representative sample of 1509 people were included in the study in a bid to
understand an American's view on being overweight.
The study found that a
large proportion of people still held onto the outdated belief that an obese
person needs to work on willpower to lose weight - control diet and increase
exercises. Obesity †researcher Dr Donna Ryan
states that this amounts to stigmatizing the individual, preventing support and
help, though people with alcohol problems are treated with far more concern.
What Causes Obesity?
Obesity, or weight gain
, is due to an energy
imbalance, when there is more food consumed than work done, the additional
energy is stored in the body as fat. While this directly relates to the eating
behavior of the individual, associating it with willpower would be too
Obesity risks are
- Diet: The calories consumed play a very important role in
weight gain and the number of calories required depends on the age of the
individual and the activity level.
Activity: Physical activity includes
exercises, energy spent commuting to work, whether it is a desk job or it
involves moving around. Any activity that uses the energy consumed.
- Genes: Just like the need to procreate, the risk for diseases
or even how tall you will turn out to be, is determined by a set of genes.
Willpower or Genes
In the study it was
found that 94% of people who were obese tried to lose
weight either by following a diet or by exercising. Out of which
- Quarter of these people attempted 5 to 9 times to lose
- 15% had attempted more than 20 times.
The number of
unsuccessful attempts by these people showed that there was no lack of
willpower but an underlying factor that prevented them from losing weight.
There are numerous
studies that point towards inflammation that increases the risk of
obesity or mutation in certain genes
FTO genes. The ability of the body to store fat is directed by the genes with
the view that the body would utilize this stored energy reserve during a famine
or long periods of starvation. During evolution, there was probably active
selection of these survival genes that lead to fat storage.
Greater awareness needs to be created about the
genetic basis of weight gain and the need to find the right intervention
strategies which could promote weight loss.