What is Obesity?

According to Obesity Canada, "obesity is a chronic disease characterized by the accumulation of excess body fat that can have a negative impact on our physical, mental or metabolic health, as well as our overall quality of life."

Obesity has become a major public health issue that increases healthcare costs and negatively affects physical and psychological health. People with obesity experience pervasive weight bias and stigma, which contributes (independent of weight or BMI) to increased morbidity and mortality. Below are some of the factors that contribute to obesity:

Psychological Factors

When you struggle with any mental health issues, negative thinking and low self-esteem can lead to anxiety, depression or even an eating disorder. This often leads to emotional overeating, poor self-care and little interest in regular exercise.

Energy Balance

Energy is another word for “calories.” Your energy balance is the balance of calories consumed through eating and drinking compared to calories burned through physical activity. An imbalance of calories in and calories burned may cause weight gain.

Sleep Deprivation

Research suggests an association between sleep restriction and obesity. Lack of sleep can increase hunger and appetite, especially for calorie-dense foods high in carbohydrates. One explanation might be that sleep duration affects hormones regulating hunger — ghrelin and leptin. Another factor could be that lack of sleep leads to fatigue and results in less physical activity.

All the more reason to get a good night’s sleep

Genetic Factors

People who have obesity have multiple genes that predispose them to gain excess weight, one of them being the fat mass and obesity-associated gene (FTO). This gene can make it challenging to limit calorie intake as it can cause increased hunger levels, reduced satiety, tendency to be sedentary and to store body fat. While these genes can increase appetite and reduce metabolism, following a consistent treatment plan that incorporates effective nutrition, physical activity and behavioural approaches can help prevent and treat obesity.

Appetite Signals/Hormones

Your body has hormones that can control your weight. To maintain a healthy weight specific to us, we must understand the role of our many hormones and take the proper steps to balance these hormones and lose weight in a sustainable, healthy way. Unfortunately, the hormones that signal hunger and fullness do not always work correctly in people with obesity.

Prescription Medications

There are certain prescription medications used to treat diabetes, high blood pressure,  and some mental illnesses, that can cause weight gain.  It is not advisable to discontinue the medication, without speaking with a healthcare professional first, who may switch you to another medication that helps your condition without the weight gain.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors like high fat fast foods, super-sized portions, highly processed and/or sugar laden foods play a major role in occurrence of obesity as individuals are addicted to high fat and calorie, highly palatable and inexpensive foods.

Health Impacts of Obesity

Obesity has been associated with diseases and conditions that can decrease your quality of life and are commonly called obesity-related conditions. 

According to Obesity Canada these can be classified as effects on Mental, Mechanical, Metabolic and Monetary (social) health (the 4Ms of Obesity). You can get more information on the 4Ms of Obesity HERE

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Weight Bias
According to Obesity Canada, "obesity is a chronic disease characterized by the accumulation of excess body fat that can have a negative impact on our physical, mental or metabolic health, as well as our overall quality of life."
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