What Causes Obesity?

There is more to obesity than just how much food you eat. It is a complex condition, one that affects more than 78 million people in this country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is the number one public health problem today and listed as the top preventable cause of death. There is no simple answer to why some people battle their weight all their lives. For those individuals, weight loss surgery can literally be a lifesaver.

What is Obesity?

Obesity is a medical term related to excess body fat. There are different degrees of obesity, each defined by the Body Mass Index. BMI is the measure that quantifies tissue mass including fat.

  • A BMI of less than 18.5 is underweight
  • A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is a healthy weight
  • A BMI of 25.0 to 29.9 is overweight
  • A BMI of 30 to 34 is obese
  • A BMI of 35 or higher is severe obesity

When a person carries 60 to 100 pounds of excess weight, they are defined as morbidly obese. The weight puts them at risk for potentially life-threatening medical problems such as:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Cancer
  • Liver disease

What Causes Obesity?

Ultimately, the cause is taking in more calories than the body burns, creating excess fat, but there are a number of genetic, behavioral and hormonal influences that contribute to the problem.

  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Poor diet
  • Family history
  • Medical conditions such as Prader-Willi syndrome
  • Medications
  • Age
  • Poor sleep habits

What is the Cure?

The only true cure for obesity is a change in lifestyle to correct the imbalance. Weight loss treatments focus on improving eating habits and increasing physical exercise. Individuals with a high BMI can also benefit from weight loss surgery such as gastric bypass.

How Weight Loss Surgery Works

The goal of weight loss, or bariatric, surgery is two-fold. It changes the size of your stomach so you get fuller faster and eat less. It also alters the digestive tract, limiting the amount of food absorbed. When you are taking in less food, the body turns to its storage system – fat – for energy.

Who is a Candidate for Weight Loss Surgery?

Bariatric surgery is an extreme measure that comes with some risks. For this reason, it is not available to everyone. It is a consideration only if you have tried other ways to lose weight, like a traditional weight loss program, and failed.

The criterion for bariatric surgery is:

  • Extreme obesity with a BMI of 40 or more
  • A BMI of 35 or higher if you have a weight-related health problem like diabetes or high blood pressure
  • You are committed to making the necessary lifestyle changes to control your weight

Weight loss surgery is a tool that can help those with extreme obesity live a better life.