Type: Exploratory
Pages: 9 | Words: 2409
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According to Porth (2011), individuals whose weight exceeds the normal weight are often referred to as overweight with some being deemed to be suffering from obesity. However, there exists a difference between obesity and being overweight. An overweight person can be defined as a person who weighs well above normal or more than the weight needed to be fit or healthy. On the other hand, the term obesity is used to refer to a condition in which a person has increased body weight as a result of fat accumulation in the body, enlarged fat cells, as well as increased fat cells in the body. A person becomes obese when the percentage of body fat goes above 20% of the total body weight. Overweight and obesity present major health challenges as they increase the chances of contracting chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, as well as cardiovascular diseases. These complications were once considered to be affecting high-income countries alone; however, a current dramatic increase of obesity and overweight in both low-income and high-income countries is alarming.

Clinically obesity and overweight are defined in relation to Basic Metabolism Index (BMI). According to World Health Organization (2012), BMI is obtained by dividing the weight (in kilograms) of a person with the square of the individual’s height (in meters). A person is considered to be overweight if he or she has a BMI which ranges from 25kg/m2 to 29.9kg/m2 while a person having BMI of 30kg/m2 and above is considered to be obese. In addition, an individual whose BMI is above 40kg/m2 is known to be morbidly obese. Obesity and overweight results from imbalance between the amount of energy taken in and energy consumed and thus, the fats are accumulated, which is also the main energy storage form. However, BMI does not measure the amount of fat in the body.

According to National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the number of people who are obese or overweight in United States is steadily rising. In 1988-1994, among adults of 20 years and above, only 56% were either obese or overweight. The percentage has currently increased to 68%. As previously thought, overweight is not just a problem with the older generation; it affects the young as well. In fact, the same trend of increase in adults has also been observed in children and teenagers between 2 to 19 years old. The figure of overweight children was at 10% between 1988 and 1994. However, a survey conducted in 2007-2008 indicated that it had risen to 17% (National Cancer Institute, 2012).

Factors that Favor Abnormal Weight Increase. Increase in body weight is majorly fueled by consumption of calories much more than the physical activities of the body can burn up. The excess calories are then converted to fats which is the major storage form of energy in the body. As the amount of fat increases, the body fat cells increase in size until they can no more expand. The number of fat cells then increases. In addition to overeating, imbalance between intake of calorie and consumption vary from one individual to another as it is influenced by several factors such as age, genes, physiological makeup, gender and even environmental factors. This explains why different people have different Basic Metabolic Rate (BMR) which is the daily caloric requirement by each person (Porth, 2011).

Increase in weight is likely to occur when one leads sedentary lifestyle. Most Americans lead an inactive lifestyle as they spend much time in front of computers, and televisions doing work, school assignments, and leisure activities. Other factors that encourage sedentary lifestyle include lack of physical curricula in schools as well as the fact that most people prefer using cars to get to work rather than walking. Additionally, some workplaces have fewer physical demands than should be in the case. Moreover, modern technology, and conveniences at home eliminate the need of using much physical energy. Due to little physical exercise, the body is not able to burn calories in the same amount in which they consume from food and drinks (Porth, 2011).

Some environments also do encourage obesity as they do not support healthy lifestyle habit.  These include lack of sidewalks and recreational places in the neighborhood and tight work schedules, which do not promote physical exercise. Similarly, the exposure to oversized food proportions, lack of access to healthy foods, and food advertisements have continued to promote unhealthy eating. Other than environmental factors, some emotional factors such as boredom, anger, and stress often encourage overeating. This happens as the emotionally affected individuals attempt to manage such conditions by resorting to food as a consolation (Poskitt & Edmunds, 2008).

Overweight may as well be influenced by genes and family lifestyle. This is due to the fact that obesity and overweight seems to be passed through the family lineage. For instance, children are also likely to be influenced by the lifestyle their parents lead. If a parent does not embrace a healthy lifestyle, the children may emulate the same and, thus, experience abnormal increase in weight. On the other hand, certain medicine including antidepressants, corticosteroids, as well as seizure medicines encourage weight gain. These medicines increase appetite, while they slow the rate at which the body burns calories (Poskitt & Edmunds, 2008).

