Is Obesity An Eating Disorder?

In a world that is obsessed with the perfect body, thinness, and youth, anyone who is carrying excess weight feels doomed to the dark places of low self-esteem and being ostracized.

Who Is Obese?

Depending upon where one stands in the scheme of things, obesity can mean different things. A person who suffers with anorexia nervosa may well believe that a weight gain of three to five pounds qualifies as obesity. A woman who is post-menopausal and carrying fifteen pounds more than she did at age 30 on her five-foot-four frame may feel she is obese. A young woman who is rejected by a modeling agency because she is a somewhat underweight five-foot-six woman weighing 130 pounds probably feels like the Goodyear blimp. Truth told, none of these situations are considered bona fide obesity scenarios.

Doctors consider obesity to be an excess of 20 percent over the expected weight for age, height, and body build. When a person is more than 100 pounds over the expected weight for age, height, and body build, then they are considered morbid or malignant obese. Today, the criteria for expected weight has changed to include more pounds per height as a result of research that indicates people live longer if they carry more weight than is considered to be "fashionable".

The Numbers Are Increasing Yearly

In the United States, the numbers of people who are obese are alarming and increasing yearly. In 2004, the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine indicated that 31 percent of girls and 28 percent of boys in the US are overweight, with 15 percent of girls and 14 percent of boys being obese. They attribute this stunning statistic to fast food, high sugar and fat snacks, more time in front of computers and television and less time being active. It doesn't matter what segment of society you select, the numbers of overweight and obese people are climbing.

What Causes It?

So, what causes obesity? As with any type of weight gain, the standard rule of measure is more calories into the body than expended by the body. With the increase in empty calorie snacks and food consumption, increased visits to restaurants and fast-food chains and less time spent preparing nutritious meals at home, people are gaining weight. Sedentary lifestyles and easy-to-prepare high-calorie, low food-value meals combine to create a recipe for disaster for many Americans.

People use food to numb their pain or escape an unpleasant situation. Various emotional reasons, including such things as loneliness and depression, cause people to eat when they aren't hungry. When people go onto prolonged, low-calorie diets in a bid to become thinner, they often end up starving and ultimately binge-eating. They gain back all of the weight they lost plus another ten pounds or more.

Physical Malfunctions And Stress, Added Issues

Sometimes biological reasons contribute to obesity. A thyroid gland or pituitary gland that is not functioning correctly can cause weight gain. Disabilities or physical problems may also hinder activity which can, in turn, set the stage for obesity.

On top of all of these causes, there is research which upholds the idea that stress can cause people to overeat. Seeking comfort in high-calorie, sugar-laden foods, ingested when the body is in stress, means that the calories are quickly converted to fat. Indeed, our "modern" lifestyle contributes greatly to the obesity of the nation.

The Risks Of Obesity

The health risks associated with obesity are myriad and dangerous. High blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes, heart disease, cancer, gallbladder disease, breathing and lung issues, arthritis, problems with conception and carrying a pregnancy, endocrine problems and ultimately, premature death are all associated with obesity.

Is obesity an eating disorder? The answer is, yes.

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