Sunday, September 24th, 2017

Fightening Facts About Fat

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We used to think fat cells (also called adipocytes) were passive little things whose sole purpose was to store fat. However, fat had us fooled until about a decade ago when we discovered that fat was an active endocrine organ that influenced important events like vascular tone regulation and appetite, to mention just a few of its functions.

Fat cells can enlarge to three times their size but when they do the profile of chemicals they secrete alters and ends up in places like the liver, muscle, pancreas and endothelial tissue as depicted in the picture of the blood vessel. This causes problems. Take fatty liver for example. In the US an increasingly common reason for liver transplants is not because of cirrhosis caused by alcoholism but by Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD). Refer to http://www.acg.gi.org/patients/gihealth/fld.asp.

Fat cells on a body are not just aesthetically unattractive when deposits are high it has been linked with the following medical and psycho-social conditions:

Psychosocial complications of obesity include but are not limited to:

  • Obese children and adults are targets for societal stigmatization – peers, educators, parents, health care professionals
  • It hinders social emotional and academic development
  • It effects self-esteem (your self-worth as compared to others)
  • There is an association between weight and exposure to bullying
  • Depression

Medical complications of obesity include but are not limited to:

  • Metabolic conditions: insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes, blood pressure, high blood fats
  • Heart disease
  • Nutritional deficiencies such as vitamin D and iron
  • Orthopaedic complications – knee and other joint pain, higher incidence of fractures, bow legs in children
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Endocrine complications e.g. polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Some forms of cancer. Research suggests that in both men and women, higher BMI is associated with higher death rates from cancers of the oesophagus, colon and rectum, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and kidney. The same trend applies to cancers of the stomach and prostate in men, and cancers of the breast, uterus, cervix, and ovaries in women. Obesity (BMI>30) is also associated with breast cancer in post-menopausal women.
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Heartburn and reflux
  • Sleep apnoea
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