This article was first published on www.TataNutrikorner.com and is authored by Luke Coutinho. Luke is a globally renowned and award winning Holistic Lifestyle Coach in the field of Integrative Medicine.
Obesity is a bit more complex and different from being overweight and requires a comprehensive understanding - in order to be managed. It is fundamentally a medical problem in which the person happens to gain too much body fat, a person is obese when his/her body mass index or BMI is 30 or higher. Obesity is not a superficial problem and doesn’t act alone. An obese person is likely to suffer from different other health issues like diabetes, heart diseases, osteoarthritis, sometimes cancer - in a way obesity is perceived as a health hazard that increases the risk of multiple problems.
The prevalence of obesity is on the rise, however, the risk for obesity and its related chronic diseases is noticeable for both the sexes, but women in specific are found to be suffering more with this problem. Obesity in women negatively impacts their health - making them emotionally and physically vulnerable.
Obesity can adversely impact different stages of a woman’s life cycle and the effects begin to be seen during the mid-age. In the young and adolescent age, it can negatively impact the psychosocial health of females and as they grow old it might turn into a nightmare affecting their reproductive health. Obesity for the mid to old age women may be associated with many health hazard diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and there’s an increased risk for all types of cancer. The medical risk associated with obesity cannot be ignored in women’s life cycle as it can be life-risking for them and for their future generations as well.
As they say, nothing happens without a cause, and when talking about managing obesity among women, in particular, it’s quite essential to look into the root causes where this problem has more probability to sprout up from.
1. Eating junk and overeating: Junk foods may seem lip-smacking but these foods contain a huge amount of fats, carbs, sugar, and very few vitamins and minerals. Consuming junk food means gulping down empty calories that leads to weight gain and obesity.
Also, in the case of overeating, your body is consuming calories more than it can burn, the extra calories are stored as fat making you become overweight or obese. In certain cases of stress, anxiety or depression the person tends to do emotional eating that also leads to overeating and belly fat and obesity.
2. Testing & trying different fad diets: You might pick a fad diet like Keto, Low Carb, diet pills thinking that they can be a fast way out to weight loss! But often these fad diets lead to adverse effects on your health. The reason being these fad diets are unworkable for a long time! When the person discontinues the fad diet they are likely to be back to binge eating or probably to the old patterns of eating. The yoyoing from fad diet to binge eating leads to weight gain or obesity.
3. Emotional Issues: Women are by default emotional beings! They are natural givers; they tend to nurture and deal with a lot with feelings and emotions. And this sometimes makes them dwell into insecurities and negative emotions when they are not able to cope with the demanding conditions of life and relationships - eventually making them feel emotionally vulnerable and unloved with low self-esteem.
This, in a way, is a kind of stress women have to deal with and in response to which their bodies produce a hormone namely Cortisol which is actually a stress management hormone released by the adrenal glands. Cortisol is a fat-storing hormone, it turns on the fat-storing switch. The more stress you create the more cortisol your body would create in response to managing your stress and this way the more fat you store in order to feel loved and secured. Emotional distress can make one to reach out to eating sugar snacks, and other comforting foods that can lead to weight gain as well.
The persistent increase in cortisol levels results in abdominal obesity. Also, an important thing to know about Cortisol hormone is that – it tends to suppress the thyroid gland, a gland that plays a critical role in maintaining a healthy metabolic rate. A compromised thyroid gland could mean a sluggish metabolism which eventually leads to weight gain.
4. Hormonal Issues: Estrogen happens to be the main sex hormone in a female’s body and any imbalance in the level of this hormone may have adverse effects on the health of the female. A high level of estrogen hormone in the body can lead to a build-up of fat as this hormone is stored in fat cells in the body. This could also lead to estrogen dominance and possibly hormonal dependent cancers, fibrous, cysts, infertility, endometriosis, etc. In fact, upon a deeper diagnosis we do find that there is a correlation between hormonal imbalance and obesity.
5. Sedentary lifestyle: With increasing comforts and too much technology around, people tend to show sedentary behavior in life. There’s a lack of physical activities, extended sitting, negligible mobility has altogether shaped a sedentary lifestyle. Less physical activity doesn’t let you use the energy provided by the food you eat. So, the extra energy is stored in the form of fat by your body making you obese.
6. Lack of sleep: A person who is sleep-deprived is likely to become obese or overweight because sleep deprivation brings about an imbalance in two appetite regulating hormones, i.e. leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is a hormone responsible for satiety and ghrelin is a hormone responsible for hunger. Lack of sleep stimulates release of ghrelin and suppresses leptin which could further lead to cravings and eating large portions of food.
Sleep-deprived people tend to feel a lot of fatigue making them less enthusiastic about any physical activity but what is of more serious concern here is that people with sleep deprivation are likely to do odd hours eating or take more calories than required. The extra unused calories are stored as fats in the body making the person obese. Lack of sleep disturbs the balance of the instrumental hormones that control the appetite of the person.
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