Obesity: How Did I Get Here?

Reviewed Nov 22, 2017

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Summary

Here are some things you should know about obesity:

  • It is a serious health condition.
  • It does not develop overnight.
  • It can be treated.

You may have noticed you can no longer get into last year’s swimsuit, and those pants you love just do not look the same on you anymore. Face it, you have gained some weight. It does not take long for clothes to get tight and now they are too small to blame simply on shrinkage in the laundry.

If you have gained enough weight that you are concerned, you are not alone. In the United States, more than one in three adults and children are overweight. And of those who are overweight, another one in three adults and one in six children are considered obese.

Weight comes and goes as we age, or change our diet, lifestyle, or activity level. Some of the fluctuation is seasonal and not anything to worry about. But when the weight grows fast and stays on, it can mean trouble.

How much weight is too much?

You will feel it. You will need to buy all new clothes. Your shoe size will change. You’ll be uncomfortable in chairs you once liked.

How thin or fat a person is, is more than just a matter of beauty. Too much weight can be the sign of a serious medical problem. Or, it can be a health hazard, in and of itself.

Think about it. Those parts of your body that keep the engine running do not grow in size just because the rest of your body does. When you increase your weight by even 10 percent or 20 percent, you put additional strain on that engine. Your heart, back, weight-bearing joints, and feet take a beating from all those extra pounds. Add more than that, and you have put yourself in danger of serious health problems. 

If you are concerned, see your doctor.

To decide just how serious the weight gain is, your doctor will consider your gender, age, height, and weight, and any medical conditions you have that might cause it. Women generally carry more fat than men, who may have more muscle than women. The doctor will weigh you, measure your height, and examine your body for muscle and fat, then use a special formula to determine the ratio of your height to your weight. That number, along with her observation, will help her decide where you fit on the weight spectrum.

If you are slim everywhere but in a few areas, you may be overweight but not obese. With some moderate dieting and attention in the gym to those problem areas, you probably will go back to your normal self. You need to lose pounds.  

But, if your excess pounds come from a layer of fat distributed over your entire frame—making you a large version of who you once were—you probably are obese. You don’t just need to lose weight, you need to lose fat.

If, on top of that enlarged silhouette, you have even larger arms, legs, or hips, you could be morbidly obese, a very dangerous medical condition requiring serious attention. You need to lose a lot of pounds and of course most of that fat. 

Technically, obesity is defined as an excess of body fat in proportion to your overall weight. That usually means you are 20 percent or more above normal weight.

The most common way to test for levels of weight is the body mass index or BMI. A person is considered overweight if his BMI is between 25 and 29.9; a person is considered obese if her BMI is over 30.

What makes a person obese?

Obesity does not happen overnight or after a week of holiday overindulgence. It takes a long time to pack on pounds, especially pounds built by fat. It may happen so gradually, you will not notice until the situation is out of hand.

Here are some factors that may have led to your weight gain:

  • You ate too much.
  • You drank too much.
  • You moved too little.
  • You ate too many of the wrong foods, like high-calorie, high-fat foods, fast foods, or desserts.
  • You didn’t eat enough of the right kind of foods, including high-nutrition, high-fiber, unprocessed, raw, or lightly cooked foods.
  • You have a chronic condition—such as diabetes or hypothyroidism—that does not let your body process food properly. 
  • You have a chronic condition—maybe arthritis, bronchitis, or a heart condition—that keeps you from moving around enough to burn calories.
  • You take certain medications, such as prednisone, that make you pack on the pounds. 
  • You sit too long on your job or in front of the television.
  • You eat when you are bored, sad, or lonely.
  • You are over 40, but eat and drink like you did when you were 20.
  • You inherited a tendency to gain weight. 

Until about 100 years ago, just about the only people who were obese were those with medical conditions that kept them from burning calories. Life was hard and food was costly. Few people could afford to overeat. Whatever someone consumed was quickly put to use in the labor of the day: walking; washing, and hanging clothes to dry; taking care of animals, crops, and children; or lifting and pulling heavy objects on the job. Sweets and rich foods were saved for feasts and celebrations.

Today, thanks to modern appliances and conveniences, we barely work up a sweat in the house or on the job. Food is prepared quickly and readily available, even if it is not always healthy. And, food choices are almost endless. We don’t have to wait for a special occasion to eat cake or ice cream. If we want to, we can make every day a feast day. And, unfortunately, many of us do.

