Why is unhealthy weight a disease?
Why is Unhealthy Weight a Disease?
Unhealthy weight (both overweight and obesity) is a disease which causes other diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, bad cholesterol, cancer(s), stroke, and heart attacks.
Patients with an unhealthy weight have changed part of the brain that controls energy and appetite. As a result, patients have a higher weight set point.
When patients (with healthy or unhealthy weight) reduce their daily caloric balance through diet or exercise (or both), the pro-appetite hormone, ghrelin, increases and appetite-suppressing hormones such as leptin decrease. The increase in ghrelin and decrease in appetite-suppressing hormones further increases hunger-signaling to brain; leading to patients eating more calories. This pro-hungry (HANGRY) state is a normal response to caloric balance reductions. (Think of the Snickers commercial with Marilyn Monroe and William Dafoe). In the short term, people can voluntarily ignore this pro-hungry signal and lose weight. Some lucky people will be able to maintain their weight loss beyond 1 year. Unfortunately for most people, they will eventually give into the pro-hungry/HANGRY hormone signals and regain their weight (yo-yo effect).
How does Weight Gain Occur/Reoccur?
Do I Lack the Will Power?
Our team understands these neurohormonal changes and the frustrations of our patients with unhealthy weight. Unhealthy weight is NOT a disease of will power. Many patients and health-care professionals still carry this very weight-bias that those patients with unhealthy weight can simply use will-power. Ironically, many health-care professionals also suffer from unhealthy weight and blame themselves, often using only 50 percent of the solution - "I just need to eat less and exercise more". If losing and maintaining weight loss were so easy, then 70-80 percent of Americans would not suffer from a BMI in the overweight and obese range.