Basic Causes of Obesity

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Obesity is one of the fastest-growing and most troubling health problems. Unless you act to address the emotions behind why you overeat, you could be facing long-term problems. If you have a very high body mass index (BMI) — that is, your weight is significantly more than what is generally considered healthy for your height — you may be increasing the risk of many serious health conditions, including hypertension, heart disease and stroke, Type 2 diabetes, gallbladder disease, chronic fatigue, asthma, sleep apnea and some forms of cancer.

Basic cause of Obesity

The causes of obesity are rarely limited to genetic factors, prolonged overeating or a sedentary lifestyle. What we do and don’t do often results from how we think and feel. For example, feelings of sadness, anxiety or stress often lead people to eat more than usual. Unless you act to address these emotions, however, these short-term coping strategies can lead to long-term problems.

Obesity is also frequently accompanied by depression and the two can trigger and influence each other.

Depression can both cause and result from stress, which, in turn, may cause you to change your eating and activity habits. Many people who have difficulty recovering from sudden or emotionally draining events (e.g., loss of a close friend or family member, relationship difficulties, losing a job or facing a serious medical problem) unknowingly begin eating too much of the wrong foods or forgoing exercise. Before long, these become habits and difficult to change.

Binge eating, a behavior associated with both obesity and other conditions such as anorexia nervosa, is also a symptom of depression. A study of obese people with binge eating problems found that 51 percent also had a history of major depression. Additional research shows that obese women with binge-eating disorder who experienced teasing about their appearance later developed body dissatisfaction and depression.

Dealing with obesity and similar weight-control problems requires adopting new habits that foster a healthier lifestyle, but don’t attempt radical changes to your diet or activity patterns. You risk not only compounding what is already a precarious health situation, but also overlooking the core attitude and emotional issues that caused obesity in the first place.

Instead, consider a team approach that involves several qualified health professionals. Your physician will help you develop a safe plan for losing weight that includes both diet and exercise. A psychologist can help you with the emotional side of the equation-the stress, depression or experiences that caused you to gain weight.