Applied Behavioral Science 200
April 1, 2013
Obesity in America
Obesity means having too much body fat. This does not mean to be overweight where there is just too much weight. Obesity simply deals with fat. Being overweight can be from a number of things such as, muscle or water weight. There are a few causes of obesity, intake of too many calories, too much alcohol, and the lack of exercise to counteract the intake.
Factors that may affect weight are the way we eat as children because the way we eat can become a habit. If a child is given fatty foods then they become accustomed to eating that way and they continue through adulthood. This can affect what, when and how we eat. Not planning for meals can cause you to choose the wrong types of foods. Some people may then choose to go through the drive through of a restaurant to provide dinner for their family. Those with less free time may choose not to exercise. They may not want to get up early or stay up later to exercise. Eating disorders can also cause obesity. A person can be obese, follow an unhealthy diet, and have an eating disorder all at the same time.
There are also health reasons for someone to be obese. For example, a person could have an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) or they may be on some medications that cause weight gain. There are many medications that cause you to have an overactive appetite. Stress, anxiety, feeling sad, or not sleeping well can cause obesity.
If someone is trying to stop smoking they may gain weight. Most of these people gain between four and ten pounds in the first six months after quitting and some gain as much as twenty-five to thirty pounds.
Women may gain weight when they go through menopause. Some women even gain as much as twelve to fifteen pounds. Women also have trouble with obesity if they do not lose weight after giving birth. They may gain twenty-five to thirty pounds while pregnant and it does not all come off at the time of birth. Some women have to work to get any of their weight off from pregnancy.
In this article we will discuss a patient named Maria who was thin as a child and into her beginning adult years but who started putting weight on at age twenty-five for no apparent reason. Maria was athletic and loved to exercise. She was five foot three inches and approximately one hundred fifteen pounds at age twenty-five. She had no change in her calorie intake and continued to exercise.
Maria started to notice her weight increasing so she wanted to take charge of her health and try to put an end to the weight gain. She took a closer look at her meals to make sure she was getting her nutrients and not a lot of fat intake. She also tried some new exercise routines but noting seemed to help. After a few months went by and she had grown two dress sizes she decided to have a visit with her doctor.
The doctor tried to dismiss her weight gain as a lack of exercise and too much fatty food. She explained to her doctor that she had already taken a look at her fat intake and changed her exercise routine but nothing seemed to help. Her doctor was surprised by her knowledge and decided to do some tests. During her visit the doctor performed a physical exam and asked questions about her medical history. He wanted to assess her risks for diseases related to her weight so he calculated her body mass index (BMI). This estimates how much body fat she had. Then he drew some lab work to check for thyroid or hormone problems. Those tests came back normal.
Then the doctor decided to run more tests on her and found a tumor on her pituitary gland. This is called Cushing’s disease. Cushing’s disease is a condition in which the pituitary gland releases too much adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). This gland is located at the base of the brain. When too much ACTH is released it stimulates the production of cortisol, or the stress