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Obesity: Pathophysiology, Causes and Treatment

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Body fat is stored as an energy storage for the body and is used to prolong survival if and individual is faced with food deprivation (Harvey & Wither,2008). In order for the body to function well the it needs a certain amount of body fat (Harvey & Wither,2008). In spite of that having excessive amounts of body fat can put you at risk of developing many health problems and diseases (Harvey & Wither,2008). This being obesity which is one of the most concerning health problems across the world. It can increase the risk of so many chronic disease as well (Harvey & Wither,2008). Some being diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiration disease, osteoarthritis and many more (Harvey & Wither,2008). Small imbalances over a long period can cause the body to become over weight and obese (Harvey & Wither,2008). Obesity is not only increasing in young children and adolescents as well and is known to be one of the world’s biggest killers (Haslam & Wittert,2009). Obesity affects over 20-25% of the population (Haslam & Wittert,2009). The World Health Organization suggests the use of the body mass index as a standard tool with diagnosing someone with Obesity (Harvey & Wither,2008). This is an estimated measurement of body size and it is used to demonstrate the level of risk you are at for having obesity and how severe it can be on an individual’s health (Harvey & Wither,2008). BMI is calculated by diving the individual’s weight in kilograms by the individual’s height in metres square (Harvey & Wither,2008). People who have a BMI of 25 or more go under the classification of overweight (Harvey & Wither,2008). People who have a BMI of 30 or over go under the classification of obese (Harvey & Wither,2008). The BMI calculations play a very important role in indicating if an individual is at risk of becoming overweight and or obese (Harvey & Wither,2008). The BMI indicates a reasonable estimate of body fat but doesn’t measure the exact body fat an individual has (Harvey & Wither,2008). Athletes with mass amounts of muscle may come under the obesity category due to their body weight being high. Obesity can increase the risk of so many chronic disease (Harvey & Wither,2008).

Pathophysiology of Obesity

Pathophysiology is the study of the changes of a human’s body caused by a disease or an abnormal syndrome (Gadde et al .,2018). Our understanding of how obesity changes and grows has developed over the years, but its aetiology and physiopathology is yet to be understood (Gadde et al .,2018). Yet knowing how obesity can be stopped there are many scientific factors that may be linked to changing obesity for good that we are yet to be aware of (Gadde et al .,2018). Multiple etiologic causes are responsible for the development of obesity from the environmental factors, that are acting on specific genetic backgrounds, that play an important role (Gadde et al .,2018).. Although the main pathophysiology of obesity includes the lack of the central regulation of the energy balance with shifts in the neuro-chemical and feedback signalling. This then can produce an unsuitable expansion of adipose organ with the increasing hyper production of adipokines (Gadde et al .,2018).This is how excessive fat within the body is produced (Gadde et al .,2018). The increase of adiposity in the body also leads to diabetes hypertension, and cardiovascular disease (Gadde et al .,2018). Obesity is one of the biggest contributors to health in today’s modern society (Gadde et al .,2018). It has the potential to impact the economical society as it can cause disability to our working population (Harvey & Wither,2008) .It can cause many individuals to become unemployed and it can then lead to an individual becoming more overweight (Harvey & Wither,2008). Obesity links to a variety of diseases and health problems which can often lead to death (Harvey & Wither,2008) .Some of the health problems that can be linked to obesity are diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease and many others (Harvey & Wither,2008) .Obesity can result in having difficulty with respiration function due to the amount of body fat that surrounds the bodies organs (Harvey & Wither,2008) .This can then affect the individual’s chances of performing physical activity (Harvey & Wither,2008) .Which then causes the individual to not continue. It can also result in complications with women giving birth or being able to fall pregnant (Harvey & Wither,2008)It can reduce the safety of nearly all types of contraception, and it can cause men to become infertile (Harvey & Wither,2008) .It also can cause individuals to be at risk of developing osteoarthritis of the knee joint. The result of physical activity does drastically improve the symptoms that are linked with obesity (Harvey & Wither,2008).

