According to the World Health Organization, around 650 million adults are estimated to suffer from obesity worldwide. But although obesity is a common disease, it is still surrounded by a number of misconceptions that make the disorder even harder to understand.
While the chronic medical issues associated with obesity have become common knowledge, many of these misconceptions still contribute to unfounded stigma about the disease. Here are 5 things you might not know about obesity (but should).
1. A slow metabolism causes obesity.
Metabolism is often blamed for weight gain (or weight loss), but in reality, it is simply the process in which the body converts food into energy, which is needed for basic vital processes like respiration and cell repair. Even when you are at a rest, your body is constantly using up energy.
A slow metabolism is a real thing, but it is actually a rare condition. Unlike the common misconception, it is not the culprit behind weight gain or obesity. On the contrary, obesity is a product of several factors. These include genetics and unhealthy lifestyle habits such as eating too much and getting too little exercise and sleep.
2. Laziness causes obesity.
Getting too little exercise is, indeed, a factor behind weight gain, but there is more to obesity than just having an inactive lifestyle. Quite surprisingly, studies show that there is not much difference between the number of steps taken daily by individuals who are obese and individuals with a more healthy weight.
Obesity is a much more complex issue and can be caused by a myriad of factors other than being sedentary. For instance, medication and mental illnesses can cause obesity. In other words, it is incorrect to assume that a heavier individual is “lazy” or doesn’t exercise.
3. Obesity can be solved by simply eating less.
If obesity can be solved by simply consuming less calories, then there would be fewer individuals suffering from obesity. Similar to what has been mentioned earlier, obesity is the result of several factors. Hence, it is incorrect to assume that eating less (or dieting) can solve the problem brought about by a number of causes.
Diet and exercise are important components of a healthy lifestyle, but it is also crucial to also look at the other factors such as chronic diseases or medical disorders, hormonal problems, and mental stress. It doesn’t stop here either because one individual’s issues can be completely different from another’s. In order to treat obesity, one should receive personalized help that addresses their specific needs.
4. A person with obese parents is surely to become obese.
Genetics is a huge factor to consider when it comes to understanding healthy weight as well as health issues like obesity. This means that a person’s likelihood to develop obesity is higher if they have close relatives who are also obese. However, it is also incorrect to point to genetics as the sole culprit behind obesity.
While the likelihood of developing obesity is higher because of genetic influences, it is as important to point out that many people never become obese in spite of their genes. For a person to become obese, several factors need to come together: genetics, dietary habits, and general lifestyle.
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