Xenical & Obesity

Obesity has several causes which can be categorised as lifestyle choices, medical causes and genetic causes. These include aspects of your life such as the genetic material which you inherit from your parents, how much exercise you do, what types of food you eat and whether you suffer from certain illnesses.

Diet choices which can lead to obesity are as follows:

  • Eating processed food which contains high levels of saturated fat. This ‘fast food’ contains large quantities of the type of fat which is worst for your health and can cause you to gain weight. It also has little nutritional value and doesn’t provide a lasting solution to hunger. It is likely that you will regain your appetite soon after eating processed food. This also contributes towards increased weight gain.
  • A diet which is lacking in vitamin-rich food such as fruits or vegetables, as well as lacking in unrefined carbohydrates. Unrefined carbohydrates can be found in food such as wholemeal bread or brown rice (rice, pasta or bread which is more brown in colour is more likely to have unrefined carbohydrates rather than white bread for example). Food such as white bread which is high in refined carbohydrates also contains a lot of starch. Your body finds it hard to digest this starch, and it can increase the amount of fat in your body.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to weight gain because alcohol contains high levels of calories. Calories are energy which if not used, will be stored as fat in your body. For this reason there is a link between drinking heavily and obesity.
  • Eating a large number of meals at restaurants, cafes or similar. Eating out too much can increase your risk of becoming overweight or obese as food served in restaurants, cafes and bars is often higher in fat and sugar. It is also more likely that when you are eating out you will order a starter and a desert as well as your main course. This increases the amount of food which you eat, and deserts are often especially high in saturated fat and sugar. If you are eating out, having soup as a starter and fruit as a desert can reduce your risk of gaining weight by lowering your fat and glucose intake.
  • Eating larger portions than is normal or which contain more food than your body needs can cause you to gain weight. There is a limit to the amount of food which your body can actually use (especially if you are not expending much energy on an average day), and if you exceed this amount with how much food you eat then the rest will be stored I fatty deposits around your body. His can quite quickly lead to obesity.
  • Many people eat excessively to compensate for low self-esteem or because they are feeling depressed. This comfort eating can lead you to gain more weight and become obese as a result. Often gaining weight can make you feel less confident and more depressed, creating a cycle of low self-esteem and comfort eating as a result. Exercise releases endorphins which can make you feel happier and more confident, making exercise a good alternative to comfort eating. Comfort eating often occurs between meals or late at night. This limits the amount of time which your body has to digest food and use up calories, so comfort eating can lead to weight gain and obesity.
  • Obesity in children is often caused by bad eating habits which are influenced by the diet choices which are made by the child’s parents. If your parents eat lots of processed food or food which is high in saturated fat, then you are more likely to pick up these bad habits from them. These diet choices can continue into your later life unless changes are made.

Physical exercise (such as walking, running, cycling or swimming) burns calories which you absorb from your food, and the calories which you do not burn through exercise are stored in your body as fat. This means that if you have a job which involves minimal exercise (like sitting at a desk, or working on a computer for example), if you use a car or public transport for the majority of your travel, and relax with sedentary activities such as computer activities or watching television, then you are at an increased risk of becoming obese due to fat build-up in your body. This can be countered by a minimum of two hours and thirty minutes of aerobic activity (at least moderate effort) each week, which is the minimum amount of exercise recommended by the U.K. Department of Health. Not performing enough physical exercise each week can seriously increase your risk of becoming obese.

Genetics is also a contributing factor towards obesity. This is more likely to be the cause of obesity if you find that you gain weight relatively quickly if you increase the amount that you eat or decrease the amount which you eat. If you are more prone to weight gain then this is most likely due to the genes which you have inherited from your parents, whereas other people have inherited genes which allow them to remain at roughly the same weight with minimal effort on their part. Your genes might also make your body more likely to store fat, or you could have genetic condition which makes your appetite larger and results n you consuming more food.

Below are some of the medical conditions or medications which can lead to weight gain and possibly obesity:

  • Cushing’s syndrome. This is a medical disorder which can cause your body to produce too many steroid hormones, and therefore can make your body gain weight. This is, however, very rare.
  • Hypothyroidism, which is when your thyroid gland is producing less thyroid hormones than it ought to be. This under-activity can cause you to gain a lot of weight.
  • PCOS. This is polycystic ovary syndrome, a syndrome (a syndrome is essentially a group of symptoms occurring together, or a condition characterised by a group of associated symptoms) which occurs in women and involves a large number of cysts (closed sacs) in your ovaries.
  • Corticosteroids and antidepressants can have a significant contribution towards weight gain. Taking these medicines can increase your chances of gaining weight and becoming obese.
  • Taking the combined contraceptive pill and stopping smoking can lead to obesity, as weight gain is a possible side effect of both.

Can obesity be dangerous?

Obesity is a dangerous condition which results from some medical conditions or excessive weight gain. Morbid obesity is when you are obesity to such an extent that your weight poses a serious risk to your health. As well as causing some specific medical health issues, obesity can reduce your life expectancy. This means that obesity shortens the amount of time you are expected to live due to the numerous potentially fatal complications which it can cause. In England it was estimated that 6.8% of all deaths in 2004 were caused by obesity. Such a high proportion of people dying goes to show just how much risk being obese can put you at.

Health problems which can be caused by obesity, or which your risk of contracting them is increased by being overweight or obese are listed below:

  • Hypertension or high blood pressure. Being overweight or obese can make you more likely to have high blood pressure, and as a result of this your risk of seriously cardiovascular disease is increased. A severe cardiovascular disease can be fatal, possibly leading to heart attacks and death.
  • Infertility. This is the inability to conceive a child despite having repeated unprotected sexual intercourse or artificial insemination. For women, being overweight or obese might affect your ovulation.
  • Type 2 diabetes, which is a long term (also known as chronic) condition. This type of diabetes is caused by excessive amounts of glucose being present in your bloodstream.
  • Heart disease. This is a condition where the blood supply for your heart is blocked. This blockage can be caused by a build-up of fatty deposits in your arteries and is potentially fatal.
  • Stroke, which is an interruption of the blood supply to your brain. If your brain is not supplied adequately with blood then it will not receive enough oxygen. Depriving your brain of oxygen can cause numerous complications and may be fatal in some cases.
  • Asthma. This condition affects your breathing and can cause much discomfort. Asthma is when your airways become swollen (in medical terms, inflammation of the bronchi).
  • Osteoarthritis, which is a swelling of the joints. This can be very painful and might seriously limit the extent to which you can perform some physical tasks or activities.
  • Chronic and long lasting back pain. This can have a particularly bad effect on your lower back. Obesity and weight gain can cause back pain because you are carrying more weight around on your body, which is supported by your spine and the muscles around it.
  • Depression, which is defined as long term feelings of extreme despair, sadness and inadequacy.

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