Am I Obese Because Of My Genetics?
Credits: The Financial
Obesity is a medical condition that has become prominent among Singaporeans, proven by the increasing obesity rates in the country within the past few years. Sadly, many people still see it as more of a failure to comply with unrealistic beauty standards than a genuine medical issue.
There is still a social stigma against people who are obese. They still garner judgemental looks and comments from the people around them. Due to the negativity surrounding how they look physically, many become discouraged from believing that they can do something to better their health. They tend to resist seeking medical help, undergo weight loss treatments, and address their situation entirely.
A thing people should realize is that obesity is not just about physical appearance and vanity. It is a threat to one’s health. Prolonged obesity can lead to the development of metabolic conditions such as hypertension, heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, cancer, lung problems, and many more.
Moreover, obesity is not always a result of not taking care of one’s self. It is a common occurrence due to unhealthy diets and lack of physical activity, but there’s more to it than those two. Being obese can also come down to genetics, environment, and behaviour.
Genetics on Becoming Obese
We can attribute the lack of good diet and exercise as to why some of us gain excessive weight. With that said, being obese can be a conversation about genetics.
If obesity is prevalent in the family, maybe it runs in the blood. Genetics contribute to 40-70% of obesity cases, with more than 50 genes strongly associated with the condition. One of these genes is the fat mass and obesity-associated gene (FTO), which is found in up to 43% of the population. Matched with unhealthy lifestyle choices, the presence of the gene can do the following:
- It increases your hunger levels, making you eat more frequently and, thus, increasing your calorie intake.
- It reduces your food satisfaction and makes you lose control over your eating habits.
- It increases your tendency to be sedentary and remain inactive, allowing your body to store fat.
A family history of obesity can mean that you have a higher “set point” of developing the condition. It means that your body instinctively tries to attain a higher level of body fat than others. As a result, obese people tend to have a hard time shedding off their weight through traditional diet and exercise. It is also easy for them to gain back the weight they lost once they stop their routine.
Despite that, genetics alone cannot be blamed for being obese. Inherited obesity caused by a specific variant of a single gene (monogenic obesity), while it may happen, is rare. It is more likely that it results from complex interactions among multiple genes and environmental factors (multifactorial obesity). Even with the absence of genetics, growing up in an environment with obese parents allows children to mimic their behaviour regarding food and physical activity.
Being Obese in Singapore
Credits: Yahoo News Singapore
On a micro level, obesity can be pointed out as an individual case of family genetics. On a macro level, it speaks to a more significant issue concerning the whole nation and its attitude towards addressing it.
As mentioned earlier, obesity has become a prevalent issue in Singapore. Based on the 2017 National Population Health Survey, the prevalence of obesity among adults (aged 18 to 59 years) in Singapore was 8.9%. At the same time, 6.9% of senior citizens (aged 60 to 74 years) are categorized as obese. In general, 4.5 out of 10 Singaporeans are at risk of developing the condition.
Obesity is commonly measured through one’s Body Mass Index (BMI). A BMI of 25 to 30 is considered overweight. On the other hand, a BMI of more than 30 is categorized as obese, while a BMI of more than 40 is already considered morbidly obese. A high BMI makes you susceptible to the development of various health complications.
Having said that, people of Asian descent have different genetics to other races. Asian people tend to form diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, despite having a BMI below the obese bracket or the same as their healthy Caucasian counterparts. So, they should have more awareness regarding the causes of obesity and how to treat it.
Treatments for Obesity
Treatment for being obese due to genetics is a far-fetched conversation. As mentioned, there are other factors you can target to manage or prevent obesity besides genetics. As the condition becomes more common among Singaporeans, there are wider options out there on how you can treat it. Here are some of the common ways to lose excessive weight:
- Weight Loss Balloons
As most people diagnosed with obesity belong in the workforce, not all of them have the time and resources to approach weight loss traditionally. Luckily, there are alternative solutions available out there that can help you achieve the same results. One of those options is weight loss balloons.
As the name suggests, a weight loss balloon involves placing an inflated balloon inside your stomach. Most balloons are placed through endoscopy, though there is a swallowable weight loss balloon as well. The deflated balloon is then filled with water, usually until it is the size of a grapefruit. The balloon takes up space in the stomach that food usually would. In the process, it allows you to feel full despite eating fewer amounts of food. Also, it slows down digestion, containing food in the stomach longer, making you less inclined to eat food frequently.
At first, the idea of inserting a balloon inside your stomach may be daunting. However, with the latest innovations, there are brands of weight balloons that make the process easier and worry-free. One of those is the Allurion Elipse™ Balloon, a swallowable weight loss balloon that requires no surgery, endoscopy, or anaesthesia.
Weight loss balloons are temporary, usually lasting around four months. Most weight loss balloons also come within health programs that help you retain your great results and further lose weight.
- Bariatric Surgery
Bariatric surgeries, or also called weight-loss surgeries, helps to reduce excessive weight by eliminating a part of the stomach or digestive tract, reducing food consumption and absorption of calories in the body. These surgeries can be restrictive, where it shrinks down the size of your stomach, helping you consume less food. On the other hand, it can be malabsorptive, making it harder for your body to absorb calories and nutrients. Some of the common bariatric surgeries include gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy.
Bariatric surgeries are recommended solutions for people who
1.) are morbidly obese without obesity-related medical conditions
2.) obese people with obesity-related medical disease such as type 2 diabetes.
However, despite more than 75,000 morbidly obese cases in the country, less than 1% opt to have surgery. Reasons include the social stigma mentioned earlier. Many people are also concerned about the price and possible surgery complications as it is an invasive operation. Regardless, bariatric surgeries are generally safe and yield permanent results.
- Diet and Exercise
As established, not all people find success in losing weight through traditional means. With that said, the classic formula of diet and exercise can still do wonders for your body and health. Even if you opt for alternative weight loss solutions, it is not wise to rely on these alone. Still, incorporate a diet and workout regimen to have consistent and long-lasting results.
Make sure to have a balanced diet and nutrient-dense diet. As much as possible, every meal should include 50% fruit and vegetables, 25% whole grains, and 25% protein—also, control portion sizes. Eating large amounts of healthy foods is counterproductive to your weight loss. Furthermore, match your eating habits with increased physical activity. Include various types of activities, from aerobic exercises to strength training.
So, are you obese because of genetics? It is a possibility, though other factors can still affect developing the condition. There is no formula for developing obesity or preventing the condition. Each one of us has different needs for our health. That’s why we need to be aware of our body and set individual goals for ourselves.
More importantly, we need to look at the issue of obesity more seriously. It is not just about fitting to a specific item of clothing. Instead, it is about living a healthier life in the future. Yes, body positivity is a must, but so is your health. We need to see the process of weight loss not as a shameful one but as something inspiring.
Please seek advice from a qualified doctor to assess eligibility for this program.