Obesity, according to the Obesity Medicine Association, is not a personal choice. It is a complex interplay of genetics, environment, and other factors.
The Obesity Medicine Association regards obesity as a medical disease that occurs when a person’s body accumulates and stores excessive body fat amounts. Genetic factors that include thousands of different genes contribute to 40 to 70 percent of obesity.
But as is the case in most genetic-related ailments, the possession of such genes only predisposes the individual towards the emergence of that ailment; it is not a definitive outcome of these genes.
Epigenetics is responsible for the increased susceptibility of an individual to obesity. External exposures during critical development periods can alter the profile of epigenetic marks and result in obesity. (Herrera et al., 2011)
There are critical periods in people’s lives when there is an increased risk for the onset of obesity. These periods are the prenatal stage, at ages 5 to 6 years, called the age of adiposity rebound and adolescence. (Dietz, 1994)
Prevention of obesity starts in childhood. Lower birth weight seems to be associated with a later risk for central obesity. It confers increased cardiovascular risk, which is probably occurring through changes in the hormone systems. (Oken et al., 2003)
Pregnancy and the immediate period post childhood are also periods when mothers are likely to become obese. Post-childbirth lifestyle behavior has an impact on weight gain. Spending extended periods watching television leaves little time for mothers to walk, leading to weight gain. (Oken et al., 2007)
Data for the BMI of Americans between the ages of 50 to 60 years shows a gradual increase, while a decline in body weight and BMI takes place in the age group between 70 years and 80 years. (IOM, 1995)
Several studies have noted that body fat increases with age, and muscle loss occurs, even after controlling body weight changes and physical activity. (Baumgartner et al., 1995) Skeletal body mass declines from the 3rd decade of life onwards. (Dutta et al., 1995) The rates of decline are higher in women after menopause. (Aloia et al., 1991)
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