Guest Author - Dr. Denise Howard
Obesity is one of the top social concerns of our day. More than 1/3 of adults in the world suffers from this condition and it is estimated that the prevalence with be at 50% by 2030 if the current trend continues. Obesity alone is of no concern but the consequences of obesity are the focus. It is associated with an increased risk of chronic medical problems such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. It is a potentially preventable condition and an understanding of the factors that contribute to obesity is needed in order to plan prevention and interventions.
There are theories that imply a predisposition to obesity based on in utero exposure. Pregnancy conditions and other in utero exposure can impact the fetus’ medical future. Infants born to mothers who are diabetic or who gain excessive weight during pregnancy are at a higher risk of developing obesity as an adult. Other pregnancy factors include high pre-pregnancy weight and smoking. Breast fed infants are at lower risk of becoming obese. A mother’s care of herself and the baby during pregnancy and immediately post delivery plays a role in the risk of obesity in the future.
A lot of women note that pregnancy seems to be the tipping point for when weight gain becomes an issue. It is easy to gain excessive weight during pregnancy and more difficult to return to a normal weight postpartum. The challenges are many but typically are due to lack of time or motivation for physical activity. The weight gain becomes compounded over subsequent pregnancies resulting in obesity over time. Women who breast-feed their babies tend to return to a normal weight quicker and find that weight loss is much easier.
There are other life phases and events that contribute to weight gain. Menopause is a classic time. A woman’s metabolism slows down even more and losing weight is challenge. Weight loss regimens that worked in the past are not as effective and many struggle to even maintain a stable weight. The transitions from childhood to adolescents and to adulthood are other times women note challenges with weight.
There are also medications and certain medical conditions that contribute to weight gain; either directly or indirectly. Medical conditions such as Hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease are examples of endocrine disorders, which manifests with weight gain and obesity. Drugs used for depression, diabetes and epilepsy are also notable for contributing to weight challenges.
Life is full of transitions and phases. Many of the times contribute to weight gain and difficulty maintaining a healthy lifestyle. You should recognize these transition points and work even harder during these times to manage your weight, recognizing this effort will be rewarded in the future. Establishing a healthy lifestyle now, which includes regular exercise and a nutritious diet, will help you manage the challenges that may accompany these life events.
I hope this article has provided you with information that will help you make wise choices, so you may:
Live healthy, live well and live long!