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Obesity is a very complex disease and the causes of the community obesity epidemic and obesity in any given person are slowly being unraveled. We now know that our genes are very important and how our genes interact with our environment is critical. Unfortunately you cannot influence your DNA and how your genes are influenced by the current obesogenic environment was influenced by your mother's pregnancy and your very early interaction with your environment. Your path to having a lifelong battle with your weight was set up before entering school and certainly by secondary school. It's not something you planned, designed or brought upon yourself. This may surprise you! It's not an issue of your lack of willpower or loss of control.
You know the aspects of the modern environment that have set this up: ready access to attractive processed tasty foods, sedentary lifestyles with oodles of screen time, machines to do everything, and really no need to move much unless you are so inclined. In addition lack of sleep, stresses of modern life and family, and the "must haves' of modern life do not help. We see this epidemic everywhere people aspire to the modern dream. Prevention of obesity will take a whole of society change, an environmental makeover. We haven't started to think about how this can be done in society so it's easier to simply blame those who are obese for their lifestyle choice – such a community cop out. It is so wrong!
Unfortunately this toxic environment also makes us sick, not only causing obesity but its associated serious disease such as high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep problems, depression, along with an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and many cancers. It causes mobility problems, damages joints and generates a wide range of psychological issues leading to a very poor quality of life for many. This, of course, is only aggravated by the stigmatization and discrimination directed at those suffering the condition by all levels of society. This bias and stigmatization is not only aimed at those afflicted by this serious condition but also to treatment which can be very effective!
We now know just why you find it very difficult to lose weight. Despite the best will in the world our bodies carefully defend against weight loss. Losing weight sends out a clear survival message which makes many metabolic systems act together to "protect" us from further weight loss and help us regain the lost weight. The more we lose the more powerful the response. This is why even if we can lose weight it goes back on naturally and it's very hard to keep off – regardless of our best intentions.
Associate Professor.John Dixon - Baker IDI & Senior Consultant to LapSurgery Australia
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