What re­ally causes obe­sity?

Jamaica Gleaner - - WESTERN FOCUS -

OBE­SITY IS an ever-in­creas­ing prob­lem world­wide with all the at­ten­dant prob­lems, not only in de­vel­oped na­tions but also in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries. The au­thor­i­ties are fac­ing se­ri­ous chal­lenges slow­ing down its in­creas­ing preva­lence. But what is re­ally re­spon­si­ble for obe­sity?

Obe­sity is de­fined as hav­ing a body mass in­dex (BMI) of greater than 30. The BMI is cal­cu­lated from a per­son’s height and weight and is ide­ally be­tween 20 and 25. If the BMI is be­tween 26 and 30, that is con­sid­ered as be­ing over­weight. Be­ing obese or over­weight usu­ally means that there is an ex­cess of fat on an in­di­vid­ual.

The ‘ob­vi­ous’ cause of be­ing over­weight or obese is con­sum­ing too many calo­ries and not get­ting enough ex­er­cise. It now seems that there is more to it than first thought. There are many per­sons who prac­tise sig­nif­i­cant di­etary re­stric­tions and even get rea­son­able ex­er­cise but still don’t lose weight, and may even con­tinue to put it on.

Re­cent re­search has been point­ing to an­other fac­tor in the de­vel­op­ment of obe­sity, and that is in­flam­ma­tion. This would ex­plain the as­so­ci­a­tion of obe­sity with other con­di­tions caused by in­flam­ma­tion, such as hy­per­ten­sion, di­a­betes, high choles­terol, de­pres­sion and arthri­tis. In­flam­ma­tion is pro­duced by the im­mune sys­tem when it is trig­gered by var­i­ous fac­tors. Some of th­ese fac­tors have in­ter­nal sources and some have ex­ter­nal. An im­bal­ance in the in­testi­nal bac­te­ria is an in­ter­nal fac­tor con­tribut­ing to in­flam­ma­tion. Ex­ter­nal fac­tors in­clude cer­tain foods, clean­ing chem­i­cals, sun­light and dust.


One re­searcher said the process of putting on weight causes us to eat more. This is be­cause in­flam­ma­tion puts our bod­ies into a fat-stor­ing mode and can also in­crease the ap­petite. The faster food is ab­sorbed into our bod­ies, the more in­flam­ma­tion is pro­duced; so you find that foods with a high gly­caemic in­dex tend to cause us to put on weight, such as pro­cessed and sweet­ened foods. Also, foods that trig­ger in­flam­ma­tion, such as an­i­mal and/or cooked fats (es­pe­cially when used for fry­ing), dairy prod­ucts and wheat prod­ucts, tend to con­trib­ute to the weight gain as well.

Ex­er­cise, proper rest, pe­ri­ods of fast­ing, whole grains, un­cooked plant-based fats (oils), seeds, legumes, fruits (in­clud­ing dried), veg­eta­bles, nuts, ground pro­vi­sions and pro­bi­otic (and other) sup­ple­ments re­duce in­flam­ma­tion when the ap­pro­pri­ate amounts are utilised. So if you are hav­ing dif­fi­culty los­ing weight or keep­ing it off, then you may need to re­duce your in­flam­ma­tion.

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