“Hey! I’m not fat, I’m just a little bubbly and that is cute”. Well, no doubt, you’re adorable. Humans come in different shapes, colours and sizes and all of them are adorable! But let us not forget, we all have the same organs and a similar way of functioning. At one point, you may become resistant to the comments people are going to give you regarding your weight but can your body become resistant to a plethora of problems that are going to set in because of you being “bubbly”? The straight answer is NO.
We are not going to take the “body shaming” topic into account here. We are not going to talk about “being lean is being pretty” or all that bullshit for that matter because that is not the truth. You’re beautiful the way you are but this is about your own conscience. Let us leave the people’s thoughts aside for a moment or forever for they do not matter. You matter. Lets talk about you and your body.
Now there are a plenty of reasons why someone is fat or someone is lean. Some of the reasons for being fat are: you love eating and you’re consuming more than enough calories and your body is storing that fat for future use, your genetics are playing a part in gaining weight quickly and not being able to lose it, you’re not eating the right kind of foods, its water weight or you’re just bloated! I might have missed some but these are the main reasons.
We are going to focus on how those extra kilos or pounds are affecting your body.
Obesity, which broadly refers to excess body fat, has become an important public health problem. Its prevalence…. bla bla bla. You will find this sentence almost on every web-search that includes the word obesity. I will dive straight into the problems it is going to cause but before that how do you know if you’re obese or not? Do not look at your size, your weight and height will do this job for you. You can calculate your BMI (body mass index) by dividing your body weight in kilograms (Kg) by the square of your height in metres (m), as a surrogate measure of total body fat. Generally speaking according to the WHO guidelines, BMI of more than or equal to 30 kg/m2 refers to obese. Now if you do not want to do all this on your own there are plenty of BMI calculators out there online that can tell you if you are healthy, overweight or obese.
The problems obesity causes:
Diabetes Mellitus: The word “mellitus” means sweetened with honey in Latin. In this condition this word refers to sweet urine or sugar in urine. There are two types of diabetes mellitus and obesity is associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus. This type is the adult onset and is related to insulin resistance or lack of insulin. Insulin is the hormone that regulates the blood glucose levels and now that it is not working properly, the blood glucose levels rise which in the long run, can give rise to complications such as heart failure, stroke, diabetic retinopathy (retino- eye; pathy- disease) resulting in blindness. Kidney failure is also a complication of this condition.
Hypertension: This is a condition where the blood pressure in the arteries in constantly elevated. It typically does not cause any symptoms but can eventually lead to similar complications as mentioned above.
Dyslipidaemia: This is characterised by the reduction in HDL (High density lipoprotein) and increase in the LDL (Low density lipoprotein). What are these?? these are basically carriers of cholesterol in the body so they carry cholesterol to and from body cells. HDL is the good one because it carries the cholesterol away from the heart towards the liver (reducing the risk of heart problems) and LDL is the bad one which carries the cholesterol from the liver towards the heart (increasing the risk of heart problems). Why liver? because this is the site of production of cholesterol. Now, for the people who are still thinking how can cholesterol be good, let me explain. Cholesterol is not completely bad. The good cholesterol is actually helpful in the producing hormones, Vitamin D and digestive juices that help you breakdown your fat! If the levels of cholesterol in your body increase, it will cause fatty deposits in your blood vessels which will narrow them causing problems. The disfunction of these lipids will increase the chances of you getting cardiac problems.
Coronary artery disease: As discussed above, this is a complication of atherosclerosis which is the scientific term for cholesterol buildup in the arteries. This is the most common type of heart disease associated with obesity.
Cerebrovascular disease: There have been studies that show a relation of hemorrhagic and ischaemic shock to obesity. Hemorrhagic shock refers to reduced oxygen and nutrient supply to the tissue. Ischaemic shock refers to a condition where a blood clot blocks the blood vessels in the brain. The main condition associated with this is hypertension which causes narrowing of the arteries eventually causing less blood being supplied to the tissues. The increase in plaque buildup due to cholesterol can cause serious amounts of blood clots which causes ischaemia.
Metabolic syndrome: This basically refers to a cluster of conditions occurring together in your body increasing your risk at getting a stroke or a heart disease. These include the ones mentioned above : abnormal cholesterol levels, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, excess body fat etc.
Pulmonary abnormalities: These mainly include obstructive sleep apnea and asthma. Obstructive sleep apnea is characterised by obstruction of the upper respiratory tract and causes discomfort while sleeping. The reasons it is associated with obesity might be the direct impact of the increased fat tissue impugning the lumen or increased fat tissue that might collapse the airway. Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease characterised by obstruction of the lower respiratory tract causing difficulty in breathing. There are many reasons for which asthma might be related to obesity. One of it is airway hyper responsiveness caused by increased fat tissues leading to obstruction of the airway in response to non-specific stimuli. Another reason is that the the fat tissue cells (adipocytes) release a variety of factors that contribute in the systemic inflammation of the body to which the airway responds by contracting leading to decreased airflow.
Gastrointestinal abnormalities: These mainly include gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and cholelithiasis. The relation of GERD to obesity is such that the pressure of the adipose tissue in the abdominal area causes increased intra-abdominal pressure. Also, obese patients have a higher capacity to store gastric fluids. After a point this can become dangerous as gastric fluids are acidic in nature. These with some other factors cause corrosive or non-corrosive GERD. In this condition there is reflux of the stomach’s contents to the oesophagus causing symptoms like heartburn (NCBI, 2013)
Reproductive diseases: In females, obesity is highly associates with poly-cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and in men, it is associated with infertility and impotence. The reproductive features of PCOS include increased androgen (opposite hormone) production and disordered gonadotropin (hormone controlling reproductive organs) secretion leading to menstrual irregularity, hirsutism, and infertility. It is observed that these problems in men and women resolve with decreasing BMI. There is limited study on the relation of obesity to these problems but they are frequently observed in obese people (NCBI, 2007)
Psychosocial problems: Well, this one is obvious. The people around a person who is obese most likely tend to make fun of them or offend them knowingly or unknowingly. Studies show that obese females for example were found to be less likely to complete school, had a 20% less chance of getting married, earned less and had more household poverty in comparison to females that were not overweight. This works both ways actually. The problems of the society cause overeating and obesity and obesity causes the problems of the society. There are some psychiatric disorders related to obesity; these include obsessive compulsive disorder and phobia.
Osteoarthritis: This disorder mainly affects the joints and occurs due to the wearing down of the protective cartilage tissue that cushions the end of your bones as shown in the picture below.
The most simple reason for this to occur is the chronic overweight on the joints. Another reason can be the dysregulation of adipokines (hormones released form your adipose tissue) causing this condition.
Now, last but not the least:
Cancer: Obesity has been linked to many cancers including cancers of the gallbladder, esophagus, thyroid, kidney, uterus, colon and breast. The link is not completely clear but scientists believe it might be due to the increased oestrogen levels in females. I might also suspect that chronic inflammation of the body is playing a role in this.
So, what do you think? Is justifying yourself as “just bubbly” worth it? Is putting yourself through so much just so that you can enjoy eating your favourite foods worth it? I am not saying stay conscious all the time, that is just going to make you a boring person. Do what you like but balance it with what you might not like (exercise or nutritive veggies). Eat everything but eat the right portions and you should be just fine 🙂