Over the last 50 years, the human population has experienced several lifestyle changes from the advent of advanced technologies to the increasingly fast pace that the world now moves at. An epidemic that has risen rapidly over the same period is of obesity with an estimated 1.5 billion overweight adults residing in the developed world out of which 300 million are women. Furthermore, based on a statement made by WHO in 2014, it is believed that being overweight has significant ramifications not only for the obese but also for their immediate family as they may struggle to carry the burden of related medical conditions. Women may find themselves facing respiratory issues such as sleep apnea, diabetes, high blood pressure, several types of cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol, stroke, and even issues with fertility and pregnancy. While all of this may sound fearsome, and it is, it is important to understand the causes of obesity in women and the way forward from there.
While there are several causes, the ones elaborated on below take pertinence:
Lack of Movement: The primary cause of obesity is the lack of balance in people’s lifestyles. Overconsumption of fast food or home-cooked food with little to no effort made to exercise and burn fats and sugars results in an excessive amount of calories, leading to obesity. The same conclusion has been supported by numerous studies that claim that reduced movement during work hours and leisure time has led to obesity due to the adoption of sedentary lifestyles.
Lack of Moderation: Excessive consumption of alcohol, fast food, sugary drinks, and comfort eating also leads to obesity. Due to this it is important to eat such foods occasionally and in moderation only.
Genetics: This one is quite self-explanatory, the children of obese parents may lean towards being obese themselves compared to those of leaner parents.
Hormones: It is imperative to understand that hormones are essential to the regulation of our hunger and satiety indicators. Often, commonly found issues such as stress and a lack of sleep at night can severely disrupt these natural indicators. When such an event takes place, one may experience cravings even if they are not genuinely hungry.
Medication: Several medications such as steroids, beta-blockers, anti-depressants, anti-seizure and diabetes medications can often lead to weight gain and eventually obesity if not regulated. Of course, seek guidance from your general physician before taking any drastic steps with your prescribed medication.
Keeping that in mind, it is now essential to elaborate on the way forward for those who have obesity and those who can prevent it.
It is imperative for those suffering from obesity to either reduce their energy intake, increase their form of exercise, or both. Therefore, both the diet and the lifestyle must be mitigated to achieve the best results. Doing so will also help in the prevention of diabetes. Once again, please do not implement drastic decisions by yourself and always consult a general physician or certified dietician for the same as each person’s body, condition, and needs are unique and individual to their circumstances.
Ultimately, obesity is a combined product of several socioeconomic, cultural, environmental, behavioural, and genetic factors. Therefore, it is time for society at large to take personal and collective responsibility for and action toward the prevention of obesity while actively supporting those suffering from it. Encouraging healthy eating habits and an effective routine full of physical movement in every aspect of life is the need of the hour and will require the support and understanding of all stakeholders involved.
(Dr. Manan Vora is an Orthopaedic Surgeon, Sports Medicine Expert & Content Creator)