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Facts and Myths about Obesity

by clepage
Facts and Myths about Obesity


Look what he’s done to himself. If only he had self-control, or wasn’t so lazy.”

In fact, obesity is a complex illness caused by your environment, genes, emotional health, lack of sleep, medical problems, or even some medication you might be on. For example, some medications decrease the ability of your body to burn energy, resulting in weight gain. Today, obesity is considered a chronic disease because of the complexity and the lifelong management obesity requires.


Managing obesity is easy. Just eat less and move more.”

If losing weight was so easy, nobody would be overweight. The fact is that most of us are. Only up to 20% (1 in 5) people who lose weight are able to keep it off…and many studies show that keeping the weight off is not without hard work! Even after surgery lost body weight can be regained. Why is lost body fat regained so easily? This is because your body tries to “defend” its fat reserves to maintain your highest weight. Though we do not fully understand how your body defends its weight, we know that your body can release hormones during weight loss to make you feel hungry. We also know that the body changes so it burns energy less effectively. Therefore, when you go on a diet or begin exercising, weight loss becomes progressively more difficult and the weight will come back as soon as you stop or reduce your efforts at keeping it off.


Maybe if—he—she exercised more she wouldn’t look like that

Though being sedentary can contribute to weight gain, many studies actually show that exercise alone is unlikely result in significant weight loss. Though exercise has a number of health benefits, unless there are dramatic increases in exercise training, significant weight is usually only lost with changes to the diet. Even with dietary changes, weight is difficult to lose because when eating habits go back to “the usual” weight is regained. Also, as previously mentioned, our bodies are programmed to try to hold on to that excess weight!


Just get surgery. Surgery is an easy fix for obesity. You’ll lose weight like magic!

No matter which way you look at it, losing weight takes effort. Weight loss surgery involves making the stomach smaller to limit food intake and sometimes, making the small intestines shorter to decrease the amount of food (and nutrients) entering the body.  After the surgery there can be severe gastrointestinal consequences with over consumption of food. The forced limitation of food can be very difficult emotionally. Though weight loss surgery is relatively effective, surgery of any kind has risks of short and long-term complications and mortality. That is why weight loss surgery is often limited to people with BMI over 40 kg/m2 or those with a BMI over 35 kg/mthat have conditions that can be helped with weight loss. Surgery is not always successful. Weight regain can occur in 10-20% of patients after 36 months.  Sometimes a second surgery, called a “revision” is also needed.


FAQ about Obesity

What proportion of the worldwide population have obesity?

In 2008, 1.5 billion adults were overweight (BMI >25 kg/m2).. Of these, over 200 million men and nearly 300 million women were obese (BMI >30 kg/m2).


What is the rate of growth of obesity worldwide?

Globally, obesity rates have more than doubled since 1980 from 5% to 10% in men and 8% to 14% in women.


How many people die of obesity-related illnesses worldwide?

At least 2.8 million people die each year globally, as a result of being overweight or obese.


What proportion of the Canadian population have obesity?

Over 60% of Canadians are overweight and almost one quarter are obese. One in four adults and one in 10 children in Canada are now living with obesity – about 6.3 million Canadians.


How many Canadians die of obesity-related illnesses?

Obesity is a major contributor to morbidity and mortality in the Canadian population. For instance, 61% to 74% of type 2 diabetes cases, 17% to 32% of osteoarthritis cases, 14% to 21% of colorectal cancers, 8% to 14% of depression cases, and 20% of premature deaths that occur in Canadian adults are estimated to be directly attributable to obesity.


What is obesity? Is obesity considered a disease?

Obesity is characterized by excess or abnormal body fat that can impair your health. Indeed obesity is recognized today as a chronic disease. Many organizations, including Obesity Canada, the Canadian Medical Association, the American Medical Association, and the World Health Organization now consider “obesity a disease” .


What are the causes of obesity? Is obesity just related to food and exercise?

Absolutely not. The popular belief is that obesity is only determined by what you eat and how much you exercise. The scientific community recognizes obesity as a complex illness caused by a number of different factors, including environment, genes, emotional health, lack of sleep, medical problems, or even some medications you may be on.


External links

Obesity is a sign – over‐eating is a symptom: an aetiological framework for the assessment and management of obesity (onlinelibrary.wiley.com)

Behavioral Predictors of Weight Regain after Bariatric Surgery (linkspringer.com)

The defence of body weight: a physiological basis for weight regain after weight loss (ncbi.nlm.gov)

Weight-Loss Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Weight-Loss Clinical Trials with a Minimum 1-Year Follow-Up (www.sciencedirect.com)

Bariatric Surgery (mayoclinic.org)