Psychological Factors in Obesity
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Obesity is when one is very overweight, which can be harmful to health. Obesity is a chronic disease associated with a reduced quality of life and a high risk of secondary diseases. Those affected not only suffer from the physical consequences but also stigmatization from the environment. Read here what exactly Obesity is, how it manifests itself and what you can do about it.
What is Obesity?
Obesity is not a figure problem for people with weak character but a recognized, chronic disease. It belongs to the group of hormonal, nutritional and metabolic diseases. The Obesity Society defines Obesity as an accumulation of fatty tissue in the body that exceeds the normal level.
Guide value body mass index (BMI)
A body mass index of 25 or more is considered overweight according to the guidelines of the World Health Organization, and obese from a BMI of 30. The BMI is calculated from the weight (in kg) divided by the height squared (m2). Thus, for example, a person 180 cm tall would be overweight with 81 kilograms and obese with 98 kilograms.
A person becomes overweight or obese if he supplies his body with more energy than he consumes in the long term (positive energy balance). Food intake and exercise are two parameters that can be used to influence weight.
Calculate your BMI
Individual factors influence weight
However, numerous factors significantly influence the metabolism and thus the individual energy balance. This includes the genetic makeup, the mother’s diet during pregnancy or the hormones. Therefore, overweight people do not necessarily have to eat more or exercise less than lean people.
Stress on the whole body
Obesity, also known as Obesity, puts a strain on the whole body and therefore carries a high risk of secondary diseases – from heart attacks to diabetes to various types of cancer. A quarter of adults in Germany are now obese is, therefore, a major social problem.
From a BMI of 40, the psychologist also speaks of adiposity permanent or Obesity grade 3. Those affected are very obese and, therefore, most severely restricted in their quality of life. They even find it difficult to walk or sit slowly.
They are particularly likely to suffer from secondary diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure, reducing their life expectancy. Most of the time, self-confidence suffers from being overweight, and those affected are stigmatized by their environment.
Losing weight significantly is crucial for very obese people to become healthier again. You can read more about grade III Obesity in the article Obesity permanent.
The more pronounced the excess weight is and the longer it has existed, the greater the physical complaints are usually. The risk of secondary diseases also increases. The messenger substances that are formed in adipose tissue also contribute to this. They are called adipokines. While there are quite a few in the overweight sector who are physically fit and healthy, obese people are unlikely to be.
Main Symptom of Abnormal Fat Accumulation
The main symptom of Obesity is the excessive accumulation of fat deposits in the body. They strain the body through the light burden that it has to bear, and that has to be supplied with oxygen and nutrients.
The fat deposits are also not just fat stores. They produce messenger substances that negatively affect metabolism and many other bodily functions.
Fat Distribution: Apple Type and Pear Type
How dangerous the fat is depended not only on the amount but also on where it accumulates. Fat stores in the abdominal region are considered to be particularly unfavourable to health. The so-called visceral fat collects not only under the skin but also around the organs. The body silhouette with this fat distribution is also known as the “apple type”. It is especially typical for men.
In women, on the other hand, fat accumulates mainly on the hips and thighs. This is why this shape is known as the “pear type”. These deposits are less harmful to health than those of the apple type.
Abdominal Circumference Risk Factor
As a rule of thumb, a waist circumference of over 80 cm is considered risky for women and over 94 cm. This increases the risk of stroke and types two diabetes, among other things. With a waist circumference of over 88 cm in women and 102 cm in men, the risk is significantly higher.
Reduced Physical Performance
The heart and circulation are particularly stressed by being overweight. Even minor physical exertion becomes a strenuous undertaking. This is due on the one hand to the weight load and the fact that more tissue has to be supplied with blood overall.
The limited physical performance is primarily noticeable through shortness of breath. This occurs when the heart and lungs cannot compensate for the increased need for oxygen, and there is a lack of oxygen in the blood and tissue.
Since any physical activity is very strenuous due to the weight and uncomfortable due to the shortness of breath, many people with Obesity shy away from physical exertion. But it is precisely the lack of exercise that can be a major cause of Obesity. Those affected can get caught in a vicious circle of lack of exercise and weight gain, which pushes their weight higher and higher.
Obesity: Causes and Risk Factors
The causes of Obesity go far beyond eating too much and too little exercise. Several factors seem to influence and reinforce one another. The exact mechanisms have not yet been fully clarified. However, it is becoming apparent that the disease tends to take on a life of its own: the more overweight, the more stubbornly the body defends the extra pounds.
Eating behaviour (alimentary Obesity)
If you eat too much and very high in calories, you are very likely to gain weight. But which amount is too much depends on many factors and is individually different.
Some psychologists believe that it is not the total amount of calories that is decisive for the development of Obesity but the composition of the diet. For example, those oils with polyunsaturated fatty acids are less potent than saturated fat. Or those sweets make you thicker than vegetables with the same amount of calories.
Still, other hypotheses suggest that longer breaks, during which the body has time to break down food deposits, help to become or stay slim. If you often eat something in between, you might be more likely to gain weight with the same calorie intake. A minimum of four calorie-free hours between meals is recommended.
Genetic Causes of Obesity
Genes play a major role in the development of Obesity: The results of twin studies suggest that about 40 to 70 per cent of Obesity is due to genetic causes.
However, it is currently unclear how many genes are involved in the development of Obesity and in what way. About 100 genes are known to be associated with overweight and Obesity.
In particular, the “FTO gene” is the focus of obesity research. The gene appears to be involved in controlling appetite. People with a mutation in this gene may have a delayed feeling full and therefore gain weight more easily.
An “individual target weight” could also be genetically determined. The underlying mechanisms are so far completely unclear. However, studies with adopted children speak in favour of such a genetically programmed target weight: In these studies, the weight of the adoptive children in adulthood was less likely to be that of the adoptive parents, but more often to the weight of the biological parents and siblings.
Obesity: Examinations and Diagnosis
If you have symptoms because of your increased body weight or gain weight for no apparent reason, you should first see your doctor. In the so-called anamnesis interview, they will first ask you a few questions to narrow down the possible causes.
To treat Obesity, it is not enough to lose some weight in the short term. To avert serious secondary diseases, people with Obesity must permanently reduce their weight and normalize their energy metabolism again.
For obesity therapy to be successful in the long term, profound lifestyle changes are necessary. Obesity therapy is always based on a combination of nutrition, exercise and behavioural therapy.
Surgery can also be an option for some. Read our article to learn more: Gastric Sleeve Surgery for Weight Loss: Procedure, Risks, and Life After Procedure
Some countless tablets and powders are supposed to help you lose weight, for example, by curbing the appetite, boosting the metabolism or channelling certain food components such as fats through the intestine undigested. These are known as anorectics.
However, many over-the-counter products are at best expensive and ineffective and at worst dangerous to health. Talk to your doctor about sensible drug support for weight loss.
Most people find it difficult to lose weight. Therefore, get professional support if you are very overweight. Even a comparatively small weight reduction can significantly improve the metabolism and thus reduce the risk of secondary diseases. It is also particularly important for overweight people to exercise. Physical activity not only helps to lose weight, but it also improves the metabolism in the body.
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