. This increase in dopamine levels may be a comparable experience to what addicts feel when they crave drugs.

    The big business of food enables this addiction to food. Unlike drugs that are illegal, food can be offered up with unrestrained quantities, uncontrollable fat content, and unrestricted tempting appeal. Very few food businesses are preparing foods that cater to healthy living and weight control. Instead many businesses are capitalizing on obesity by creating new product lines, larger clothing, or larger everything for that matter. This further enables the obesity and overweight epidemic.

    Addiction to food can be caused for different reasons. A biological addiction to carbohydrates, which results in excessive production of the hormone insulin and/or a loss of self-control and self-discipline. Studies have shown that many people who are overweight suffer from a dysfunctional biological insulin imbalance. This leaves the individual with an insatiable desire for carbohydrates and the pounds just keep adding up.

    How do you know if you are a carbohydrate addict?

    If you answer yes to the following you may be addicted to carbohydrates and should contact your physician or nutritionist to discuss this.

  • Do you diet quite often but regain the weight you lost and maybe a few extra pounds more?
  • Do you still feel unsatisfied after you finished your meal?
  • Do you have a strong desire for carbohydrate-rich foods such as breads, pasta, ice-cream, chocolate, or cookies.
  • Do you feel sluggish or tired after eating a large meal?

    Another reason for obesity is loss of self-control. When one loses self-control and eats without regard for the quality of the food they eat, without regard for the harm it can cause to the body, it triggers the start of an abusive relationship with food. After a while, that person becomes psychologically and emotionally dependent on food. Even with all the education and knowledge available about healthy eating, the individual continues their destructive behavior.

    We as a society must become more aware of this serious potential addiction that lay lurking before us at every corner. Food must be seen for what it is. We are what we eat and we eat to live, not the other way around. If you or a loved one suffers with a food addiction, take this opportunity to realize and accept that you have a problem. Speak to your doctor and find the necessary intervention.

    Help for Obesity

    We have learned that the neurotransmitter dopamine has the ability to trigger reactions that derive pleasure, reactions we call cravings or urges. After a while, these powerful cravings that are associated with pleasure leaves one addicted to that form of pleasure. This dependency on food to feel good leaves one with low self-esteem and a powerless feeling. In order to end this addiction with food and overcome obesity, the individual has to accept their dependency on food and seek help.

    Because eating is something that is a necessary part of life, breaking a food addiction needs to be carefully done. The first step is changing the way you think about food. This requires some counseling as in many cases there are underlying psychological problems that food is used to mask. This time with a professional must be used to resolve any past issues and rebuild self-confidence and self-esteem.

    The next step is to get a complete physical. Know you body’s condition. This knowledge brings awareness and more urgency to the problem. Then engage in some form of cardiovascular activity. Find a trainer or someone who can coach your workout routine.

    The final step in breaking the food addiction is to change the way you eat. This may require a nutritionist. Learn to prepare healthy, nutritional foods. Education is knowledge and knowledge is empowerment to kick this deadly disease.

    There are many resources available for help with food addiction and overeating. Overeaters Anonymous (OA) offers a program of recovery from compulsive overeating using the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of OA. If you don’t know where to begin, start by contacting your family physician or a life coach.