Causes of obesity
Obesity existed throughout history, used to affect the rich; typically kings and queen were obese. Started to invade all social classes following industrial revolution after world war II, food became cheaper and cheaper. Junk food flourished alongside excessive food processing. Additive and other chemical added to food, animal injected with hormone to encourage growth and weight gain. Genetic of plants and animal played with.
Soft drink, needs special mention, I regard them as one of the biggest curse on human health. Have you ever tried to eat junk food without soft drink, soft drink helps to digest junk food and increases your ability to consume more, otherwise you would feel awful if eat junk food without the poisonous drink.
Eating habit and pattern has changed, frequent high calorie meals leading to constant stimulation insulin production by the pancreas leading to excessive food craving. Human used to eat large meal periodically, and food composition was completely different. Protein and fat levels were much higher; type of fat was different with equal portions of omega 3 and 6. Carbohydrate portion was very small and not refined. High level of vitamin and no chemical or pesticides. The biggest portion of current diet is very refined carbohydrate, including high sugar level (corn syrup, cheap and has high level of fructose which will accumulate in the liver leading to fatty changes), fat is mostly of plant origin with very high omega 6, (current fat consume is 90% omega 6 and 10% omega 3), omega 6 the so called good fat causes increased inflammatory reaction (too much of good is bad).
The most significant change of diet composition was significant increase of carbohydrate portion at the expense of protein. This effect augmented by refining carbohydrate and introducing white sugar. Eating habit as mention before is important as you could see from the next graph.
As you could see we need have food free interval to encourage fat usage, frequent meals to stimulate metabolism???! Is the wrong massage. The only way to stop accumulating fat and to use them is by periods of fasting and using the fat for energy production (stimulation of metabolism). The other issues related to insulin production is the very high sugar and high GI carbohydrates, which leads to sudden very high surge of sugar in the blood leading to very strong insulin stimulation, fat formation and producing sudden hypoglycemia which increases the craving for more sugar and food.
One of the frequent question asked ďwhy do I gain weight while I am eating much less than othersĒ. Everybody is individual, and you could only compare yourself to your identical twin if you have one. Our digestive system is like factory, the raw material put onto the conveyer belt which starts at the mouth. Some have very good and efficient factory and setup which lead to high percentage of nutrient extraction compare to other. So if we give a fixed portion of food which lets say have 1000 Kcal, to few individuals, and measure the percentage of nutrient extracted we will find significant difference between individuals. So if you have good factory you are going to be rich (gain weight).
Other factors like genetics, medication, medical conditions, psychological and psychiatric disease could contribute to the problem. We inherit everything from our parents, if you have propensity to gain weight, unfortunately your childrenís may have the same ability. Some genetic disease causes very abnormal increase in appetite. Depressed patient usually eats more as eating is pleasurable activity, so it is away to fight depression, our brain rewards us after each meal. To make matter worse is the anti-depressant medication, most of them increase appetite. Medical conditions like Cushing disease, hypothyroidism and others could causes weight gain.
Obesity disease and metabolic syndrome; not all obese patient have metabolic syndrome. The most vulnerable are the one whom had normal weight during early adult life. Our body frame and size of our solid organs takes its final shape by around the age of 18. So whatever weight you have then is the most suitable weight for you, so the higher the percentage of weight you gain later on in life, the higher your risk of metabolic syndrome. Of course other factors plays parts as well like family history of diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, -- etc.
Understanding how body works is important and might answer few of your questions about obesity. Will also explain why all the diet programs canít help you to sustain any weight loss achieved. Everything is in the brain, but only part of the brain is under our direct control. Our brain is trying to keep us a life, our body is very complex machine that canít be turned off, otherwise we die. Securing energy sources is the most important priority of our brain to keep this machine going. We need calories to fuel our body, to produce this fuel we need food and oxygen. To keep the supply constant our brain produces very strong signals, and the strongest is to breathe, we couldnít disobey of brain, even if you put someone under water, he or she will still breathe but unfortunately water. The second strongest signal is appetite, and hunger. Although it is not as strong as the breathing signal but it is not very easy to put up with. It is this signal which contributes to the failure of diet, no matter how many diet or clever ideas produced, unless deals with this signal will bond to fail.
So it is the survival instinct built into our brain, and these signals are not simple nor a single distinct one to block. It is like water rushing downhill, you could produce dam to control it for a while but you know it is going to fill up and spell around your dam. Our sole survival depends on the energy supply. Our brain constantly monitors our behaviors and adjust accordingly I believe. In the past to survive you needed robust body that able to climb trees, run after prey and able to plant and harvest. So if you were obese you couldnít survive such environment. Now days with modern life and all the facilities available we donít need as strong body, as machine does the jobs for us. The further we advance in knowledge and technology unfortunately the further sedentary life we lead. We are going even to let the robot to drive and take away the easy driving task.
We donít know why our brain doesnít have strong counter regularity measures to stop weight from further escalating. Our body virtually could expand until life is not sustainable; few people tried to break world record and ended dying from their weight. It is like you want to go in safari journey and you are trying to increase the size of your petrol tank, but you make it too large that breaks your car.
So exposure to elements and decreasing the luxury at home and work might be the answer to our prayers. Modern type gym and exercise is not doing the job. Do we need different type of activities, is it too late (as once you gain the weight it registers in your brain), is it because you tend to eat more the more you exercise. This confirms the need for more holistic approach, to correct all aspect of our modern life style. It needs full revolution, but this revolution is the most difficult one, more difficult than fighting the strongest arm in the world. It is full changes of our food, life style, work, housing, ---etc. you might be able to achieve by living alone in property away from modern life.
Sleep is very important part of our physiology; lack of regular sleep contributes to the cause and severity of obesity. Melatonin is very import hormone produced by our brain, we only could produce enough if we stay is very low light environment at night for 2-3 hours before sleep, of course watching TV or computer screen and have long night out doesnít help. Lack of this hormone found to contribute to obesity and increasing rate of cancer. Need to sleep at least 8 hours a day to allow time for proper body function. It is very easy to get trapped into the vortex of sleeplessness. Sleep less, more food consumptions, less melatonin leading to weight gain, which leads to obstruction sleep apnea and much less physiologic sleeping time, sleeplessness during the day, less activities and more weight gain, worse sleep apnea and the circle continues. Late night sleep also associated with higher calorie junk food consumption. High and excess alcohol consumption happens late night too. Alcohol is high calorie, toxic and carcinogenic liquid. Proved to cause liver cirrhosis and cancer of liver and other organs, in addition to playing havoc with our cerebellum which is important for balance and fine movement of our body. Energy drinks with very high caffeine also disturbs our sleep and contributes to the problem,56 this is in addition to other component like sugar.
It is very hard to cover or know all the causes of obesity, it is very complex and basically if you have the problem, trying to solve it feels like playing against computer program to win. Back to basic is one way to ease and possibly keep your weight at bay.