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What Causes Obesity

Obesity is a disease. Although some people may believe that obesity is simply the result of eating too much, which may be true for people with glandular abnormalities or eating disorders, it is often more complex than that. Research has shown that obesity is a combination of environmental factors and genetic composition – which can make it nearly impossible to control by dieting. Plus, obesity is considered a chronic disease that gets worse over time, and may ultimately require lifelong control and treatment.

With a large percentage of people who suffer from morbid obesity (75 to 100 pounds over the ideal body weight), medical weight loss programs including exercise, diet, behavior modification, and/or drugs fail to yield significant results no matter how hard they try. Even among patients who are 50 to 100 pounds overweight may not be able to lose weight and reduce health risks without some kind of medical intervention.

Environmental factors and hereditary traits can contribute to obesity. For instance, researchers have found that the Pima Indians of Arizona have an inherited trait that makes them store fat very efficiently, which is also true in the Pima Indians of the Sierra Madre region in Mexico. The National Institutes of Health have been studying the Arizona Pima since the 1960’s, and have found a high incidence of morbid obesity and diabetes, while the Mexican Pima have not shown this phenomenon. Interestingly, both groups consume similar numbers of calories on a day-to-day basis.

The disparity between the two groups appears to be the result of environment and behavioral factors. The Mexican Pima eat the traditional low-fat Pima diet, while averaging up to 40 hours of physical labor each week. The Arizona Pima were found to eat a diet consisting of about 40 percent fat, and averaged about two hours of physical labor each week.

The significant differences between the Pima Indians in Mexico and Arizona may illustrate how lifestyle can contribute to obesity in people with body compositions that efficiently store fat. Plus, the United States can be a haven for convenient fast-food options, large meal portions, very little meal planning structure, snacks that are high-calorie and high-fat, sugar-filled sodas, and lack of good exercise that can all add to hereditary factors underlying obesity.

If you would like more information on obesity, or if you would like to discuss weight loss treatment options, such as gastric bypass, gastric banding or sleeve gastrectomy, with one of the team members here at Texas Laparoscopic Consultants, please contact us today at 713-264-8024.

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