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Why is obesity considered a chronic disease?

Why is obesity considered a chronic disease?

Before I dive into why… let’s first look at the definition of ‘disease’. This is from the Webster dictionary: 

‘A condition of the living animal or plant body or one of its parts that impairs normal functioning and is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms.’ 

In last week’s blog, we defined Obesity: ‘A condition that involves an excessive or abnormal amount of adipose (fat) tissue that poses a health risk.’ 

We know that excess adipose tissue can impair normal functioning and lead to other chronic diseases. Whether that is in a physical sense (making mobility difficult), a physiological sense (by increasing insulin resistance), or in a psychological sense (causing distress and anxiety). 

We also know that obesity is chronic and progressive. Similar to that of diabetes or high blood pressure. 

Do you know someone or have you yourself been able to lose weight and keep it off? Generally, most people who follow a particular diet or exercise plan tend to lose weight in the short term, but we eventually see the weight come back. In many cases, weight increases beyond what it was initially – leaving the individual heavier than when he/she started the given ‘diet’ and questioning: “How on earth will I ever stop gaining weight?” 

This phenomenon involves a complex interplay of multiple factors including but not limited to genetics, neurobiology, socioeconomic status, physiology, and environment. The bottom line is you may want to lose weight but YOUR BODY DOES NOT WANT YOU TO LOSE WEIGHT. It wants to hold onto as much energy (fat) as possible.  

Now, is this the case for everyone? No. Some people are able to lose weight and keep the weight off. A great example of this is the National Weight Control Registry (http://www.nwcr.ws/). Here the NWCR is tracking ~10,000 individuals who have lost a significant amount of weight and kept it off. What this group tells us is, while Obesity is complex and everyone is different, to lose weight we must find interventions and lifestyle changes that are sustainable… 

Check out this page showing some facts about the study. 

The reality of weight loss is whatever changes you implement need to be permanent. If it’s something you only plan to do for a short while – the weight will come back. The health issues you have will come back. The negative habits will not go away. 

There is no cookie-cutter approach that works for everyone. However, as I always say – your main focus must not be the number on the scale. It should always be on creating healthy behaviours and habits that you can sustain forever and ENJOY.   

If you’re curious about what strategies might work for you – book a free session with us and make a permanent shift towards that healthier life! 

– Dr. Dan 

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