The tragedy of excess weight extends into every aspect of our life. In this weight-conscious world, people equate thinness with beauty and goodness, and fatness with laziness and gluttony. People who are overweight are often discriminated against in school and the workplace. Whether they are technically overweight, obese, or morbidly obese, people carrying extra pounds are likely to experience rejection, shame, or depression, no matter what they do or where they are.

Why worry?
 
People who are overweight and obese at any age are at increased risk for developing high blood pressure, pre-diabetes and diabetes, bone and joint problems, heart problems, stroke, psychological problems, and many types of cancers.

Think about it: If you pile too many rocks on a small wooden table, what happens? The table crumbles. All the weight you have packed on will cause problems on your own frame, while it stresses the organs that work to keep you healthy.

If you are overweight, obese, or morbidly obese, you can work with your doctor to find a healthy solution to your weight problem. Not only will your health improve, but you will feel better too.

Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/obesity/facts.htm

National Institute of Mental Health
www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/Pages/overweight-obesity-statistics.aspx

Obesity Society
www.obesity.org

By Paula Hartman Cohen
Source: Marsha Marcus, PhD, Professor, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA; Judith Matz, LCSW, therapist specializing in treating eating disorders, author of The Diet Survivor’s Handbook: 60 Lessons in Eating, Acceptance and Self Care, Skokie, IL.
Reviewed by Romeo Purugganan, MD, DABPN, Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

Here are some things you should know about obesity:

  • It is a serious health condition.
  • It does not develop overnight.
  • It can be treated.

You may have noticed you can no longer get into last year’s swimsuit, and those pants you love just do not look the same on you anymore. Face it, you have gained some weight. It does not take long for clothes to get tight and now they are too small to blame simply on shrinkage in the laundry.

If you have gained enough weight that you are concerned, you are not alone. In the United States, more than one in three adults and children are overweight. And of those who are overweight, another one in three adults and one in six children are considered obese.

Weight comes and goes as we age, or change our diet, lifestyle, or activity level. Some of the fluctuation is seasonal and not anything to worry about. But when the weight grows fast and stays on, it can mean trouble.

How much weight is too much?

You will feel it. You will need to buy all new clothes. Your shoe size will change. You’ll be uncomfortable in chairs you once liked.

How thin or fat a person is, is more than just a matter of beauty. Too much weight can be the sign of a serious medical problem. Or, it can be a health hazard, in and of itself.

Think about it. Those parts of your body that keep the engine running do not grow in size just because the rest of your body does. When you increase your weight by even 10 percent or 20 percent, you put additional strain on that engine. Your heart, back, weight-bearing joints, and feet take a beating from all those extra pounds. Add more than that, and you have put yourself in danger of serious health problems. 

If you are concerned, see your doctor.

To decide just how serious the weight gain is, your doctor will consider your gender, age, height, and weight, and any medical conditions you have that might cause it. Women generally carry more fat than men, who may have more muscle than women. The doctor will weigh you, measure your height, and examine your body for muscle and fat, then use a special formula to determine the ratio of your height to your weight. That number, along with her observation, will help her decide where you fit on the weight spectrum.

If you are slim everywhere but in a few areas, you may be overweight but not obese. With some moderate dieting and attention in the gym to those problem areas, you probably will go back to your normal self. You need to lose pounds.  

But, if your excess pounds come from a layer of fat distributed over your entire frame—making you a large version of who you once were—you probably are obese. You don’t just need to lose weight, you need to lose fat.

If, on top of that enlarged silhouette, you have even larger arms, legs, or hips, you could be morbidly obese, a very dangerous medical condition requiring serious attention. You need to lose a lot of pounds and of course most of that fat. 

Technically, obesity is defined as an excess of body fat in proportion to your overall weight. That usually means you are 20 percent or more above normal weight.

The most common way to test for levels of weight is the body mass index or BMI. A person is considered overweight if his BMI is between 25 and 29.9; a person is considered obese if her BMI is over 30.

What makes a person obese?

Obesity does not happen overnight or after a week of holiday overindulgence. It takes a long time to pack on pounds, especially pounds built by fat. It may happen so gradually, you will not notice until the situation is out of hand.

