What is Obesity?

   People who weigh over ten to twenty percent more than they should for their height, age, and body build are obese. Obesity is an imbalance of metabolism (body chemistry). It may be caused by overeating, by misfunction of body glands, or by breakdown of the body tissues.
   Obesity injures the body in many ways. The body must keep itself in balance in order to work properly. This balance is called homeostasis. When a person is obese, large masses of fat are stored throughout the body. This fat requires extra blood vessels to keep it nourished. The additional blood supply and weight that must be sup-ported increase the amount of work of the heart in pumping blood. When the load becomes too great, heart disease, high blood pressure, and kidney disorders appear.
   As the body increases in mass, more energy is needed to keep it alive. However, the balance of storing and burning up food in body cells becomes greatly disturbed. Food is stored as fat instead of being used as a source of energy, and the obese patient may actually suffer from malnutrition and starvation.
   The feeling of hunger is controlled by nerve centers in the hypothalamus, a part of the brain very close to the pituitary gland. The normal function of hunger is to signal a person to take in food when the body senses the absence of food in the stomach. If more food is consistently taken in than is necessary to fulfill the needs of the body, obesity will result.
   A reducing plan for an obese person must be entrusted to a physician. If obesity remains untreated, the life span is greatly shortened by breakdown of the organs under so heavy a burden.