8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know!

hidden causes obesity

Last Updated August 23rd, 2019

Obesity has rightly been called lifestyle disease because it mostly stems from unhealthy lifestyle practices. The biggest culprits are consumption of unhealthy foods and zero to negligible physical activities. Processed foods are laced with sugar, trans fats, and unhealthy cholesterol. These add on increasing weight of millions of people worldwide. Also, today’s lifestyle revolves more around being sedentary for most part of the day. Consuming more than required calories and not indulging in healthy physical activities are the reason why most people are obese.
Did you know that there are more than 13.7 million obese children in the USA alone? In developed countries such as the USA, the prevalence of obesity in children (2-19 years) is as high as 18.5%. The real reason why the rates of obesity are high in children and teenagers is a combination of unhealthy dietary patterns, lack of physical exercise, and genetic factors. Though hormonal imbalance is also a cause of obesity in children, it is not as significant as unhealthy lifestyle patterns.
Fast food and junk food culture is largely (and correctly) blamed for increased obesity rates in the current times. If you are guilty of consuming these foods in large amounts, then you might be at high risk of becoming obese - french fries, deep fried foods ( such as fried chicken), soda drinks, fatty meats (rich in saturated fats),frozen foods/ready-to-eat meals, processed breakfast cereals, butter, sugary treats (donuts, waffles, chocolates) etc.
Obesity is more than just unhealthy fat gain. Large fat accumulation within the body triggers high bodily inflammation which in turn is responsible for a host of diseases. Starting from hypertension to heart diseases, diabetes to stroke, and cancer to arthritis - the risk of all such severe and chronic diseases increases manifold if one is obese. Obesity also shoots up the risk of mental health disorders such as depression.

Shocking facts about obesity that you didn’t know…

  • More than 1.9 billion adults are overweight out of which almost 600 million individuals qualify as obese.
  • This disease is rampant among children. WHO has pointed out that 41 million kids under the age of 5 are either overweight or obese.
  • An estimated 340 million children (5+ years) and teenagers are either obese or overweight.
  • The world has witnessed an alarming 300% increase in the obesity rates since 1975.
  • Obesity is now counted as the 5th leading cause of deaths worldwide. It is closely intertwined with poor cardiac health, diabetes, and even certain cancers.

Is controlling the issue of obesity beyond our capacity?

While these outrageous facts might leave you shocked and reaching for the weighing machine, you must also understand that obesity is PREVENTABLE!

Yes, obesity is a raging non-communicable cause of horde of diseases. But, it can be prevented by smart choice of diet and lifestyle.

The past few decades have witnessed an unprecedented surge in the obesity rates worldwide owing to widespread availability of fast-food, massive use of preservatives, and utter disregard for any sort of healthy physical activity. These are the most obvious reasons that have driven obesity rates off the charts.

But in addition to these, there are numerous hidden factors lurking in our current lifestyle that might be contributing to the epidemic of obesity.

Few hidden causes of obesity…

1. Anti-depressant medications

It takes courage to open up about mental illnesses such as depression, which like obesity is also becoming a part and parcel of our modern lifestyle.

But once the treatment begins, the patients have to also bear through the side-effects of the medications, one of them being weight gain.

Experts contend that 1 out of every 4 users of popular SSRIs (Selective Serotonin, Reuptake Inhibitor), an anti-depressant drug, experiences an average weight gain of 10 pounds.

One of the reasons of this trend continuing is that both metabolism and appetite change as a result of the pills .

2. Artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweetener makers claim that these sweeteners have zero calories and are hence healthy to consume. Such sweeteners replicate the sweet taste of sugar without adding any extra calories to the diet.

But studies have indicated that with the widespread use of these artificial sweeteners, the obesity rates have skyrocketed.

The reason behind such paradox is that artificial sweeteners tend to increase our cravings for sweet-tasting food by directly influencing our brain’s reward centre.

The appetite-regulating centre of our brain, hypothalamus, remains largely affected by artificial sweeteners. As a  result, your appetite and cravings increase beyond a healthy level and you tend to overeat causing your weight to substantially increase in the longer run.

3. Endocrine disrupters

The amount of weight you put on or the fats that you accumulate is not solely dependent on your diet but also how well is your body able to metabolize glucose and fats.

And the efficiency of your metabolic activities are directly related to the health of your endocrine system.

The endocrine system of human body, made up of 9 endocrine glands which secrete almost 100 different hormones, regulate the every function in our body, right down to the cellular processes.

