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OBESITY: CAUSES, RISK FACTORS AND POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS

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There is an increase in the number of obese patients in Kenya. Unfortunately, many Kenyans are still oblivious of the causes, risk factors and possible complications that can arise out of obesity. This article seeks to shed some light on this condition.

CAUSES OF OBESITY

Obesity results from a combination of inherited factors, environmental factors, personal diet and exercises. This therefore makes it extremely difficult for some people to avoid obesity. The good news is that it does not have to be this way since there are weight loss procedures that can prevent and avert effects of obesity. These include changes in the patient’s diet, increased physical exercises, weight loss procedures such as slim-possible in Kenya and prescription medications.

Genetic factors- these are usually inherited from your parents

Behavioral factors- these encompass eating habits, physical exercises and choices of food.

Metabolic factors-they have got something to do with how efficiently the individual’s body converts food into energy or regulates his/her appetite.

Hormonal influences- as one ages, there is a change in hormonal levels which consequently lowers metabolism thus leading to obesity.

RISK FACTORS

The patient’s family history and genetics- a person whose parents are obese is at a higher risk of having obesity than one whose parents are of normal weight. This is because genetics affect the amount of body fat that you can store, how efficiently your body converts food into energy, how your body regulates your appetite or burns calories during exercise as well as fat distribution. Obesity tends to run in families not only because of the shared genes but also similar eating habits and activities.

Lifestyle- this risk factor can be further divided into three that is: unhealthy diet, liquid calories and lack of exercise. An unhealthy diet is likely to cause obesity. It consists of food with many calories, lack of fruits and vegetables, fast foods laden with high calorie drinks. Liquid calories more so alcohol and sugared soft drinks can also contribute to significant weight gain. Finally, inactivity or lack of physical exercises is likely to increase the number of calories absorbed than the number of calories. Consequently, passive leisure such as watching the television leads to obesity.

Age – even though obesity can manifest itself at any age, older people are likely to experience it more due to hormonal changes and a less active lifestyle. To add on, old age is associated with a lower muscle mass which eventually leads to a decrease in metabolism.

Medical complications and medication- in some cases, obesity may be traced back to illnesses such as the Prader-Willi syndrome, arthritis, Cushing syndrome etc.

OTHER RISK FACTORS INCLUDE:

Pregnancy since during this time weight gain is common and some women may fail to lose this weight even after the child’s birth.

Quitting smoking is also associated with weight gain enough to qualify as obesity because smokers use food to cope with smoking withdrawal.

Lack of sleep can prompt changes in hormones that increase your appetite. An increased appetite leads to over-eating which will finally cause obesity.

Stress since people often go for high calorie foods such as alcohol when experiencing a difficult phase in their lives.

Complications associated with obesity

Obese people are easily prone to a number of potentially dangerous health problems. These may include:

Heart disease and strokes

Since obesity is characterized by abnormal cholesterol levels in your body, there is a very big chance that you will have a high blood pressure which causes heart disease and strokes.

Type 2 diabetes

Obesity usually affects the way a patient’s body uses insulin to control blood sugar levels. This consequently raises the risk of diabetes and insulin resistance.

Cancers

Obesity exposes the patient to the risk of cervical, uterine, endometrium, ovarian, kidney and prostate cancers.

Digestive problems

Obesity increases the probability of experiencing a heart burn, gall bladder disease and liver complications.

Sexual complications and infertility

Obesity may lead to infertility due to excessive fats, irregular periods in women and erectile dysfunction in men.

Sleep apnea

This is a disorder in which a patient has irregular breathing that repeatedly stops and starts during sleep.

Osteoarthritis

Obesity increases the weight borne by weight bearing joints and further promotes inflammation. This may lead to osteoarthritis- a disease which causes pain and stiffness in the joints, places where two bones are connected.

Obesity can lead to social issues such as discrimination, increased isolation, shame and/or guilt and depression.

Prevention

Here are a few measures that can prevent obesity:

Regular exercises- an individual should spend 150-300 minutes in a span of a week doing moderate intense physical activities such as fast walking and swimming.

Adhering to a healthy eating plan- one should eat low calorie but nutrient dense foods for example fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Saturated fat, sweets and alcohol should be avoided.

Monitoring of ones weight on a regular basis-  people who check their weight on a weekly basis are more likely to detect small weight gains and work towards reducing them early.

 

 

 

 

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