This book on obesity has been written in a very different way-not those typical "Textbook type"-which preaches high and mighty things. This book has been written not in the usual format of "cause-effect-treatment". When we are in the house we get to eat only what is the kitchen but when we go to a cafeteria, we can get whatever we want, and of there is also the advantage of self-service. This book has been written in a cafeteria approach. Whatever one wants one can have it. Though the initial chapters briefly delineate the definitions, causes, ways to tackle obesity, once the discussion shifts to diet, exercise, research findings and special cases (pregnancy or childhood overweight) the approach is reader friendly or interactive. Illustration of pictures; snippets from fairy tales, mythology; album on obesity, have all been added to generate interest, curiosity, of awareness among readers. Students, children, common man, doctors or housewives-everybody will have something of his interest in this book.
Certain Basic Principles Obesity means deposit of excess fat in the body. It is caused by ingestion of greater amounts of food that can be utilised by the body for energy. The excess food whether fats, carbohydrates or proteins, is then stored as fat in the adipose tissue to be used later for energy. It will be interesting to know that strains of rats have been found in which hereditary obesity occurs. In at least one of these strains the obesity is caused by ineffective mobilization of fat from the adipose tissue while synthesis and storage of fat continue normally. Obviously such a one-way process causes progressive enhancement of the fat stores, resulting in severe obesity!
When greater quantities of energy (in the form of food) enter the body than are expended, the body weight increases. Therefore, obesity is obviously caused by an excess energy input over energy output. For each 9.3 calories of excess energy entering the body 1 gram of fat is stored.
Excess energy input occurs only during the developing phase of obesity, and once a person has become obese all that is required to remain obese is that the energy input equals the energy output. For the person to reduce weight, the input must be less than the output. Indeed studies of obese persons have shown that the intake of food in most of them in the static stage of obesity (after the obesity has already been attained) is approximately the same as that for normal persons.
About one-third of the energy used each day by the normal person goes into muscular activity and in the laborers as much as two-thirds or occasionally three-fourths is used in this way. Since muscular activity is by far the most important means by which energy is expended in the body, it is frequently said that obesity results from too high a ratio of food intake to daily exercise.
It is a known fact that the rate of feeding is normally regulated in proportion to the nutrients store in the body. When these stores begin to reach an optimal level in a normal person, feeding is automatically reduced to prevent over storage. However, in many obese persons this is not true, for feeding does not slacken until body weight is far above normal. Therefore, in effect, obesity is often caused by an abnormality of the feeding regulatory mechanism. This can result from many factors which will be discussed in subsequent chapters.
Having defined obesity in so many words it is important to know what is the exact opposite of obesity. 'Inanition' is the opposite of obesity. In addition to inanition caused by inadequate availability of food, various Psychogenic and hormonal causes can on occasion cause greatly decreased feeding. One such condition 'Anorexia Nervosa' is an abnormal psychic state in which a person loses all desire for food and even becomes nauseated by it; as a result inanition occurs. Certain destructive lesions of the hypothalamus (regulation centre of brain) cause a condition called Cachexia. The term simply means severe Inanition.
Cause for Concern
Obesity is defined as being 20% or more over ideal body weight. It increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes. It is known to cause serious health problems. Increasing body weight is associated with increasing blood cholesterol levels, high BP and decreased levels of HDL (good cholesterol) and physical inactivity. According to the National Centre for Health Statistics BMI is recommended to be not more than 25. If BMI exceeds 25 there is an increased risk of developing heart disease and other illnesses associated with being overweight!
Did she have Anorexia or Bulemia Nervosa?
The late Princess Diana was often said to be suffering from Anorexia Nervosa. In fact, her complete lack of desire for food was attributed to Bulemia, a condition characterised by eating and later vomiting-a kind of psychic state.
The cycles of eating and purging are self-induced. Diana also had water treatment or hydrotherapy every week when she took litres and litres of water (as enema) to clear and cleanse her system!
How much of all these were true and how much were rum ours, only God knows!
Recent studies link anorexia nervosa and polycystic ovarian disease. A lot of new and important information on this topic is being published in medical journals.
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