Health and Fitness Problems Associated With Overweight. Overweight is a clinical problem which impacts negatively on health and on body physical state. Increase in IBM favors increase the risks of several non-communicable diseases. Such diseases include cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, various types of cancer, and musculoskeletal disorders. Most low-income and middle-income countries, whose populations are affected by overweight and obesity, do experience the double burden of disease. This is due to the fact that as these countries struggle to curb the effect of infectious diseases and under nutrition, they are being weighed down by the rapid increased overweight and obesity among other non-communicable disease risk factors (Bouchard & Katzmarzk, 2010). Let us now look at these diseases one by one.

Cancer. Overweight is associated with increase in various types of cancer including pancreas, esophagus, breast, colon and rectum, endometrium, gall bladder kidney, as well as thyroid cancer (National Cancer Institute, 2012). Data shows that 20% of deaths resulting from cancer in women as well as 14% in men are linked to overweight. In 2002, International Agency of Research on Cancer (IARC) conducted a comprehensive expert review, which concluded that there are 39% of endometrial cancer cases, 37% of esophageal cancer cases, 11% of colon cancer cases, 25% of kidney cancer cases, and 9% of postmenopausal cases of breast cancer resulting directly from overweight (Wolin, 2012).

Certain hormones associated with overweight are implicated in high prevalence of cancer among the group. The most form of cancer that affects overweight individuals is referred to as estrogen receptor-positive cancer. This type of cancer accounts for two thirds of breast cancer. It is associated with the fact that an increase of fats in the body leads to an increased level of estrogen flowing in the blood. Large amount of estrogen stimulates growth of breast cancer and cancers of the female reproductive system. This is due to increase in the amount of insulin in the blood since such patients develop insulin resistance (Burmgardner, 2012). The insulin, in turn, stimulates the faster growth of cells leading to tumor growth. Esophageal cancer is also prevalent in overweight individuals due to the increase of the risk of acid reflux.

In addition to stimulating cancer development, overweight complicates the process of cancer detection and subsequent treatment. Lumps are not conspicuous and adjusting to doses of chemotherapy as well as radiation is challenging. It is also difficult to locate tumors in order to surgically remove them. The research has revealed that among women, who have undergone breast cancer treatment, those who are overweight are more likely to suffer from the same disease again, which usually lead to their death. This can happen to overweight women despite having received the best chemotherapy as well as hormone therapy (Pittman, 2012).

Due to the high risk of breast cancer recurrence in women who are overweight, they usually require longer durations for treatment. National Cancer Institute (NCI) reports that with the current trend of increase of cancer in United States, one out of eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the future. However, the risk of contracting cancer greatly varies over the course of every woman’s life. For such women, reduction of weight may be beneficial towards reduction of risk of recurrence. This reduction is as significant as the reduction achieved from the standard therapies (Pittman, 2012).

Diabetes. According to Centers of Disease Control (CDC), the most widespread form of diabetes is Type II diabetes, and 80% of Americans, suffering from this type of diabetes, are either overweight or obese. The National Health and Nutrition Survey III carried out by CDC revealed that in U.S., two out of three adult women and men diagnosed with Type II diabetes have a BMI of greater or equal to 27, which is regarded as overweight and unhealthy. Type II diabetes develops either as a result of failure by the body to produce enough insulin in the blood or when cells ignore the produced insulin. Since obesity reduces the ability of insulin to control the level of sugar in the blood, the risk of developing diabetes increases as the body attempts to overproduce insulin in order to regulate the increasing sugar levels. With time, the body system fails to normalize blood sugar level. Eventually, Type II diabetes results due to constant failure by the body regulatory system to keep blood sugar level in the normal range. In addition, treatment and management of Type II diabetes is complicated by overweight. This is as a result of increased insulin resistance and glucose intolerance in people who are overweight, making drug treatment of the disease less effective (ObesityinAmerica.org, 2012).