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Cause of Obesity

Studies have shown that there are over 600 different genes, markers and chromosomal regions that are linked to obesity (Harvey & Wither,2008). A tiny amount of these have been recently described as monogenic obesity syndromes, which include leptin and leptin receptors disfigurement (Harvey & Wither,2008). Which have been linked to severe early onset obesity (Harvey & Wither,2008) . One other group which have direct links to obesity are Bardet-Biedl and Prader-Willi syndromes, which are the loss of functions due to specific genes (Harvey & Wither,2008). One of the biggest cause of obesity is binge eating (BED) (Munsch & Beglinger, 2005). There are many eating disorders that contribute to unhealthy weigh control(Munsch & Beglinger, 2005). It is very prevalent within the adolescent community which can cause individuals to be at risk of developing a disorder(Munsch & Beglinger, 2005). Binge eating is one of the most common eating disorders within the adult community(Munsch & Beglinger, 2005). This disorder can affect the both the individuals mental and physical health(Munsch & Beglinger, 2005).. Binge eating is described as an individual continuously eating mass amounts of food without stopping(Munsch & Beglinger, 2005).. Individuals that has this disorder tend to become obese a lot quicker than those who don’t(Munsch & Beglinger, 2005). Individuals who suffer for BED many tend to lose and gain weight quite often(Munsch & Beglinger, 2005). These binge eating incidents normally consist of high sugar, fat and salt foods and they tend to be low in those vitamins and minerals that the body needs. This is how binge eating cause obesity(Munsch & Beglinger, 2005).

Signs and Symptoms

Both the signs and the symptoms of having obesity are very similar in which that are both easily spotted (Haslam & Wittert,2009). There are multiple signs and symptoms that link to obesity because there are a string of health issues that will follow, before being diagnosed with obesity (Haslam & Wittert,2009).. These signs consist of lower back pain, osteoarthritis of the knee, hypertension, loss of breath, increased signs of sweating, inability to complete physical activity, low confidence and feeling alone and isolated, and various other conditions linked to the heart(Haslam & Wittert,2009). When looking for signs of an obese individual you should listen for shortness of breath, often if people suffer from being obese, they will find it difficult to breath due to the amount of fat that may surround their lungs this can also be linked to snoring and having sleep apnea which is a sleeping disorder that is caused by the walls of an individual’s throat being closed and or blocked off while sleeping(Haslam & Wittert,2009). Osteoarthritis of the knee is common amongst those who suffer with obesity(Haslam & Wittert,2009). Due to the massive amounts of pressure being put on the knees, and ankles, the joints over time will start to wear down(Haslam & Wittert,2009). Excessive sweating is a common sign of being obese as the body is working at a faster rate to cool down the body(Haslam & Wittert,2009). Diabetes is a symptom that can come from having been obese for a certain amount of time(Chatterjee et al.,2017). Type 2 diabetes is developed when an individual’s body becomes resistant to insulin or when the individual’s pancreas cannot produce enough insulin for the body(Chatterjee et al.,2017). The increase of childhood obesity has caused a rise in type 2 diabetes in adults. Type 2 diabetes also contributes to having high blood sugar levels which can also lead to having increased risk of a heart disease or a stroke(Chatterjee et al.,2017).. Having high levels of cholesterol can also put an individual at risk of having a heart disease (Chatterjee et al.,2017). This is caused by the fatty deposits that get trapped in your blood vessels, which link to many cardiovascular diseases (Chatterjee et al.,2017).

Treatments for Obesity

There are no easy treatments for obesity. The individual will have to make many lifestyle changes in order to no longer be obese. Weight lose training is one of the biggest treatments that an obese person can take. Things from walking more to eating less can contribute to weigh loss and these things can be challenging at the start but in the long run the health benefits will be massive for the individual(Padwal & Majumdar, 2007) Fasting has proven to be other lifestyle change which can drastically improve weight loss (Mathus-Vliegen & de Groot, 2012). Results show that individuals who underwent a fasting trial in the end reduced their food intake (Mathus-Vliegen & de Groot, 2012). Studies have shown some antiobesity treatments get recommended to those individuals that’s lifestyle changes did not work(Padwal & Majumdar, 2007) . Orlistat, which is a gastrointestinal lipase inhibitor, which is proven to reduce an individual’s weight by 3kgs on average(Padwal & Majumdar, 2007). Bariatric surgey is another surgical alternative that an obese individual can undertake.

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Obesity: Pathophysiology, Causes and Treatment. (2022, Jun 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 4, 2023, from
“Obesity: Pathophysiology, Causes and Treatment.” Edubirdie, 09 Jun. 2022,
Obesity: Pathophysiology, Causes and Treatment. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 4 Dec. 2023].
Obesity: Pathophysiology, Causes and Treatment [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 09 [cited 2023 Dec 4]. Available from:
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