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Weight Control



Data collected from more than 20,000 people by the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reveal a distressing picture of poor weight control and obesity in American Society. These increases have been caused by greater daily caloric consumption and a relatively low level of consistent physical activity.

Today the average American man consumes 2,684 calories per day compared to 1,531 calories in 1980. Additionally only 22 percent of adults engage in thirty minutes of moderately intense activity for the recommended number of days per week. This increase in weight occurs, however, only when the body is supplied with more energy than it can use and the excess energy is stored in the form of adipose tissue (fat).

The continuous buildup of adipose tissue leads to excess weight and eventually to obesity. Obesity is so closely associated with chronic health problems conditions that medical experts now recommended that obesity itself be defined and treated as a chronic disease.

The most prevalent forms of malnutrition in the more affluent countries of the world are overweight and obesity. Most people think of malnourishment as a shortage of certain types of essential nutrients. In developing countries, food deprivation forms the basis of malnutrition. However, malnutrition can also be a disease of plenty when weight control fails because of over consumption of calories.

Because our food supply exceeds the needs of our population, people are able to eat more than is required for healthy living. They often consume more calories than they expend. They can then become overweight and eventually may become obese.

Nutritionist define as obesity when fat accumulation produces a body weight that is more than twenty percent above an ideal or desirable weight. On the other hand, people are said to be overweight if their weight is between one percent and nineteen percent above their desirable weight.

When people are between twenty percent and forty percent above desirable weight, their obesity is said to be muled, whereas excessive weight in the forty-one percent to ninety-nine percent above desirable weight is defined as moderate obesity, and finally, weight of one hundred percent or more above desirable weight is defined as severe, gross or morbid obesity.

Experts continue to question the origins of obesity. As you might expect, the many theories focus on factors within the individual, as well as from the environment. Recently the role of genetic contribution has been identified, somewhat by the discovery of fat genes in mice and an obesity gene in humans. Research reveals that this protein, leptin, would be found in lower levels of overweight mice, than normal mice. They also suspected that leptin would be found in lower levels in obese humans compared with those of average weight. It is now said that faulty receptors for leptin might exist in the some obese people, causing a second gene to restrict the production of GLP-1, a protein that also plays an important role in the signaling of satiety, or fullness.

Due to this new information about genetic genes, researchers have identified centers for the control of eating within the hypothalamus of the central nervous system (CNS). These centers, which consist of the feeding center for fullness, tell the body when it should begin consuming food and when food consumption should stop. These centers are thought to monitor continuously a variety of factors regarding food intake, including factories and visual cues, the bodyFs store of stomach distention, information regarding basal metabolic rate, gastrointestinal hormone level and as mentioned before, GLP-1 levels.

An inheritance basis for obesity could involve the interplay of somatotype (body build up) and other unique energy- processing characteristics passed in from parents to their children. In the ectomorphic body type, a tall slender body seems to virtually protect individuals from difficulty with excessive weight. Ectomorphs, usually have difficulty maintaining normal weight for their hieght.

The shorter, more heavily muscled, athletic body of the mesomorph represents a genetic middle ground in inherited body types. Mesomorphs have their greatest difficulty with obesity during childhood, when eating habits fail to adjust to a decline in physical activity.

Finally , endomorphs have body types thst tend to be round and soft. Many endomorphs have excessively large abdomens and report having had weight problems since childhood. Any calories consumed beyond those that are used by the body are converted to fat stores.

People gain weight when their energy input exceeds their energy output. Conversely, they lose weight when their energy output exceeds their energy input.

Weight remains constant when caloric input and caloric output are identical. In such a situation, our bodies are said to be in caloric balance. Each person's caloric activity requirements vary directly according to the amount of daily physical work completed. Even within a given general job type, the amount of caloric expenditure will vary according to the psyical effect required. For example, a police officer who walks a neighborhood, will usually expend many more calories than the typical police dispatcher or motorcycle officer.


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The information presented here is not meant to be medical advice nor to act as a substitute for medical advice. Serious side-effects, including death, could result if one were to take any prescription medicine without the supervision of a physician.



Copyright 2003, Thomas Manaugh, PhD