Heart Disease. Heart disease is common among people who are overweight as compared with their counterparts with normal body weight. Overweight individuals often fall victim to heart complications such as congestive heart failure, heart attack, angina, sudden cardiac death, as well as abnormal heart rhythm. Obesity often has a negative effect on levels of blood lipid circulating in the body, thus increasing the risk of heart disease (Loehr, 2008).  Increase in the level of blood lipids results into the increase in the level of triglyceride which, in turn, reduces the level of high-density lipoprotein, otherwise referred to as good cholesterol. Therefore, those having excess amount of fat in the body often have high triglycerides level and low-density lipoprotein, also known as “bad cholesterol” or LDL. They also have low blood levels of HDL cholesterol. This condition creates a receptive environment for the development of heart disease (ObesityinAmerica.org, 2012).

Hypertension. According to ObesityinAmerica.org (2012),the blood pressure or hypertension is defined as the resulting force exerted by blood against the walls of the arteries as blood is pumped out by the heart. Individuals having hypertension have raised risks of suffering from a heart attack, kidney failure or stroke. Risk of developing high pressure is high among overweight individuals since with the increases of body weight, the blood pressure rises. It has been observed that overweight people who embrace weight lose shows tremendous health improvement, even if they had suffered from hypertension.

Metabolic Syndrome and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. ObesityinAmerica.org (2012) notes that metabolic syndrome affects one out of five people who are overweight. In U.S., metabolic syndrome is among the fastest growing health concerns related to obesity. The syndrome is characterized by a host of health problems such as abnormal lipid levels, obesity, high blood sugar as well as hypertension. Existing metabolic and endocrine disorders are significantly aggravated by overweight. According to CDC, about 47 million people ( 22%) of the American population is affected by metabolic syndrome. People who suffer from metabolic syndrome are more likely to develop more health complications such as stroke, diabetes, and even heart disease. In addition, metabolic syndrome increases among patients who suffer from Cushing’s syndrome and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Most of patients suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are overweight individuals. This syndrome is one of the most common hormonal disorders, which often affect women in the reproductive age. The complication results from accumulation of follicles, which are not completely developed in the ovary. It is characterized by the conditions such as multiple ovarian cysts, irregular menstrual cycles as well as excessive hair growth. In addition, the syndrome is one of the leading causes of infertility and a major contributing factor to insulin resistance. Therefore, woman’s risk of developing diabetes is significantly increased in those suffering from POCS. Adolescent girls, who are overweight, are often susceptible to developing POCS. Excessive insulin in the blood, Hyperinsulinemia, and being overweight are closely associated with development of polycystic ovary syndrome in adolescents. Among adults and post-pubertal adolescents, POCS is characterized by irregular menses, excessive hair growth, as well as cystic or non-cystic acne (ObesityinAmerica.org, 2012).

Complications in Reproduction. In men, overweight has been linked to reproductive hormonal abnormalities, infertility and as well as sexual dysfunction. On the other hand, overweight women, who do not suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome, have compromised reproductive outcomes (ObesityinAmerica.org, 2012).

Dyslipidemia. Dyslipidemia is a medical condition that often develops as a result of increase of lipid levels in the blood due to negative influence of overweight. The condition is a primary factor that influences the development of coronary artery disease. It occurs when triglyceride, the LDL cholesterol, is high, while at the same time, that of the HDL cholesterol level in the blood is also high. This abnormal shift in the level of lipids is attributed to weight gain. Physicians report that a loss of weight of about 20 pounds can reduce the level of LDL by 15% and triglyceride level by 30%. On the other hand this level of weight loss would increase the level of HDL by 8% resulting in total cholesterol reduction by 10% (ObesityinAmerica.org, 2012).

Thyroid Conditions. Thyroid hormones regulate metabolism. For this reason, it is usually assumed that there is a link between thyroid gland and obesity, especially in individuals with hyperthyroidism, overactive glands, generally lose weight. On the other hand, those with hyperthyroidism, underactive thyroids, tend to gain weight. However, there exists uncertainty over the direct correlation between deficient thyroid function and overweight since medical literature documents conflicting information. Some sources document that thyroid function is normal in individuals who are obese, just as those who has normal weight. On the other hand, some studies have found high frequency to moderate hypothyroidism in overweight adults as well as children (ObesityinAmerica.org, 2012).

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