Here are some factors that may have led to your weight gain:

  • You ate too much.
  • You drank too much.
  • You moved too little.
  • You ate too many of the wrong foods, like high-calorie, high-fat foods, fast foods, or desserts.
  • You didn’t eat enough of the right kind of foods, including high-nutrition, high-fiber, unprocessed, raw, or lightly cooked foods.
  • You have a chronic condition—such as diabetes or hypothyroidism—that does not let your body process food properly. 
  • You have a chronic condition—maybe arthritis, bronchitis, or a heart condition—that keeps you from moving around enough to burn calories.
  • You take certain medications, such as prednisone, that make you pack on the pounds. 
  • You sit too long on your job or in front of the television.
  • You eat when you are bored, sad, or lonely.
  • You are over 40, but eat and drink like you did when you were 20.
  • You inherited a tendency to gain weight. 

Until about 100 years ago, just about the only people who were obese were those with medical conditions that kept them from burning calories. Life was hard and food was costly. Few people could afford to overeat. Whatever someone consumed was quickly put to use in the labor of the day: walking; washing, and hanging clothes to dry; taking care of animals, crops, and children; or lifting and pulling heavy objects on the job. Sweets and rich foods were saved for feasts and celebrations.

Today, thanks to modern appliances and conveniences, we barely work up a sweat in the house or on the job. Food is prepared quickly and readily available, even if it is not always healthy. And, food choices are almost endless. We don’t have to wait for a special occasion to eat cake or ice cream. If we want to, we can make every day a feast day. And, unfortunately, many of us do.

The tragedy of excess weight extends into every aspect of our life. In this weight-conscious world, people equate thinness with beauty and goodness, and fatness with laziness and gluttony. People who are overweight are often discriminated against in school and the workplace. Whether they are technically overweight, obese, or morbidly obese, people carrying extra pounds are likely to experience rejection, shame, or depression, no matter what they do or where they are.

Why worry?
 
People who are overweight and obese at any age are at increased risk for developing high blood pressure, pre-diabetes and diabetes, bone and joint problems, heart problems, stroke, psychological problems, and many types of cancers.

Think about it: If you pile too many rocks on a small wooden table, what happens? The table crumbles. All the weight you have packed on will cause problems on your own frame, while it stresses the organs that work to keep you healthy.

If you are overweight, obese, or morbidly obese, you can work with your doctor to find a healthy solution to your weight problem. Not only will your health improve, but you will feel better too.

Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/obesity/facts.htm

National Institute of Mental Health
www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/Pages/overweight-obesity-statistics.aspx

Obesity Society
www.obesity.org

By Paula Hartman Cohen
Source: Marsha Marcus, PhD, Professor, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA; Judith Matz, LCSW, therapist specializing in treating eating disorders, author of The Diet Survivor’s Handbook: 60 Lessons in Eating, Acceptance and Self Care, Skokie, IL.
Reviewed by Romeo Purugganan, MD, DABPN, Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

Here are some things you should know about obesity:

  • It is a serious health condition.
  • It does not develop overnight.
  • It can be treated.

You may have noticed you can no longer get into last year’s swimsuit, and those pants you love just do not look the same on you anymore. Face it, you have gained some weight. It does not take long for clothes to get tight and now they are too small to blame simply on shrinkage in the laundry.

If you have gained enough weight that you are concerned, you are not alone. In the United States, more than one in three adults and children are overweight. And of those who are overweight, another one in three adults and one in six children are considered obese.

Weight comes and goes as we age, or change our diet, lifestyle, or activity level. Some of the fluctuation is seasonal and not anything to worry about. But when the weight grows fast and stays on, it can mean trouble.

How much weight is too much?

You will feel it. You will need to buy all new clothes. Your shoe size will change. You’ll be uncomfortable in chairs you once liked.

How thin or fat a person is, is more than just a matter of beauty. Too much weight can be the sign of a serious medical problem. Or, it can be a health hazard, in and of itself.

Think about it. Those parts of your body that keep the engine running do not grow in size just because the rest of your body does. When you increase your weight by even 10 percent or 20 percent, you put additional strain on that engine. Your heart, back, weight-bearing joints, and feet take a beating from all those extra pounds. Add more than that, and you have put yourself in danger of serious health problems. 

If you are concerned, see your doctor.

