Excess weight and obesity: what are the causes?

In 2016, the WHO (World Health Organisation) stated that more than 650 million adults around the world were overweight. In the majority of cases, the experts blame diet, but other factors exist which can explain excess weight and obesity. Seeing a Doctor will help determine these reasons and the methods to use to combat the disease.

Obesity, a multifactorial disease.

Currently, specialists define a patient’s type of excess weight by measuring their body mass index (BMI). This measurement shows if the individual is overweight or suffering from light, moderate or even morbid obesity. The causes of the disease are different depending on the person. They may be relative to their genetic predisposition, or socio-environmental factors such as pace of life, urban development not being very favourable for exercise and physical activity, or even the effects of stopping smoking.

Other health problems can also increase the risks of being overweight or obese. First of all, several hormones such as leptin, insulin, and sex and growth hormones, play a crucial role in the way the human metabolism functions. In particular, they have a direct influence on the sensation of hunger and the accumulation of body fat. When there is a hormonal disorder, fat storage is modified as the use of energy coming from food changes. This explains, among other reasons, why we gain weight.

Furthermore, a link exists between obesity and thyroid dysfunction. This small gland located in the front of the lower neck, secretes the T3 and T4 hormones, which help control metabolism and heart rhythm. In the case of hypothyroidism, also called underactive thyroid, these hormones are produced in much smaller quantities. This, in turn, slows down body functions and can cause a number of symptoms, including weight gain and the subsequent difficulty of losing weight.

Certain medicinal treatments are also partly to blame for weight gain and obesity. For example, medicines to treat depression, or corticosteroids (all requiring a medical prescription). Corticosteroids, used over a long period of time, can cause an increased appetite.  Moreover, they can disrupt the distribution of fat: the legs and arms get slimmer, whereas the neck and the abdomen increase in volume. Concerning antidepressants, a report by King’s College London stated that a long-term treatment can contribute to weight gain. In fact, experts are still studying the causes of weight gain in order to explain this phenomenon.

But what are the possible solutions?

Whatever is the cause of excess weight or obesity, the most important action to take is to organise an appointment with a doctor. The role of a medical doctor is to find the reasons behind your excess weight, and then to indicate the most appropriate methods to resolve the problem. For example, a surgeon would be able to give you advice on the different operations that exist:

  • Lipofilling remodels the volumes of the face and brings harmony to your body shape, by transferring fat from one part of the body to another to add volume to soft tissues;
  • Abdominoplasty is often carried out after substantial weight loss in order to remove surplus loose skin from the middle and lower abdomen;
  • Lower body lifts usually take place after substantial weight loss following a diet or bariatric surgery (gastric bypass surgery, sleeve gastrectomy, or gastric band). The operation includes an abdominoplasty or “tummy tuck” which makes the abdomen thinner and firmer, and a lipofilling to lift zones such as the thighs and buttocks.

Dr Natalie Rajao can provide you with a surgical procedure adapted to your needs and will guide you in your decision-making process.