However, overeating and a sedentary lifestyle are only secondary reasons; the actual cause of obesity is erratic functioning and an imbalance of hormones.
The two important hormones that have a direct impact on weight gain or weight loss are Leptin and Insulin. Our appetite, metabolism, and fat distribution in the body are controlled by these two hormones as well as the sex hormones and growth hormones.
The metabolic disorder caused by the erratic functioning of these hormones leads to the increasing accumulation of body fat.
Exercises are aimed at burning the fat deposits into energy and building up lean muscle mass. So-called controlled eating or dieting is to deny the body the supply of additional carbohydrates and unhealthy fats to prevent further fat accumulation.
The unhealthy foods we eat can become a spoiler that will disrupt the healthy functioning and production of hormones.
If a person has gluttonous eating habits and an insatiable appetite, the main culprit for this is hormones. Even clumsiness and laziness set in with changes in levels of various hormones.
It is strange to note that the fatter we are, the greater the tendency to eat more.
Let us individually examine some of the major hormones that have a direct impact on obesity and related diseases.
Leptin Hormone And Obesity
It is the fat cells in the body that secrete the leptin hormone.
The most important function of the hormone is to send signals to the brain on levels of energy storage. The brain induces or retains the feelings of appetite according to the signals sent by leptin.
If the fat storage is already sufficient for bodily functioning, leptin will act on a specific center of the brain to inhibit the hunger feelings and vice versa.
Leptin also alerts the body cells to store or NOT to store fats according to the energy requirements of the body.
The more the fat is stored in the body more Leptin hormone is produced by the fat cells and releases into the bloodstream. That is to say that obese people have higher secretion of leptin hormone that should make them feel less hungry and eat less.[10,11]
However, obesity is caused when the leptin hormone’s flow and signals to the brain are blocked or not sensed by the brain.
Because of the communication gap created between the brain and leptin hormone, the former is unaware of the massive fat storage that already exists in the body and keeps on generating a feeling of appetite in an obese person. This particular situation is called ‘leptin resistance,’ which is said to be the major reason for obesity and related diseases.[12,13]
For a person with a Leptin resistance condition, the pangs of appetite are quite uncontrollable, and almost impossible to diet or skip meals.
Many reasons lead to the leptin resistance condition, and the best way to overcome leptin resistance syndrome is to eliminate the conditions that cause it. I shall write another post on how to fix leptin resistance as it is a very lengthy matter to accommodate here.
Insulin Hormone And Obesity
Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas that regulates the carbohydrate absorption and metabolism of fat.
Insulin is the second important hormone that contributes a lot to obesity issues in people.
Insulin persuades the body cells to absorb glucose from the bloodstream. It induces the cells to convert the glucose from the blood into glycogen or fat and store them for the future energy needs of the body.
If the body has an excess amount of insulin than the normal level, then there is an increased pressure on the body cells to store more fat despite existing fat storage is at the optimum level or in excess.
In most cases with obese people, the insulin becomes inactive in inducing the body cells to absorb the glucose from the bloodstream which results in a rise in blood sugar levels. This particular situation in which the insulin fails to function normally is called, “insulin resistance.”[14,15]
We already know that Type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome are caused by the excess sugar level in the blood. Insulin resistance and Type II diabetes go hand in hand.
As the body cells fail to absorb the excess glucose from blood due to lack of promptings from the insulin hormone, the pancreas produces more insulin as glucose level in the blood rises due to reduced metabolism.
This results in high levels of insulin hormone in the body; it is a condition known as hyperinsulinemia.
Many of the studies have also indicated the significant role played by the insulin hormone in creating leptin resistance syndrome. The rising level of insulin has a corresponding increase in leptin resistance as well.
Insulin is a necessary hormone that is responsible for the metabolic process in the body cells. But the insulin resistance syndrome increases the unused insulin to a very high level causing havoc to the body.[18,19]
One of the main reasons that lead to the development of insulin resistance is the over-consumption of fructose (from added sugars and corn syrups). It is always good to avoid all those packaged juices and soft drinks that have fructose in large amounts to stay away from metabolic disorders arising out of insulin resistance.[20,21]
There are many ways to prevent and remedy insulin resistance syndrome, but we are going to discuss this lengthy topic in another post article exclusively.
Sex Hormones And Obesity
Another reason that causes obesity issues is the distribution of fat in the body which is primarily controlled by hormones.
Excess fat accumulation in certain areas of the body leads to several diseases; heart diseases and stroke also are caused by fat accumulation.
Everybody knows that belly fat is a key indicator of “metabolic syndrome,” which eventually leads to high levels of blood sugar, blood pressure, and triglycerides.
The distribution of fats in the body is mostly controlled by two hormones, namely estrogens, and androgens
Oestrogen is a sex hormone; it contains a cluster of three other hormones oestriol, oestradiol, and oestrone. They together control the reproductive activities and sexual behaviors of women.
Men and postmenopausal women do not produce much estrogen in their testes (testicles) or ovaries but in their body fat (mostly in the abdominal fat). Accumulation of fat in the abdominal area almost becomes a necessity for estrogen hormone production.[22,23]
This is one of the reasons why younger people have the least chances of developing belly fat storage, unlike older people.
The reduction or stoppage of estrogen hormone production in the ovaries leads to weight gain in a woman, especially the increased belly fat storage.
Human Growth Hormones And Obesity
The human growth hormone (HGH) also known as somatotropin or somatropin, is a peptide hormone that helps in body growth, cell reproduction, and regeneration.
Normally the HGH is produced by the somatotropic cells in the pituitary glands. Nowadays, HGH supplements are used by many adults to increase the levels of growth hormones in the body which is not approved by the FDA for many possible side effects.
Besides helping in the buildup of bones and muscles, the Growth hormone plays an important role in balancing the levels of sugar and fat metabolism in the body.
Lack of growth hormones leads to the underutilization of carbohydrates and proteins we eat; which in turn will be stored as fats in the body cells. As we have already discussed, obesity issues become critical as more and more fat accumulation and storage are regularly happening.
Studies have shown that people with normal health (not obese) have healthy levels of growth hormone in their body which maintains lower fat deposits in their bodies.
The Bottom Line
Almost all of the function in the body is directed and controlled by the different hormone chemicals secreted by different organs in our body. Hormones are also messengers to the brain in coordinating all functions of the body.
As regards the obesity issues faced by many individuals, it is four hormones, namely leptin, insulin, estrogens, and HGH, which have great roles to play.
These four hormones control metabolism, appetite, fat storage, body fat distribution, and sugar level control in the body. It is the lack of or unhealthy functioning of these hormones largely responsible for obesity and related diseases like heart ailments and diabetes.
In addition to the unhealthy hormone levels and functioning, obesity issues become severe when chronic low-grade inflammation within the fat tissue occurs. This stress reaction within the fat cells is due to the pressure arising out of the mass fat storage.
Inflammation at the cell level causes several types of cancers and cardiovascular diseases.
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