Basically, obesity results when someone regularly eats or drinks more calories than needed. The body stores these extra calories as body fat, and as a result the extra pounds add up. Eat fewer calories than the body burns, weight goes down. This equation is overly simple, because it does not account for the many factors that affect what we eat, how much we exercise, and how our bodies process all these calories. A complicated web surrounds a basic problem.
Genes play a role in obesity but not as much as many people believe. Genes seem to increase the risk of weight gain and interact with other risk factors in the environment, such as unhealthy diets and inactive lifestyles. A healthy lifestyle can counteract these genetic effects.
Early life is important. Pregnant mothers who smoke or who are overweight may have children who are more likely to grow up to be obese adults. Excessive weight gain during infancy and early childhood also raises the risk of adult obesity.
The typical “Western diet” (frequent, large meals with high amounts of refined grains, red meat, fats, and sugary drinks) plays one of the largest roles in obesity today. Foods that are lacking in the “Western diet” (whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and nuts) help with weight control, and help prevent chronic disease.
Television watching is a strong obesity risk factor, partly because exposure to food advertising can influence what people eat. Exercise and physical activity can protect against weight gain. And we are also finding lack of sleep is a risk factor for obesity.
The environment in which people live plays a huge role in the food and activity choices they make. In this country, the environment is becoming toxic to healthy living: constant advertising of unhealthy foods & drinks, the lack of safe areas for exercising, and the availability of junk food at school and work. It’s tough for individuals to make healthy choices for good quality of life and a healthy weight.
For more information regarding healthy lifestyles, call Janet Hunt (ACE Certified Health Coach). I offer one-on-one consultations as well as small group Lifestyle and Weight Management classes.
By: Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.