Obesity: Is it a Biological Problem - William Juckett

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While reading about hunger and obesity I found the science behind obesity to be quite interesting. The book explains the process of eating on a chemical level. They explain that as a person eats a candy bar, some glucose gets converted into fat and becomes long-term energy storage. The more energy storage, which means the more candy bars eaten, there is an increase production of a hormone named leptin. The hormone leptin signals the hypothalamus and reduces appetite and increases the amount of energy used. The researches related this to the reason some may be obese. Those who are obese seem to resist the effects of leptin. Is this a valid excuse for the high obesity rates in America or is this chemical response just a small factor that could be easily overcome? Of the obese population how many people does this affect, does it only account for a small number of the obese population? Our book also discusses genes being a factor in obesity. The authors of the book mention a mutation of the melanocortin - 4-receptor gene that causes people who are affected by this mutation to never feel full. They also mention other genes, like the leptin gene, and a combination of other genes that increase the likelihood of obesity. What I am wondering is how many obese people are affected by these mutations and is it actually a substantial percent of the obese population. Where do biologically reasons for obesity end and the lack of a healthy lifestyle as the cause of obesity begin? As the number of obese children in the United States increase, is it due to an increase in these biological malfunctions or is it because our youth is not being exposed to what a healthy lifestyle consists of? Are we approaching this issue the wrong way? Should we be trying to find a solution to these biological issues that cause obesity?
Reference: Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding (Lilienfeld, Lynn, Namy and Woolf)

3 Comments

Reading this blog really got me thinking and I would like to thank you for that. I find it quite interesting that you propose the fact that maybe it is not completely the persons fault for being obese. I feel there are a lot of people in todays world that judge people they see that are over weight and do not understand the scientific side to their weight issues. Great post.

This was a very interesting read. I had always heard about different reasons for obesity and the rumored "fat" gene but I had never heard the chemical reasons behind some peoples obesity. I feel like many skinny or just normal sized people take it for granted the feeling of being full. I cannot imagine a life of eating and eating and never getting that full sensation that tells your body you have had enough. I wonder if obese people are being tested for a lack of leptin and if this approach would be more beneficial for solving America's obesity problem like you said.

I think this blog post raises some pretty important questions. I think we'd be a lot better off as a country if we tried to create individual plans for people to lose weight that accommodated their needs and reasons for being unhealthy. It would be interesting to see how many people have the biological problems you described in your post. Hopefully in the next few decades we'll be able to find our more about these issues and how to treat them. I feel that a lot of solutions we have to obesity now are only bandaid solutions that don't target the emotional or biological reasons for it. Good post!

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This page contains a single entry by juck0010 published on April 23, 2012 8:28 PM.

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