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Straight, No Chaser: The Adverse Health Effects of Obesity and Why You Gain Weight

By Jeffrey Sterling, MD November 21, 2018

Obesity.jpg
Earlier, we identified the differences between a ‘normal’ weight and being overweight and/or obese. Today’s goal is to help you understand specific risks of carrying extra weight.  We’ll also set the table for losing weight by discussing why weight gain occurs.  It bears repeating that none of this has anything to do with the perception of one’s physical attractiveness.
Let’s focus on three considerations.
1. What are the health risks?
obesity1
As body weight increases, so does the risk for several different medical conditions and illnesses, including the following:
• Arthritis
• Cancers (breast, endometrial, and colon)
• Diabetes
• Gynecological problems (abnormal periods, infertility)
• Heart disease (heart attacks, heart failure, hardening of the arteries)
• High cholesterol
• Liver and gallbladder disease (gallstones)
• Sleep apnea and other respiratory problems
• Stroke
In the event that these risks are just words on a page, learning a little bit about some of them might provide the motivation needed to avoid them.
2. What is a realistic goal for weight loss?  What’s the balance between family predisposition and the foods I eat?

diet-goals

No matter what I tell you today, it’s unlikely to turn you into a supermodel. The goal (independent of your consultation with your own health care provider) is to get you to optimize your situation based on the things you can control. Yes, genetic factors do play a role in obesity, but beyond that you are more than able to close your mouth and get off your…couch. You are able to limit your fat and caloric intake and put down the salt shaker. Yes, genetics count, but behavior and environmental (culture, socioeconomic status) consideration play at least as much of a role. These latter considerations can even jumpstart your metabolism beyond your genetic predisposition.
3. Why do I gain weight if I’m still active?

weight gaim while active

The most simple way to answer this is that weight gain occurs from an energy imbalance.  You’re taking in too many calories, and/or you’re not engaging in enough physical activity. It’s an equation, and the weight gain occurs when you’re on the wrong side of the equation. It’s not much more complicated than this. Either do less of the eating, more of the activity, or both.  I mentioned in a previous post on caloric counts that you must have an excess of 500 more calories expended than you ingest daily every day for a week just to lose one pound.  It takes work.  This is the simple answer as to why fad diets don’t work long-term.  You can’t cheat the equation.  The moment you stop being diligent, you’re headed in the wrong direction.  Your weight loss plan must include lifestyle changes for the long-term.
In the next post, we’ll identify some very simple methods to combat obesity based on the information provided to this point. Feel free to ask any questions or submit any comments you have.
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