What is Obesity?
A chubby child usually fails to gain admiration nowadays unlike decades ago. This is because more and more people are realizing the impact of obesity on people's health. Too much accumulation of body fat has negative consequences especially on health. People who have a body weight who is at least 20% higher than the normal weight are regarded as obese; if body mass index (BMI) is between 25 and 29.9 you are considered overweight. If your BMI is 30 or over you are considered obese. Body mass index is a measurement that is often derived from height and weight. It however does not measure body fat percentage but merely estimates whether a person has healthy body weight. However, BMI may be inaccurate in people who have a high muscle mass than the average person.
People usually become obese due to several reasons. One is consuming too much calories by eating more than the average person. Increased intake of carbohydrates may be due to the fact that sweets and fast foods are being advertised nowadays especially among children, cheaper foods are being developed in mass productions and processed foods are more common and cheaper nowadays. Another reason for the surge in obesity is that more people are developing sedentary lifestyle; that is they spend more time in front of televisions, computers, video games, remote controls, washing machines, dish washers and other modern convenience devices. Less movement leads to fewer calories burned by the body. Other reasons for obesity include hormonal imbalances, intake of endocrine disruptors from foods and poor sleep. There are also some medications which may make a person put on more weight such as steroids.
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Obesity is a disease. The more a person becomes overweight for a long period of time, the harder it is for them to lose weight. Obesity is also the result of a faulty gene called FTO which makes 1 in every 6 people overeat. These people who have the gene take much longer to satisfy their hunger for foods. If not acted upon, obesity can lead to many diseases which can threaten life and shorten life expectancy. Obesity can lead to numerous illnesses such as high blood pressure or hypertension, infertility, type 2 diabetes, many types of cancer, heart disease, stroke, asthma, osteoarthritis (a condition that affects the joints), back pain, depression, liver disease, kidney disease, sleep apnoea (a condition that causes interrupted breathing during sleep) and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease. Pregnant women who are obese may likely experience complications during pregnancy such as gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia (which is when a woman experiences a potentially dangerous rise in blood pressure during pregnancy).
Obesity and the Body Clock
A recent study has found out that “body clock dysregulation” can bring about obesity. This study, done by researchers from A&M University System, was published recently on the Journal of Biological Chemistry website. The authors did this study based on their observation that human and animal sleeping and eating patterns were due to circadian rhythmicity or body clock rhythms. Their hypothesis was that overnutrition causes circadian clock dysregulation, which induces pro-inflammatory activity in adipose tissue. This then worsens inflammation and fat deposition, leading to systematic insulin resistance.
To prove this hypothesis, researchers studied “reporter mice”, mice with cells which can be monitored by looking at their reporter activity. These mice were subjected to a 12-hour light-dark cycle and were fed a high-fat diet. The team was then able to characterize the effects of a high-fat diet on circadian clock rhythmicity and inflammatory responses in immune cells, or macrophages. The researchers then conducted “bone marrow transplantation” experiments, through which the rhythmicity of circadian clocks was disrupted only in a specific type of immune cells. The results show that when mice were fed a high-fat diet, the rhythmicity of circadian clocks in immune cells of fat tissue is dysregulated by a prolonged rhythmic period. This is, in turn, is linked to increased accumulation of immune cells in fat tissue and decreased whole-body insulin sensitivity. Thus obesity may be related to body clock dysregulation on the body.
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