What is obesity

Although we often think of obesity in terms of weight, weight per se is not really a good measure to use. You can be overweight and not truly be obese, and on the other hand, you can be reasonably close to your "normal" weight and be overly fat. When we speak of obesity, we are talking about the excess storage of body fat.

What is obesity? Although there are a number of reasons why your body would take calories coming into it and store them away when you already have more than enough calories stored in the form of body fat, one of the most common reasons in Western society (and that includes you and us in the good old U.S.A.) centers around an inherited tendency to overproduce the hormone insulin when we eat certain kinds of food. We all produce insulin in response (primarily) to dietary starch and sugars. When we eat these things, our bodies absorb them, and our blood sugars rise, and that sends a signal to the pancreas to release insulin to bring the elevated blood sugar down by driving into our cells to be used or stored. Insulin does its work, falls back to normal, and that's the end of it until the next time we cat. At least, that's how it's supposed to happen.

What is obesity Some people, however, inherit a tendency to produce too much insulin when they eat starchy or sugary foods, and although the insulin does its job in controlling the rise of blood sugar (sometimes too good a job, producing too low a blood sugar), the excess insulin doesn't fall quickly back down to normal. It's always hanging around, elevated long after the meal. The problem, in this instance, occurs because insulin does more than just regulate blood sugar. It also happens to be a very potent signal in the metabolism to store fat. When insulin levels are high, that should mean (if everything were working properly) you've just eaten a big meal and need to store some of it away for later. Let us illustrate why this should be.

What is obesity? Envision yourself dressed in animal skins, living 40,000 years ago on the savannahs of Ethiopia. Eating dinner doesn't mean running down to the local fast-food emporium, it means running down your food—on foot. When you were fortunate enough to have a big meal, having a metabolic means to store the extra calories (ones you couldn't use right away) would be a great help, since it might be a day or two or even three before you could eat a big meal again. Insulin filled a critical survival need for humankind then.

The problem, nowadays, is that it's more like three hours between meals instead of three days, and for those of us who readily produce too much insulin in response to a starchy meal, a few hours is hardly enough time for that insulin to have returned to zero. In these cases, insulin is always elevated to some degree. After a time, the sensors in the tissues that respond to the insulin and allow the blood sugar to go into the tissues become accustomed to the higher level of insulin they're always exposed to, and they quit responding to it. But your pancreas will respond to the challenge by making more insulin to meet the need and the levels of insulin climb higher. The sensors become accustomed to the higher level, the pancreas produces more, and so on, until even without food, your insulin may be 2, 3, 4, or even 8 or 10 times normal. (In some people the high insulin causes a cluster of problems, including high blood pressure, too little "good" cholesterol, and sugar intolerance, a condition called "Syndrome X")

What is obesity? A high insulin level signals the fat cells to store, store, store! If all were working properly, it would only be high because lots of calories were coming in that needed to be stored. The irony is that in these cases the insulin level is high on no food at all and goes even higher when you eat. Is it any wonder, under these circumstances, that a body already overburdened with stored fat would continue to store? It's being told to by out-of-control insulin.

What can you do to reverse this process? Let's see in obesity diet.

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