Top Ten Reasons for the Obesity Epidemic

In a recent issue of the British journal – The New Scientist (November 4-10, 2006) they reported on a review paper written by 20 experts on the field of obesity in the International Journal of Obesity listing the top ten reasons for the epidemic of obesity.  Here they are:

  1. Not Enough Sleep – While obesity causes sleep problems, the reverse seems to be the case as well. It seems that sleep deprivation may cause an alteration in metabolism which in turn causes weight gain. The answer simply seems to be, sleep more.
  2. Climate Control – Our bodies have a thermoneutral zone where we like to stay which means air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter.  By keeping ourselves too close to the thermoneutral zone we use less energy. The answer here is to keep it warmer in the summer and cooler in the winter. Lose weight and save money.  A no-brainer in my mind.
  3. Less smoking – Guess what? You do gain weight if you stop smoking. Still you would have to gain about 100 pounds to even the health risk from smoking. Answer, don’t smoke, the weight loss isn’t worth it.
  4. Prenatal effect – Mother’s fed a high-fat diet during pregnancy are more likely to have overweight children. Conversely, if the mother was starved during pregnancy like in famines after World War II, the child is also likely to be obese. The answer is to stop the trend and eat right if you are pregnant.
  5. Fat equals fecund – Overweight people have more children. Having children does make you gain weight but women who are heavier tend to have more children. If you look at reason #4 you see that the genetic component here may make a difference. Answer? see #4.
  6. A little older… – Women in our society are having children later in life than ever before. People over the age of 40 are more likely to be overweight than their younger counterparts. No real answer here except that if you do want to have a child later on in life, take real good care of yourself.
  7. More drugs – Is anyone surprised that a number of drugs cause weight gain? Everything from beta blockers to anticonvulsants to antipsychotics to contraceptive pills and even antihistamines can add up the pounds. The answer here is simple; don’t do drugs.  Find safer alternatives.
  8. Pollution – If anyone has read my previous blogs or if you have sat in on my lectures you will know that environmental toxins have a great impact of obesity. My data has suggested that toxins can slow down resting metabolism thereby reducing energy output which can lead to weight gain. My answer to this dilemma is to detoxify yourself and reduce exposure.
  9. Mature mums – Pretty much the same as #6.  A little redundant but I guess they wanted to make a point.
  10. Like marrying like – Overweight people tend to marry people who are equally overweight. Add the genetic factor and you can see where this is going. No real answer here.

The bottom line is aside from eating too much and exercising too little, there are a multitude of reasons why obesity has become such a problem.  The only answer is for people to do what they can to lose weight. 

I will be posting simple, scientifically verifiable ways to increase calorie burning in the upcoming weeks.  Stay tuned.