America’s waistline is expanding! 42% of American adults are classified as obese. 71.6% of adults are overweight, including obesity. In the 1950’s only 10% of adults were classified as having obesity. What has changed?
It is generally thought that weight gain- thus obesity, is from eating too much and moving too little.
When the body becomes obese other health issues often follow: painful joints, most often the knees; high blood pressure; Insulin resistance; Fatty Liver Disease, Cardiovascular issues; and Insulin resistance/Diabetes. Obesity can take 3 to 10 years off someone’s life span.
Why do some people struggle in maintaining a healthy weight despite diets and exercise programs?
Weight gain may involve genetic and even prenatal factors!
Cortisol (aka: stress) changes the DNA! High levels of chronic stress (i.e. from high levels of the hormone cortisol) can “turn off” genes having to do with inflammation, sleep, metabolic function, and cardiac control!
Women who gain excessive weight during pregnancy are more likely to have heavy 3 year olds. Children born via C-section seem more prone to obesity later in life (thought to be related to the microbiome of the intestines).
Medical conditions treated with pharmaceuticals can lead to obesity. Antidepressants and antipsychotics can lead to weight gain by increasing appetite and reducing metabolism.
Other medical conditions that require treatment with steroids like prednisone can lead to weight gain. Hypothyroidism slows the metabolism, weight gain is often a symptom.
High sugar foods alter brain pathways that feel rewarding. These pathways are often the same ones that addictive drugs activate! Which is why many nutritional programs have people avoid sugary products.
The busy working lifestyle that plagues modern humanity leads to lack of sleep, sedentary working environment, fast food and easy packaged meals, and self medicating at the end of the work day with an alcoholic beverage and a T.V. program or two. This high stress lifestyle often leads to weight gain.
What to do about the growing waistline?
Start simply. Set a bedtime and stick to it! Even adults need a bedtime. Without adequate sleep, all the “hunger hormones” are high. Cravings for high carbohydrate food and sugary coffee drinks. It is easy to overeat without a good night’s sleep!
Drink some water between meals. Often we may feel hunger when we are thirsty.
Many people have watches or wearables that count steps. The 10,000 step goal is not a bad place to start. 3000-4000 steps is not enough!
Talk to your naturopathic doctor about ruling out hypothyroidism and other conditions that promote weight gain. Look into possible food sensitivities. Discuss testing for salivary cortisol throughout the day and finding healthy ways to manage your stress. Looking into the microbiome of the intestines can be helpful for stubborn metabolisms.