To decide just how serious the weight gain is, your doctor will consider your gender, age, height, and weight, and any medical conditions you have that might cause it. Women generally carry more fat than men, who may have more muscle than women. The doctor will weigh you, measure your height, and examine your body for muscle and fat, then use a special formula to determine the ratio of your height to your weight. That number, along with her observation, will help her decide where you fit on the weight spectrum.

If you are slim everywhere but in a few areas, you may be overweight but not obese. With some moderate dieting and attention in the gym to those problem areas, you probably will go back to your normal self. You need to lose pounds.  

But, if your excess pounds come from a layer of fat distributed over your entire frame—making you a large version of who you once were—you probably are obese. You don’t just need to lose weight, you need to lose fat.

If, on top of that enlarged silhouette, you have even larger arms, legs, or hips, you could be morbidly obese, a very dangerous medical condition requiring serious attention. You need to lose a lot of pounds and of course most of that fat. 

Technically, obesity is defined as an excess of body fat in proportion to your overall weight. That usually means you are 20 percent or more above normal weight.

The most common way to test for levels of weight is the body mass index or BMI. A person is considered overweight if his BMI is between 25 and 29.9; a person is considered obese if her BMI is over 30.

What makes a person obese?

Obesity does not happen overnight or after a week of holiday overindulgence. It takes a long time to pack on pounds, especially pounds built by fat. It may happen so gradually, you will not notice until the situation is out of hand.

Here are some factors that may have led to your weight gain:

  • You ate too much.
  • You drank too much.
  • You moved too little.
  • You ate too many of the wrong foods, like high-calorie, high-fat foods, fast foods, or desserts.
  • You didn’t eat enough of the right kind of foods, including high-nutrition, high-fiber, unprocessed, raw, or lightly cooked foods.
  • You have a chronic condition—such as diabetes or hypothyroidism—that does not let your body process food properly. 
  • You have a chronic condition—maybe arthritis, bronchitis, or a heart condition—that keeps you from moving around enough to burn calories.
  • You take certain medications, such as prednisone, that make you pack on the pounds. 
  • You sit too long on your job or in front of the television.
  • You eat when you are bored, sad, or lonely.
  • You are over 40, but eat and drink like you did when you were 20.
  • You inherited a tendency to gain weight. 

Until about 100 years ago, just about the only people who were obese were those with medical conditions that kept them from burning calories. Life was hard and food was costly. Few people could afford to overeat. Whatever someone consumed was quickly put to use in the labor of the day: walking; washing, and hanging clothes to dry; taking care of animals, crops, and children; or lifting and pulling heavy objects on the job. Sweets and rich foods were saved for feasts and celebrations.

Today, thanks to modern appliances and conveniences, we barely work up a sweat in the house or on the job. Food is prepared quickly and readily available, even if it is not always healthy. And, food choices are almost endless. We don’t have to wait for a special occasion to eat cake or ice cream. If we want to, we can make every day a feast day. And, unfortunately, many of us do.

The tragedy of excess weight extends into every aspect of our life. In this weight-conscious world, people equate thinness with beauty and goodness, and fatness with laziness and gluttony. People who are overweight are often discriminated against in school and the workplace. Whether they are technically overweight, obese, or morbidly obese, people carrying extra pounds are likely to experience rejection, shame, or depression, no matter what they do or where they are.

Why worry?
 
People who are overweight and obese at any age are at increased risk for developing high blood pressure, pre-diabetes and diabetes, bone and joint problems, heart problems, stroke, psychological problems, and many types of cancers.

Think about it: If you pile too many rocks on a small wooden table, what happens? The table crumbles. All the weight you have packed on will cause problems on your own frame, while it stresses the organs that work to keep you healthy.

If you are overweight, obese, or morbidly obese, you can work with your doctor to find a healthy solution to your weight problem. Not only will your health improve, but you will feel better too.

Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/obesity/facts.htm

National Institute of Mental Health
www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/Pages/overweight-obesity-statistics.aspx

Obesity Society
www.obesity.org

By Paula Hartman Cohen
Source: Marsha Marcus, PhD, Professor, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA; Judith Matz, LCSW, therapist specializing in treating eating disorders, author of The Diet Survivor’s Handbook: 60 Lessons in Eating, Acceptance and Self Care, Skokie, IL.
Reviewed by Romeo Purugganan, MD, DABPN, Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical or health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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