It seems that every day we hear more about obesity. Over 60% of our population is either overweight or obese. We hear newscasters talk about people who could have a life-threatening case of diabetes or other complication due to obesity. We hear members of the FDA debate about safe and unsafe fat reduction drugs. We even learn foods that we thought were healthy may not have been as good as we thought, and that they could be a factor in obesity. The one thing we don’t hear enough of, however, is what obesity really is.
What is obesity? Well, to start, obesity affects over 60,000,000 Americans, and that number grows every year. However, being overweight does not necessarily make you obese. Obesity can run in families, but it has not been proven yet how much of obesity is affected by genetics. Sometimes it can seem like obesity runs in a family, but many families eat together, and as such eat all the same foods. So, while it may seem like it is genetic, on occasion it is just that a family is making poor living choices. Overindulgence and lack of exercise are the other main causes of obesity. Overindulgence is when you eat a food item or food group more than what is considered safe. For example, a person who eats at a fast food chain and only orders items that have been deep-fried will have a much higher rate of obesity than a person who eats according to the food pyramid and eats fatty foods sparingly. Lack of exercise is exactly what it sounds like. Many Americans do not get enough exercise to work off the fatty foods that they eat. Now, exercise is not a miracle cure that can totally remove all excess weight and fat, but it helps a lot. All of these situations can contribute to weight gain, so it can be difficult to figure out if a person is born with a tendency to be obese or overweight or develop eating and exercise habits that lead to weight gain. In most cases, weight problems arise from a combination of habits and genetic factors.