Obesity is a chronic disease that affects a person’s mind as well as body.
The complicated issues has a number of causes that stem from body fat. Some of these issues include genes, endocrine disorders, lack of exercise and psychological conditions. However, it can be treated with counselling, nutrition, medications and surgery.
Research by the Mayo Health Clinic found obesity as a complex disease resulting from a combination of causes and contributing factors: genetic, metabolic, behavioral, and hormonal influences.
The research found people who are obese are at a potentially high risk of developing serious health problems including heart disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes, digestive problems, certain cancers, gynaecological issues, sleep apnea and severe COVID-19 symptoms.
Research conducted by Obesity Canada found the condition to be a chronic and progressive disease. It found the health impacts of obesity can be mental, mechanical, metabolic, and monetary.
“The biggest contributor to obesity is sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise and some food choices,” said Chelsea Cross, a registered dietitian with MC Dietetics in Toronto.
Pillars to a healthy lifestyle are exercise, nutrition, controlling psychological triggers, and a healthy immune system, she said.
Josette Doucette, a registered dietitian at independent practice and an independent dietitian with a physiotherapy clinic, said a person’s concern about gaining weight provides “insight into one’s feelings and I hope more people begin to acknowledge their own biases.”
Doucette said obesity has negative psychological effects, like depression, low self esteem and stress. Weight bias and stigma stem from a lack of understanding of weight control and are pressed upon society by a diet culture.
Maintaining a healthy weight is not a size that fits all, Doucette said. Many dietitian and health care providers are working with the HAES movement — health at every size — a weight-neutral approach.
“I encourage everybody to take time to enjoy your food, give thanks, savour each bite and chew well,” said Amanda Li, a registered dietitian with Wellness Simplified, Brampton.
Li said excess weight is a lack of muscle tissue. Ultimate digestion requires people to sit in a calm and relaxed state and relish every bite.
She said cortisol is a very important hormone the body produces in response to the activities such as waking up, exercise, helps body remain alert and maintain balance. Cortisol is also released during the time of acute stress which triggers body’s fight or flight response.
“Chronically elevated levels of cortisol poses many health risks and consequences like blood glucose imbalance leading to insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes, gastrointestinal issues, indigestion, immune suppression and a host of other complications,” Li said.
“Genetic, behavioral and environmental factors are the main reason for obesity. Eating whole foods, limit processed food, eating most of the calories during the day, drinking lots of water/fluids to stay hydrated helps a great deal to maintain healthy weight,” said Stephanie Senior, a registered dietitian, private practice dietitian and media consultant.
Senior said a balanced diet, eating slowly, chewing food, enjoying meals focusing on the taste, sensation and pleasure of food helps avoid stress eating and maintain good health.