OBESITY AND HORMONES

Obesity and Hormones

Which Hormones Affect Weight and Obesity, Medical Conditions Associated With Obesity, Medications Which May Help Control Obesity

Obesity and Hormones

We all have heard it many times: the obesity epidemic, which affects more than two thirds (67%) of the Australian adults and costs the country hundreds of billions of dollars every year, is a result of increased intake of energy-rich foods and decreased exercise and physical activity. In other words, if people ate fewer Big Macs and jogged more, there wouldn’t be as many obese people in the world. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines obesity as “abnormal or excessive fat- accumulation in the body that might increase the risk to health”. In the medical field, doctors use a handy tool, the BMI or Body Mass Index to assess if a person is obese for their sex, age, and height. BMI is calculated by considering a person’s weight and height. If a person has a high (30.0 – 39.9) body-mass-index (BMI), he/she is considered obese. 

Obesity may be linked to poor diet habits and lack of physical activity to some extent, but it is not just about energy balance, i.e. calories in v/s calories out, it is much more complex.  Researchers now agree that hormones and genes also play an important role in obesity. Instead of treating it as an energy-balance disorder, researchers now regard it as a “metabolic defect”, and blame some specific hormones. The linkage between obesity and hormones has been studied extensively in the recent years. Researchers are now convinced that certain hormones such as insulin, leptin, growth hormones, and sex hormones play an important role in obesity and an increase in body weight. These hormones play a significant role in metabolism, body fat distribution, appetite, and body fat storage. So, which hormones affect weight and obesity and how do we treat obesity.

Which Hormones Affect Weight and Obesity

Hormones are chemical messengers produced by endocrine glands and secreted directly into the bloodstream. Hormones play an important role in a wide range of essential functions in the body. From the rapid, awkward changes we experience at puberty to regulating metabolism and making us fall asleep, without the hormones we would never grow, reproduce, or digest. 

Excess or a deficit of any of the hormones secreted by the endocrine system can harm the body. Researchers have found that obese people have elevated levels of certain hormones in the body that encourage abnormal metabolism and the accumulation of body fat. Obesity, in turn, can also lead to changes in the bodies hormones. 

Here is a list of some hormones that play an important role in the metabolism, appetite and body fat distribution, and are linked with obesity:

  • Insulin 
  • Androgens
  • Leptin
  • Growth hormones, and 
  • Oestrogens

Medical Conditions Associated with Obesity

Obesity and weight gain is not simply a cosmetic problem; healthcare professionals now regard it as a serious health hazard as it is linked to several serious medical conditions. People who are obese are twice as likely to die prematurely as a normal weight person. Some of the important medical conditions associated with obesity are listed below:

  • Heart Diseases (hypertension, stroke, coronary heart diseases)
  • High LDL cholesterol
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Gallbladder disease & gallstones
  • Gout
  • Sleep apnea
  • Some cancers (live, kidney, gallbladder, breast, colon, or endometrial)
  • Mental Illness (depression, anxiety)

Not all obese people experience these medical conditions, but the risk rises for those who are more obese and those with a family history of any of those illnesses. The good news is that losing a fraction of the extra body weight can significantly reduce your chances of facing any serious health issues down the line. 

Medications Which May Help Control Obesity

Gaining weight is easy and quick but losing weight is not. Losing weight is a long term commitment and demands a lot of patience. Fortunately, a number of weight loss strategies are available. If you want to lose weight, you need to first make up your mind and be serious about it and then find an appropriate strategy that works for you. It is always a good idea to visit your GP or healthcare provider to seek some professional advice before making any significant changes to your lifestyle or diet plan. Here are some of the ways to treat obesity:

  • Dietary Programs
  • Exercise Programs
  • Public Policy
  • Medications
  • Behavioral Therapy
  • Hormonal Treatment
  • Surgery

Medications to Control/Treat Obesity and Hormones

Although changes in lifestyle and diet plans is the best and safest course for people who want to lose weight, if these weight loss strategies fail, you may wish to discuss other medical and surgical treatments with your doctor.

Southbank Medical Centre
Doctor Melbourne