This week the UK sadly passed 100,000 as the number of deaths attributed to coronavirus. I read an article describing some of the reasons why we have been so badly hit, and one of those reasons was that the UK has one of the highest rates of obesity in the world. This is shocking – as we know, obesity leads to a plethora of physical illnesses and diseases, not to mention unhappiness and depression. So why do we have such a high rate, and what can we do about it? It's well accepted that reduced physical activity and fast food are linked to obesity. But the evidence that these are the main causes of obesity is largely circumstantial, and the International Journal of Obesity has outlined 10 other possible causes. #1 Lack of Sleep Getting too little sleep can increase body weight. Insomnia is an epidemic in itself and it alone can be responsible for not just obesity, but a host of other illnesses too. Start sleeping like a baby and you're likely to feel less hungry as your hormones balance themselves and to lose some weight.
#2 Pollution Hormones which control body weight can be affected by many of today’s pollutants. #3 Air-conditioning Yes, air conditioning can prohibit weight loss! If your environment is too hot or cold, your body burns more calories – but temperature-controlled homes and offices keep our temperature stable so we burn fewer calories. #4 Decreased smoking Smoking reduces appetite and people smoke much less than they used to – and while this adds to the obesity statistics, it isn’t a reason to start smoking! There are many more positives to stopping or not starting at all! #5: Medicine Weight gain can be a side effect of many drugs including contraceptives, steroids, hormones, diabetes drugs, some antidepressants and blood pressure drugs – and prescriptions for these types of drugs is, sadly, growing. #6: Population age Middle-aged and older people tend to be more obese than their younger friends, and the world’s population is getting older.
#7: Older mums Women are giving birth at older ages and there’s some evidence that the older a woman is when she gives birth, the higher her child’s risk of obesity.
#8: Ancestors’ environment Some influences may go back two generations. Environmental changes that caused a grandparent to be obese may cause obesity for their grandchild through a ‘fetally-driven positive feedback loop’.
#9: Fertility There's some evidence that obese people are more fertile than lean ones. If obesity has a genetic component, the percentage of obese people in the population will increase. #10: Unions of obese partners Obese women can tend to partner obese men, and if obesity has a genetic component, there will be more obese people in the next generation. These other contributing factors deserve more attention and study. Even more explanations include: a genetic component; a fat-inducing virus; increases in childhood depression; less consumption of dairy products; and hormones used in agriculture. What do you think some causes might be?