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Factors Contributing to Overweight and Obesity Problems

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  • 0:01 Controlling Car…
  • 0:39 Controllable Factors…
  • 3:33 Uncontrollable Factors…
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
Sometimes our hands are tied with respect to what happens in life. But not always. In this lesson, you'll learn that despite the apparently uncontrollable risk factors for obesity, two important, controllable aspects may help you overcome the possibility of obesity.

Controlling Car Crashes and Obesity

When driving a car there are numerous things that you can and cannot control that affect your safety. A risk factor for a bad outcome in a car crash is not wearing your seat belt. Additionally, driving the speed limit is a choice that can help prevent dangerous scenarios. These two examples are things within your control that can help save your life. Nevertheless, there are plenty of things you can't truly control, like another person's rate of speed, black ice, and a deer jumping out in front of you. Factors that contribute to being overweight or obese similarly fall into two categories: controllable and uncontrollable.

Controllable Factors for Obesity

Just to be consistent throughout this lesson, I'll refer only to obesity so long as you promise to remember that I'm also referencing being overweight. There are plenty of concrete actions you are able to take and influences you can control to help prevent obesity.

Some controllable factors contributing to obesity include a positive caloric balance, a state where the caloric intake is greater than the caloric use by the body. Basically this means you eat more calories than you burn. You can help burn off calories by moving around and exercising. You achieve negative caloric balance, caloric intake that is less than caloric expenditure by either exercising more as I just mentioned, eating less, or doing both at the same time. Negative caloric balance will lead to weight loss.

It's also not just the food you eat, but the kind of food you eat that may lead to obesity or weight loss - there's something known as the thermic effect of food. This is the amount of energy necessary to digest, absorb, and transport a certain type of food. Perhaps not all too shockingly, fat requires very little energy expenditure for this when compared to proteins and carbohydrates. Again, this means we use less energy to digest fat. This fact, and the fatty foods themselves, contribute even more to obesity.

We can sort of compare the thermic effect of food to exercise. Fat is like a couch potato, while carbohydrates and proteins are like marathon runners that help us lose weight. In essence, two humongous ways by which you can control obesity is exercising and eating right. You've heard that aplenty, so let's move on to something else that's related, but a bit different.

There are other things that can lead to obesity. Not getting enough sleep throws your body's hormones out of balance and may predispose you to weight gain. Culture and family also influence the possibility of whether or not you'll be overweight. What I'm saying is that sometimes if parents are obese because of improper diets or a culture predisposed to obesity because of the food that's commonly consumed by that group, then children exposed to these situations are more likely to become obese.

As a very interesting example of this, it has been suggested that babies that are overfed by their parents develop more fat cells than babies that eat appropriate portions of food. This increase in fat cells actually makes it much more likely a person will be overweight when they are an adult. Although dieting and exercise will help in weight loss for people with increased amounts of fat cells, the sheer number of fat cells will make it more difficult to maintain a healthy weight. But all of this doesn't mean that family lifestyles cannot be controlled; they're very much in conscious control and can be modified to help with weight loss.

Uncontrollable Factors for Obesity

The family issues actually remind me to tell you that genetics play a role in obesity, genetics you inherit from your parents. Obesity does tend to run in families, so there's definitely a genetic component here. Your genes are sort of predetermined codes that program you to be who you are today. They're not fully uncontrollable as people with 'skinny genes' can overeat to the point of obesity, but they certainly aren't chosen by you because you're born with them.

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