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What is obesity?

A big step towards bringing about a change in attitudes and behaviours is education. Let’s get down to the real facts about obesity!

Obesity is a chronic and often progressive condition, similar to diabetes or high blood pressure. Obesity is characterized by excess body fat that can threaten or affect your health. Many organizations including the Canadian Obesity Network, the Canadian Medical Association, the American Medical Association and the World Health Organisation now consider obesity to be a chronic disease. 

Obesity is more than just what you eat and how much you move.

Many people believe that the amount of fat in your body is only determined by what you eat and how much you exercise. But the reality is that obesity is a complex illness caused by a number of different factors, including your environment, genes, emotional health, lack of sleep, medical problems or even some medications you may be on. Even with the same diet or the same amount of exercise, people will vary widely in the amount of body fat or weight at which their bodies settle. 

Obesity is considered a chronic disease because managing weight is a lifelong process. This is because your body tries to “defend” its fat stores to maintain your highest weight (this what researchers call “starvation response”). This is why when you go on a diet or begin exercising, weight loss becomes progressively more difficult and the weight will come back as soon as you stop or reduce your efforts at keeping it off.

While short-term “quick-fix” solutions can sound appealing, they are usually unsustainable and are therefore linked to high rates of weight regain. Weight management is never about how much weight you can lose or how fast you can lose it – all that matters for your overall health and well-being is how much weight you can keep off while still living a life that you can enjoy. This is called your “best weight”. 

Obesity affects more people than you may think.

One in four adults and one in 10 children in Canada are now living with obesity—this means roughly six million Canadians are affected by this condition (far more than people living with diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, chronic lung disease or cancer). 

 

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