Obesity is defined as fat mass great enough to impact health (2). Obesity effects our well-being, overall mobility, joint movement, quality of sleep, and respiratory health. Obesity is linked to diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, heart disease, (3) inflammation, and various cancers.
What impacts obesity?
Genetics- Genetics can be a factor in obesity, predisposing an individual to be at risk for becoming overweight or obese.
Metabolic- This directly relates to the nutrients (carbohydrate, protein, and fat balance) that we consume, how they are broken down in the digestive tract, what is absorbed through the small intestine, and how it is utilized for cellular energy. Meaning every bite that we eat impacts our cells, do we want a tired sugary cell or a Jedi quick, agile cell full of micronutrients like magnesium, vitamin B, vitamin C and zinc needed by the cell for basic cellular function?
Behavior- This basically relates to our habits and how we spend 80% of our day, following around our ingrained old worn down habits.
Sleep: How do we value our sleep? Sleep is key in resting and resetting the body, with actions such as hormone production.
Stress impacts sleep as well as our bodies metabolism and fat storage.
Relationships: How do we engage in relationships, whether friends, family, or colleagues. Do we look for supportive relationships or are we stuck in relationships that encourage the behaviors we are trying to put behind us. For example friend A always overeats and indulges in sugar (actual sweets or alcohol), where as friend B eats lots of colorful vegetables and enjoys going on walks… which one is a better influence on your health? which friend is more supportive? which friend is more fun? Best to consider all of these and choose the dosage you take from friend A & B.
Relaxation: The autonomic nervous system (remember back from basic physiology, the rest and repair arm of our nervous system), helps to engage our digestive system. Setting intention for relaxation or ‘rest and repair’ before eating and throughout the day, activates out autonomic nervous system and helps to calm our overall nervous system. This is why we should practice taking three breaths before chewing food, sitting to eat, or even starting a meditation practice.
Environment- is synonymous with lifestyle. Do we exercise regularly, overeat, buy organic, what do we put on our skin, and do we spray our yards with round-up (glyphosate). Yes, all these things matter. Glyphosate and other environmental chemicals such as bisphenol A (BPA) have been linked to endocrine disruption, neurodevelopment, and the inflammatory response.
Why is the obesity epidemic important?
Over half of Americans are overweight or obese, specifically 66% are overweight or obese (1). 32% of children 2-19 are above the 85%percentile for body mass index for age (4). This matters because obesity is preventable with diet and lifestyle. Individuals are capable of making behavior and environmental changes, these changes will in turn impact the metabolic and epigenetic (gene) expression on a cellular level. Yes, we do have a say in who we are in this life!
How do we encourage weight loss?
What we choose to eat, keep it real. Use whole foods and mostly vegetables (at least 1/2 your plate) to make up your plate at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Work to be present while eating, so that you can feel when you are getting full and stop yourself from overeating.
Eat early and skip late night snacking.
Enjoy a fine meal with friends, family, laughter, joy, color, and dare I say dancing!
Flegal KM, Carroll MD, Ogden CL, Curtin LR. (2010). Prevalence and Trends in Obesity Among US Adults, 1999-2008. JAMA, 303(3):235–241. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.2014
Klaauw, A., Farooqi, S. (2015). The Huger Genes: Pathways to Obesity. Cell, 161:1,119-132.
Manore, M. M. (2015). Weight Management for Athletes and Active Individuals: A Brief Review. Sports Medicine (Auckland, N.z.), 45(Suppl 1), 83–92. http://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-015-0401-0
Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Curtin LR, Lamb MM, Flegal KM. (2010). Prevalence of High Body Mass Index in US Children and Adolescents, 2007-2008. JAMA, 303(3):242–249. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.2012
S.D.H. Malnick, H. Knobler. (2006). The medical complications of obesity, QJM: An International Journal of Medicine, 99(9), 565–579.