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No matter how old a person is, if they are at an ideal weight they will be healthier and feel better. So what is it that causes obesity and what can people do to lose weight? Unfortunately there is not one simple answer to these questions about obesity. There are many causes of obesity and it has become an epidemic in the UK. That is why it is so difficult for healthcare professionals to manage the problem. The following factors all play a part in causing obesity:
In the past 20 years portion sizes have increased dramatically. Particularly in fast food restaurants where a portion that used to be considered a large is now a small and people are always encouraged to go one size larger. This is also the case in restaurants and supermarkets where there are many buy one get one free deals or 33% off, which encourage consumers to purchase more food than they actually need.
Processed foods have more calories in than raw ingredients. This is adding to the obesity epidemic. The amount of processed foods it takes to fill a person up contains a lot more calories than filling up on fruit and vegetables.
Processed foods also contain preservatives and salt. These ingredients encourage people to eat the food again because of the nice taste. They are also likely to cause a person to drink more liquids, which is problematic when the drinks are high calorie sugary drinks increasing the amount of empty calories entering the body.
Many people believe that obesity is caused entirely by genetics which is why one generation after another are overweight. In actual fact, it is the learned behaviour people receive from parents and other family members that causes similar eating habits and weight problems to develop.
For example, if your parents regularly eat too much of the wrong things or they do not exercise enough, then it is likely that you might learn that behaviour from them and some of your weight might be explained by that.
There are several metabolic conditions that could be the cause of obesity. The most common one of these is an underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism. This is a condition that affects the main gland that sits in the neck and controls a person’s whole metabolism.
Hypothyroidism can be identified with a straight forward blood test that comes back within a matter of days and is very easily treated. Once treated there is no reason why those patients, as part of a calorie controlled diet with exercise, cannot lose weight in the same way that anybody without a thyroid problem could lose weight.
There are many people who feel that they are unable to lose weight or perhaps do not want to lose weight. Whilst it is up to the individual to make the decision to lose weight, it is important to stress that obesity is a risk factor for many diseases which can make life very difficult and can even shorten it.
Dr Matthew Capehorn, Obesity Specialist
Chairman of the Yorkshire and the Humber region of the National Obesity Forum
10042 Reviewed November 2012comments powered by Disqus