Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.
Genes & Obesity
Genes play a heavy role in determining a lot about you. This includes things like potential disease you may get or be predisposed to. But genes aren't always the end all, be all, deciding factors for a disorder.
One great example of this is smoking. For most people, long-term smoking is a potential prelude to lung cancer, even if they have 'strong' or 'good' genes.
The same idea kind of goes for obesity. While genetics do play a role in obesity, environmental and lifestyle factors are often to blame as well. Let's find out how in this lesson.
To understand how lifestyle and environmental factors play a role in all of this, we're going to spend a day with Mary, a woman struggling with obesity.
Mary's diet is not the healthiest in terms of choices she can make. For breakfast, she has some high-sugar cereal with milk, followed by eggs and bacon. Animal fats, processed/refined grains and sugars, red meat, and animal fat are all part of an unhealthy diet that can predispose a person to obesity.
But it's not just the type of food she eats, it's the amount as well. In other words, the size of the portions she eats. A little bit of cereal once in a while, even sweet cereal, is not going to do much damage.
But Mary eats large amounts of unhealthy food with every meal, way more than her body needs. Instead of focusing on eating large meals with lots of red meat, unhealthy animal fats, refined grains and sugar, Mary should focus on eating the following in moderation:
- Vegetables and fruits
- Healthy fats, like avocado oil
- Whole grains
Tied in with diet is another external influence on obesity. Television! Yes, Mary sits around for long stretches of the day watching television. This is bad for two very important reasons. First of all, television is full of yummy advertisements for delicious ice-cream and savory juicy steak. You might be salivating just by reading that sentence. And so, television ads are a risk factor for obesity.
Of course, the manufacturers of food items that are extremely palatable, energy dense, and in large portion sizes are somewhat to blame as well. And the relatively cheap prices for some of these foods don't help things either!
The second reason for why TV is such a large obesity risk factor has to do with a much bigger issue, exercise, or a lack thereof. See, Mary is simply sitting still while eating and watching TV. This creates an imbalance.
She is taking in more calories than she is expending, which predisposes her to weight gain. Instead of watching TV, she could go walk, run, or swim to burn off excess calories.
Her job doesn't help her much either. Mary works in HR and sits for about 8-10 hours a day in front a desk. These are hours she could be exercising instead!
Research also suggests that a lack of sleep can contribute to obesity as well. Mary agrees. She says that because of all of her life stresses, she doesn't get enough sleep. She finds it very difficult to exercise when she's so tired, which increases her risk for obesity.
What Mary doesn't notice, however, is that because she is awake for longer than someone who sleeps well, she often eats instead. This increase her net energy intake. Mary doesn't deny this though. In fact she claims that when she's sleep deprived she's hungrier than usual.
She's not imagining things either; it's suspected that sleep deprivation messes with Mary's hormones, which predisposes her to feeling hungrier than people who get enough sleep.
As you can tell, the external influences on obesity are many and further tied in with other lifestyle factors, like line of work and how much exercise such work allows. The external influences on obesity include:
- Choice of diet, such as healthy fats vs. unhealthy fats. This is also tied in with portion sizes, cost of food, and the palatability of food as determined by manufacturers.
- Exercise, or lack thereof. Sitting for long stretches in front of a TV or because of a desk-bound job can predispose a person to weight gain.
- Television not only contributes to lack of exercise, but shows advertisements for ice-cream or pizzas, which increase food consumption for many viewers.
- Sleep, or lack thereof. A lack of sleep makes a person hungrier due to hormonal imbalance, and decrease motivation to exercise due to tiredness. Plus, there's more waking hours in which to eat!
Medical Disclaimer: The information on this site is for your information only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
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