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Obesity Information

  • Obesity is a condition in which the natural energy reserve, stored in the fatty tissue of humans and mammals is increased to a point where it is thought to be a significant risk factor in certain health conditions, leading to increased mortality. Obesity is a condition that develops from the interaction of individual biology and the environment. Excessive body weight has been shown to correlate with various important diseases, particularly cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus type 2, sleep apnea, stroke, and osteoarthritis. Obesity is both an individual clinical condition and, recently, a serious public health problem...
  • When food energy intake exceeds energy expenditure, fat cells (and to a lesser extent muscle and liver cells) throughout the body take in the energy and store it as fat. In its simplest conception, therefore, obesity is only made possible when the lifetime energy intake exceeds lifetime energy expenditure by more than it does for individuals of "normal weight."

    As with many medical conditions, the caloric imbalance that results in obesity often develops from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Polymorphisms in various genes controlling appetite, metabolism, and adipokine release predispose to obesity, but the condition requires availability of sufficient calories, and possibly other factors, to develop fully. Various genetic abnormalities that predispose to obesity have been identified (such as Prader-Willi syndrome and leptin receptor mutations), but known single-locus mutations have been found in only about 5% of obese individuals. While it is thought that a large proportion of the causative genes are still to be identified, much obesity is likely the result of interactions between multiple genes, and non-genetic factors are likely also important.

    Some eating disorders are associated with obesity, especially binge eating disorder (BED). As the name indicates, patients with this disorder are prone to overeat, often in binges. A proposed mechanism is that the eating serves to reduce anxiety, and some parallels with substance abuse can be drawn. An important additional factor is that BED patients often lack the ability to recognize hunger and satiety, something that is normally learned in childhood. Learning theory suggests that early childhood conceptions may lead to an association between food and a calm mental state.

    The mainstay of treatment for obesity is an energy-limited diet and increased exercise. In studies, diet and exercise programs have consistently produced an average weight loss of approximately 8% of total body mass on average (excluding study drop-outs). While not all dieters will be satisfied with this outcome, studies have shown that a loss of as little as 5% of body mass can create enormous health benefits.

    A more intractable therapeutic problem appears to be weight loss maintenance. Of dieters who manage to lose 10% or more of their body mass in studies, 80-95% will regain that weight within two to five years. It appears that the homeostatic mechanisms regulating body weight are very robust (see leptin, for example), and vigorously defend against weight loss. Much important research is now being devoted to determining what factors can improve the currently dismal weight loss maintenance rates.

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View Top Obesity Answers at sharecare.com

Health Blogs

I would steer away from so-called weight loss supplements. Many of these products are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and therefore could be unsafe. If you are considering using Slim Fast to help you lose weight, I have a few thoughts: - Consider Slim Fast products as part of your I.C.E. (In Case of Emergency) Plan. ... Read More »
This week on Sharecare we’re helping you shed those last pounds, keeping you updated on the most recent disease outbreak and giving you tips to stay in shape during your next business trip.
1. Summer bodies are usually made in the winter, but if you want to have a beach-ready bod now -- it’s not too late. ... Read More »
What is it you like about a restaurant? Its great appetizers? Its juicy steaks? Or is it maybe whatever you happened to eat last before you left? It’s easy to think that the way you feel about the places you eat, the movies you watch or the stores you frequent is based on their overall quality. But ... Read More »

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