84 Causes of Obesity

obesity rates

photo credit: Notions Capital, Flickr

There are 84 ways to get fat. That is the latest number from Nikhil Dhurandhar, a leading obesity researcher in the U.S., and an associate editor for the respected journal Obesity.

84 Causes of Obesity? Really?

Here are a few general categories:
  • Viral -- some obesity could actually be triggered by a virus.
  • Psychological -- poor self esteem can lead to self abuse through food, i.e. eating disorders.
  • Biological -- our DNA could be damning us from the get go.
  • Environmental --  chemicals and/or compounds in our food could be swaying our bodies' chemistry in bad directions.
  • Sociological --  the company we keep can predispose us to the types of food we eat and the kind of exercise we get.
While I've given up on "calories in vs. calories out" as grossly oversimplified, I'm not sure we need 84 causes of obesity either. But this does partly explain why the American Medical Association decided to designate obesity as a disease ... something which I support. I also support government efforts to help obesity as well. OK, before you start screaming at me that people need to just start eating less junk (which is true, but again over simplified) here's why I support the AMA.
  1. Having obesity designated as a "disease" frees up research dollars. Just like cancer and other ailments, we can now plow more money into research and try to find effective solutions, since clearly the "eat less fat" thing they came up with in the late '70s, early '80s is REALLY not working.
  2. Creating a medical designation for obesity gives it the seriousness it deserves.  Obesity is incredibly complicated ... with or without those 84 causes. It's embedded in our culture, in our food supply, in our DNA ... This is a multi-pronged war and we are losing badly. Why not give it some gravity and try to do something about it?
It's been a while since I've written about the obesity topic and it's something I'm passionate about. I've seen clients struggle with it at my studio and it really can be devastating. Obesity can take years from your life and leave you feeling miserable during those you do have. People can pin their whole lives to their weight and what they should and shouldn't eat ... how they should move ... when they should go out socially. To be blunt, it sucks, and I've seen people in a lot of pain. We've got to find a better way because current approaches aren't working. And if that doesn't sway you, how about this? In a 2008 CDC report, obesity cost the US $147 billion a year. The medical costs were $1,429 per year higher than for a someone who weighed in the "normal" range. We solve the obesity epidemic and we balance the federal budget, literally. Yes, I've struggled with my weight, although not to the point of obesity. So to some small degree, I understand what the issues are. How about less finger pointing and more help? How about a little more education and a little more understanding? Let's take these 84 causes and break 'em down and get working on 'em. Let's take this complicated issue and help people live better lives. What do you think? Lisa  

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.

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One Response to 84 Causes of Obesity

  1. Elizabeth Martin August 25, 2016 at 10:33 am #

    Very interesting post! So crazy how much obesity is costing the US on a yearly basis. I do agree that education regarding food and nutrition is the 1st fundamental step to overcome the problem.

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