Obesity is a condition where a person has too much body fat compared to their muscle mass. It is usually determined by a measurement called BMI, which takes into account a person’s weight and height. If someone has a BMI over 30, they are considered obese. Obesity is becoming more common in countries that follow a Western lifestyle.
Many factors can cause obesity, including changes in our metabolism, environment, habits and biochemistry. Genetics can also play a role, with certain gene mutations increasing the risk of obesity. For example, if both parents are lean, there is a 10% chance of them having an obese child, but if both parents are obese, the chance goes up to 75%.
When we consume more calories than our body needs over a long period of time, we gain weight, particularly in the form of body fat. As this fat accumulates, it triggers an immune response that leads to inflammation. This inflammation is associated with problems like decreased sensitivity to insulin and leptin (hormones that regulate metabolism), reduced oxygen levels in the blood, and increased stress on our tissues. All of these effects increase the risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, gallbladder disease, and even mortality.
Certain foods have been linked to obesity, such as potato chips, sugary drinks, sweets, processed grains, red meats, and processed meats. The quality and type of carbohydrates we consume can also contribute to obesity, especially when we eat high-glycemic-index foods that cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels.
To reduce the risks associated with obesity, it is recommended a gradual weight loss of 0.5 to 2 pounds per week over a period of 6 months. This can be achieved through changes in diet and physical activity. A healthy diet should include whole foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, lean meats, fish, and plant oils. It’s important to limit the consumption of added sugars, processed foods, refined grains, sugary drinks, fast food, and deep-fried foods.