The question whether obesity is solely caused by diet and lifestyle choices or whether a person's genetic make-up plays a role as well has long been debated among scientists without producing conclusive answers. One recently completed study tried to shed more light on this issue by following entire families over several generations.
Obesity is one of the leading causes of heart disease and metabolic syndromes. It leads to a deterioration in the quality of our life and often the length, too. Some experts have gone as far as saying childhood obesity is such an epidemic that this current generation of youngsters will have a shorter life expectancy than that of their parents!
As we age, our bodies are less responsive to the typical caloric equation of weight loss; i.e. less calories in and more calories out. Indeed, new science is revealing that age-related weight gain has very little to do with caloric balance and much more to do with the altered physiology of the aging body and adverse environmental and lifestyle factors.
Stop me if this sounds familiar. Wake up in the morning, late. Grab a coffee and a bagel (they're healthy, right?). Run out the door, get to work. Surprise meeting at 11:30, work through lunch. Decide a salad is the healthy option, but it's a Cesar salad. You had intended to be active during lunch, but because of the meeting, you won't be...
With obesity the die is usually cast early. The results of a major study in the US have established that a third of children overweight in kindergarten are obese by the eighth grade. Almost every child who was very obese stayed that way as they grew older. An individual should not be easily blamed for conditions that result from their childhood when they have little control over their well-being.
That we have a widespread anti-fat bias and discrimination out there is no secret. But when this comes from the very people who should be there to provide help and support to those struggling with excess weight, I guess we really have a problem. I asked readers to share the stupidest remarks they have ever heard from a health professional about their weight -- the response was overwhelming.
I'm fairly health conscious. Oatmeal for breakfast, whole grain breads, salad, chicken, tuna, salmon. I know what to do. It's not the bad food that trips me up. It's the good desserts. What's incomprehensible to me is the idea of having a fantastic dinner without dessert. It finalizes the whole process.
After studying about three million cases, the authors of a new study found that for people who are older than 60, having a body-mass index (BMI) that ranks you as overweight may reduce your mortality risk. And while obese people had a greater mortality risk over all, those at the lowest level of obesity were not more likely to die during a given period than people of normal weight. The reception to this data has not been kind.
Weight bias is one area of bullying that is not only condoned but also seemingly tolerated. Even though most school systems include some type of bullying awareness program in their curriculum, more times than not, overweight children are left out of these programs. Weight bias remains the one area of bullying that receives little or no attention and is not even listed as a factor in many definitions of bullying.
Prejudices against the overweight seem to develop early. One study found that children as young as three years of age believed fat people were "mean, stupid, ugly, and had few friends." People suffering from emotional distress in connection with weight problems are much less likely to succeed in their efforts to improve their health. For our society in general, a shift in attitude would help.