Featured Obesity Article


´╗┐What Is Obesity?


What is obesity? It is simply "increased body weight due to excessive accumulation of fat." Even knowing that much can help those who are concerned about the condition. But the subject is far more complex than a quick dictionary definition.

If we want to answer the question, "What is obesity?" we may want to ask first: What is fat, the thing we have too much of? Fat, or adipose tissue in animals, is a form of glycerol and fatty acid in a soft, semisolid state. How much fat a person carries on their body is generally determined by how much of the substance is eaten in the food or how much of the food we eat converts to fat. For example, animals eat carbohydrates and this is easily converted to fat. (Carbohydrates are compounds such as sugars and starches). When this process results in an amount of fat that is beyond what doctors consider average, obesity results.

This may lead us to think that we can answer the question, "What is obesity?" by quoting facts based on food intake. In a way, this is true. The word "obesity" comes from the Latin "obesus," which generally meant stout, fat or plump. If we go back even further, the Latin word comes from "edere," which means, "to eat." This connection between eating, stored energy and fat is at the core of medical studies on obesity. Too much eating, especially of the wrong foods, can lead to obesity.

So now, when someone asks, "What is obesity?" we can answer with complete confidence, right? Not necessarily. Medical experts and nutrition experts who have spent a lifetime studying obesity know that there is even more to the picture than meets the eye.

We may come closer to answering the question, "What is obesity?" by asking what causes obesity. The correct answer to that question is, "A lot of things contribute to obesity." For many people, being overweight or obese comes down to eating too much and exercising too little. However, these are two factors in a long list of items now recognized as legitimate issues in obesity treatment.

These factors include:

- Age - the body does not use up food energy as quickly when we grow older
- Gender - women tend to be more overweight than men, who burn more energy when at rest
- Psychological factors - Some people respond to emotional changes and stress by eating more
- Medication - Certain drugs, such as steroids and some antidepressants, may cause excessive weight gain.
- Illness - There are some illnesses that can cause obesity
- Genetics - Obesity tends to run in families

So, when someone asks, "What is obesity?" we can start the conversation with the idea that there are many factors that may help answer this question. It gets a bit more complicated after that.