What is Obesity?

Obesity is the term given to describe what occurs when excess body fat has become so extensive that it may adversely effect one’s health, which may result in a reduced life expectancy.

There are many contributors to obesity and they include:

  • Genetic influences – your genes may have an influence on your weight, but it is believed that this is only a small part.
  • Birth factors – this is controversial as some research shows that malnourishment while in the womb, a low birth-weight and formula instead of breast milk can lead to obesity in later life, while other studies show that a higher birth-weight may increase the risk of being overweight.
  • Eating more – expending less – simple maths dictates that if you eat more than you can use, you will put on weight.
  • Lack of exercise or body movement - again, if there is no physical activity you cannot use up the kilojoules you consume. 
  • Societal conveniences encourage us to be more sedentary, so that we take the car, train or bus instead of walking or cycling. Elevators instead of stairs, parking close to doorways and entrances so that we don’t have to walk as far.
  • Socioeconomic factors – those on a lower income may have less knowledge or less resources to choose healthy foods.

Currently, obesity is measured by a body mass index (BMI) which contains a formula that uses your height, weight, age and gender to calculate where someone sits on this index.  Someone with a BMI of over 30 is considered obese and at severe risk of health problems.

Obesity places a person at risk of so many diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, gut and bowel problems, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, stroke, sleep apnoea and some cancers.

Often, depression accompanies obesity which makes things worse because motivation to do anything is affected.  If a person is depressed, there may also be loss of pleasure or interest in doing things which is called anhedonia, and also ambivalence may become the norm.   For example, “I’ll go to the gym tomorrow, I really will start exercising.” 

Tomorrow comes, and the thought changes to, “I can’t be bothered, it’s too hard” and this may be followed with mental beating up about how lazy or hateful one is, and then the only relief seems to be to seek comfort from food. 

This kind of thinking only makes things worse, and the obese sufferer may need psychological or hypnosis interventions to interrupt these thoughts. 

Many people need help to change their diet, including the kinds of food consumed, and the quantity of food eaten.  They may also need to eat regularly as skipping meals has been shown to be a factor in maintaining weight. 

Additonally, many overweight people consume large quantities of softdrinks and snack foods that are high in carbohydrates, sugar and kilojoules, and these need to be eliminated.  Seeing a dietician is definitely recommended and a personal trainer may not have the knowledge necessary to assist you.

Psychologically, there may be repetitive thoughts and feelings that kick in to sustain and maintain poor eating habits and lack of exercise, so seeing a psychologist is recommended because again, a personal trainer does not have the depth of knowledge or training to be able to assist someone with an eating disorder.