Disorders of the endocrine system such as hypothyroidism, diabetes, hypoglycaemia thus tend to disrupt the overall energy production and fat deposition in our bodies.

Hence, one needs to take check of the hormonal balance in the body before ruling it out as a cause of unexplained weight gain.

4. Low-fat foods

Anything labelled as “low-fat” sounds healthy and a wise choice to opt for.

But the thinking that low fat means low calories is largely misleading. When brands recreate any food in a “low-fat” version, more often than not they are adding dangers levels of sugar in to compensate for the lost taste.

If a food is stripped of its fat content, doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t add pounds to your weight.

When we see something branded as “low-fat”, we tend to eat it more considering it safe.

People tend to reward themselves with such wrongly labeled snacks on their efforts for losing weight.

But the sad truth is that these low-fat foods are NOT healthy. They are densely-packed with sugar which might be the reason why you are facing difficulty in getting rid of your flabs.

6. Fad Diets

Fad diets such as “Atkins” or “Think The Military” diet usually end up costing more in terms of healthy and permanent weight loss.

Such diets tend to completely eliminate essential food groups from your regular meals with the promising note of helping you lose weight fast.

While they might show effective results in the beginning, usually in the longer run fad diets cause the individual to put on more weight.

This is because when you restrict your diet to fewer calories per day, you are unknowingly sending your body in a state of starvation.

The body interprets this nutrient deficient state as a calorie famine and starts accumulating all the fats and glucose consumed. This means more fat deposition in your body which could cause you turn overweight.

7. Stress

The connection between stress and obesity has long eluded the scientific community.

But finally, now, they have the answers explaining the vicious cycle of stress and obesity. When our body is in a stressful condition, it releases a hormone cortisol. This is a substance fundamental to the storage and usage of our body’s fat reserves.

When your body is flooded with excess cortisol levels, it increases fat deposition. This is because it thinks that body is in “danger” interpreted as “starvation”.

This makes you crave more food, especially fatty and sugary treats.

In the longer run, an individual with chronic stress syndrome could ultimately land in the over-weight or obese spectrum.

Also, the more one gains weight, the more he/she is going to feel stressed regarding the whole weight gain issue. This in turn is going to trigger more weight gain. Thus, obesity and stress often manifest as a vicious cycle, thanks to our unhealthy lifestyle choices.

8. Sleep deprivation

There are many reasons which could link the twin phenomenon of sleep deprivation and obesity.

One of the primary reasons is that not getting REM sleep might cause an imbalance of hormones in our bodies.This directly or indirectly hamper our metabolism resulting in excessive accumulation of fats.

Also, sleep-deprived individuals are more likely to have food cravings . Also, they tend to binge more, especially late in the night.

They wake up exhausted because of getting little or no sleep and thus more likely to avoid exercise.

The additive effect of all these tendencies leads to an unhealthy lifestyle and obesity.


TL;DR?

obesity causes infographic

 

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Obesity has rightly been called lifestyle disease because it mostly stems from unhealthy lifestyle practices. The biggest culprits are consumption of unhealthy foods and zero to negligible physical activities. Processed foods are laced with sugar, trans fats, and unhealthy cholesterol. These add on increasing weight of millions of people worldwide. Also, today’s lifestyle revolves more around being sedentary for most part of the day. Consuming more than required calories and not indulging in healthy physical activities are the reason why most people are obese.
Did you know that there are more than 13.7 million obese children in the USA alone? In developed countries such as the USA, the prevalence of obesity in children (2-19 years) is as high as 18.5%. The real reason why the rates of obesity are high in children and teenagers is a combination of unhealthy dietary patterns, lack of physical exercise, and genetic factors. Though hormonal imbalance is also a cause of obesity in children, it is not as significant as unhealthy lifestyle patterns.
Fast food and junk food culture is largely (and correctly) blamed for increased obesity rates in the current times. If you are guilty of consuming these foods in large amounts, then you might be at high risk of becoming obese - french fries, deep fried foods ( such as fried chicken), soda drinks, fatty meats (rich in saturated fats),frozen foods/ready-to-eat meals, processed breakfast cereals, butter, sugary treats (donuts, waffles, chocolates) etc.
Obesity is more than just unhealthy fat gain. Large fat accumulation within the body triggers high bodily inflammation which in turn is responsible for a host of diseases. Starting from hypertension to heart diseases, diabetes to stroke, and cancer to arthritis - the risk of all such severe and chronic diseases increases manifold if one is obese. Obesity also shoots up the risk of mental health disorders such as depression.

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