For many, obesity is Genetically linked
Patients with a genetic predisposition toward obesity find it easy to gain weight, but very hard to lose it. They also frequently report being hungry all the time, or need big meals to feel satisfied. Hunger is regulated by the Hypothalamus - the part of the brain that controls the body’s metabolic mechanisms.
There is now strong evidence that the hunger-regulating part of the hypothalamus does not function correctly in people with genetic obesity - it continues to stimulate hunger and food desire all the time, even when your body has plenty of energy reserves. Think of it like the low-fuel warning light in a car constantly flickering on even though you’ve just filled the tank. This is often a genetic condition leading to overeating, poor food choices and, over time, obesity.
Another important observation is that people who are constantly hungry often seem drawn toward high calorie snacks and meals. Such foods are often high in sugar and fat, such as pizza, chocolate, fried foods, and sweets. Treatment by weight loss surgery is helpful in overcoming this type of overeating. Our procedures work by inducing appetite control by several mechanisms, including inducing favourable alterations to gastrointestinal hormones and brain pathway signalling, hunger reduction and portion restriction.
Overeating often has an emotional component too
Comfort eating to cope with stress, anxiety, boredom and low mood is very common. Chocolate, ice-cream, lollies, or cheese, crackers and chips are the usual quick-fix food as they give a temporary ‘hit’. Psychologists believe that we are programmed from birth to be soothed by food – we have all seen the way a baby stops crying when put on the breast. Sometimes a serious or traumatic life event may trigger a person to revert back to using food to help them feel better. Of course, we all know that this doesn’t really work logically, and often we might actually feel worse about ourselves after an episode of comfort eating. However, emotions can be very powerful and at times even control us.
Over time, regular emotional eating can lead to significant weight gain and the development of health complications such as Type 2 Diabetes. Fortunately, emotional eating can be better controlled. At OClinic we take a direct approach to helping patients overcome emotional eating by providing appropriate coaching and support through our partnership with Fresh Start. We also have our clinic psychologists available for regular one on one therapy (at additional cost). Our counselling is targeted at breaking the link between emotions and calories by adopting healthier responses to emotional triggers.
Whatever the reason is for one’s obesity, doctors all agree that it must be treated because of the health risks associated with being dangerously overweight.