Beyond Calories, A Deeper Look at Causes

Recent studies have found that rates of obesity are climbing almost everywhere around the world, including in developed countries. The interesting part though, is that the cause of obesity is not just a poor diet intake or exercise.

In this blog, we discuss the hidden factors that could cause obesity beyond diet, and what efforts are made by governments and healthcare to combat obesity.

Person weighing themselves on a sclae

Understanding the Drivers of Obesity, Beyond Diet.

Genetics play a significant role in determining body weight. Certain genetic markers can influence metabolism, appetite, and fat storage, leading to a predisposition to obesity. [1]

Moreover, body organs can influence the development of obesity in several ways, for example, different types of bodies could absorb different amount of calories per a cup of orange juice, depending on various body organs and conditions. We list below the main influencers.

Digestive System

The digestive system, which includes the stomach and intestines, plays a crucial role in how nutrients and calories are absorbed. Variations in the length and function of the intestines can affect the amount of calories absorbed, potentially contributing to obesity. [2]

Endocrine System

The endocrine system, which includes glands like the pancreas and thyroid, produces hormones that regulate metabolism and appetite. Conditions such as hypothyroidism can slow metabolism, leading to weight gain. Additionally, the body’s response to insulin can be affected by obesity, leading to insulin resistance and further weight gain. [3]

Nervous System

The nervous system regulates appetite and satiety through signals to and from the brain. Obesity can alter these signals, leading to increased appetite and overeating. [4]

Reproductive System

In women, conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which is linked to hormonal imbalances, can make weight loss more difficult and contribute to obesity. In men, obesity can lead to lower testosterone levels, which can also affect weight. [5]

Musculoskeletal System

While not directly causing obesity, the musculoskeletal system bears the burden of excess weight, which can lead to joint problems and discourage physical activity, potentially leading to a cycle of weight gain. [6]

Liver

The liver is crucial for metabolizing fats. Obesity can lead to fatty liver disease, where fat accumulates in the liver cells, affecting its function and potentially leading to further metabolic issues. [7]

Role of Dietitian

It’s important to consult a dietitian before starting any weight loss program to determine the best course of action for an individual’s specific health needs.

Global Efforts

Obesity is a complex health issue that arises from a combination of causes and contributing factors. The prevalence of obesity has been increasing globally, affecting not just affluent societies but also developing countries

Government Interventions: Governments worldwide are implementing policies and programs to promote healthier lifestyles. The Australian Government, for example, has launched the National Obesity Strategy 2022-2032, aiming to make systemic changes to support healthy weight maintenance and reduce obesity rates. [8]

Pharmaceutical Advances: The pharmaceutical industry is developing new medications to assist with weight management. Currently, there are several FDA-approved anti-obesity medications available, and research continues to explore more effective treatments. [9]

Public Health Campaigns: Public health initiatives focus on educating the population about healthy eating habits, the importance of regular physical activity, and the risks associated with obesity. These campaigns aim to shift public behaviour towards healthier lifestyle choices.

Community Programs: Local community programs provide resources and support for individuals struggling with obesity. These may include nutritional counselling, fitness classes, and support groups to encourage sustainable weight management practices.

In conclusion, addressing the obesity epidemic requires a comprehensive approach that considers the factors contributing to weight gain. Consult your GP and / or your Dietitian for a professional advice

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