Is obesity a disease?
Medical opinion varies markedly about why people become obese. Some doctors want obesity to be proclaimed a disease, saying that it is more than eating too much or not exercising enough. But a disease is an abnormal state; a condition that stops the body from functioning properly and there are a lot of obese people who are otherwise healthy and live normal lives. They do not develop medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Other doctors say that obesity predisposes us to other diseases as those I mentioned above because the claim is that once people gain weight, the extra pounds can lead to metabolic and hormonal problems that increase the risk of diseases.
I do not believe that obesity has anything to do with a person's genetic makeup and the idea that we are “hard wired” to eat starchy and fatty food, but I do think that there are underlying conditions that cause them to become obese, but I would not call them ‘abnormalities’ though. And while a lot has to do with a person’s metabolism, the matter isn’t so simple. Before I put my discussion forward I want to add that I believe that obesity is NEVER caused by a lack of willpower. I also dispute the talk of certain foods as fuel materials so we crave them and the supposed need to store food in our bodies owing to famine and plenty cycles in the availability of food. This is particularly untrue of people in Western countries such as the USA and that is where the problem is worse. I also dispute the idea that when we first taste starchy and fatty foods in childhood we become addicted to them, since they are pleasurable.
The answer to obesity, and indeed the real “underlying condition” is stress. However it is not the ordinary everyday living stress. It is pathological stress that arises out of toxic relationships. This sort of stress may raise the metabolism significantly so that the person feels hot and uncomfortable, even apart from the core issues that stress them. So the person who is stressed in this way will naturally seek relief. I will give you the answer in biological terms but don’t worry this is not hard to understand. You don’t need to be rocket scientists to understand it. It is really only just high school biology. So let’s look at how a person may seek relief.
- Eating as self-medication. There are many different ways of self-medicating and eating something greasy is one of them. Why? Eating something, anything will stimulate digestion and that is facilitated by the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). This is the same nervous system that facilitates rest in the body. If the person has been stressed they discover that if they eat something their body returns to rest or close to rest because with digestion the body is still working but just a bit above rest. With their body close enough to rest they get relief from the stress. Relief is pleasurable. So the end result is pleasurable but that is not due to an addiction but the need for self-medication, to address the stress. If the stress was to go away they would not eat as much anymore. And possibly also their choice of foods would change.
The stimulation of digestion is true of eating all foods and not only something greasy. So what is so special about greasy and fatty foods? The key here is that greasy and fatty foods require bile to be digested. This takes place late in the digestion process. So if you eat something greasy or fatty then digestion takes a lot longer and that means the parasympathetic nervous system is active for longer. This in turn means that they gain relief from the stress for longer and feel pleasurable state for longer. The side-effect of such self-medication is of course weight gain. The more a person is stress, the greater their need for relief of that stress and the more they will eat so they will gain a lot more weight than others. Some people are stressed but that stress is never stepped up to the point where it becomes a disease, so while they may be overweight due to over-eating, they remain healthy.
- Seeking a comfort zone for relief of stress. Comfort zones are also a means of trying to deal with pathological stress, the stress that arises out of toxic relationships. I have discussed comfort zone here on my blog at kyrani99.wordpress.com/ will take you to the home page and go down to the section on comfort zone and coping habits for the link or you can go here kyrani99.wordpress.com/2012/01/01/comfort-zones-coping-habits/ to go directly to the page.
Comfort zones are not true rest. They are a means of blurring out attention so that unpleasant thoughts become subconsciously. I explain on my blog why changing the breathing affects attention and thus consciousness. But briefly here one causes lethargy and the other distraction. We all do this sometimes and we do it easily and habitually, so by the time we become adults this habit has become automatic. There are two basic methods. One is to directly affect our breathing, making it either shallower or deeper. The other is to indirectly affect our breathing, either by becoming less active or more active.
If we breathe shallower (or become less active) we will affect the heart rate, making it slightly slower and ultimately affect our body’s metabolic rate making it lower. This means that the activity of the thyroid gland, which produces a hormone called thyroxin that facilitates metabolism at the cellular level, will decrease. If we breathe deeper we will again affect the heart rate making it increase slightly and this time our body’s metabolic rate will increase, so the activity of the thyroid gland will increase. Note here too that the potentially the first method will cause lowered blood pressure and the second method higher blood pressure than at normal resting states.
If we change our metabolic rate we change the body’s usage of fuel materials. So if a person slows their metabolism they will use less out of their body’s storage of fats etc. If they do this on a long term basis owing to ongoing stress then they will of course gain weight because they don’t use up to form energy the foods that they normally eat. However this problem becomes a lot worse if the person is severely stressed because they may also self-medicate by over-eating as well. This means they will gain a lot more weight.
If a person speeds up their metabolism they will use more out of their body’s storage of fats etc. If they do this on a long term basis owing to ongoing stress then they will of course lose weight because they will use up more than they normally eat. This problem too can become a lot worse. If the person again being severely stressed uses eating as a form of self-medication as well, then they may also gain weight. And depending on how much they raise their metabolism due to their coping habit they may eat a lot more to try and bring it down along with the effects of the underlying stress condition.
The medical profession does not consider slightly underweight (“thin and wiry”) as problematic. They only consider overweight as a problem. However underweight people get heart disease, strokes, cancers etc., too. It is only those that are overweight are more obvious. Many people, if not all people who have over or under weight, have some sort of “medical condition” as well. For this reason many in the medical field conclude that overweight in particular leads to heart disease and diabetes etc. It is reasonable but in my opinion definitely not true. The weight in itself does not lead to disease. Diseases are caused again by toxic relationships and the sort of foul games that are played. Such dirty games are most commonly played for the sake of gaining power and influence over another person in order to manipulate and control them. The controlling person gains a life and death hold over the other person. Such methods are particularly common in the home and in the workplace. These games may also be played for the sake of revenge or jealousy.
From what I have observed, overweight is not an underlying condition that predisposes to disease, however the coping habit and comfort zone most definitely are. Indeed a coping habit /comfort zone may be the very condition that tips the scale to cause a fatality and not only the disease.
- Addressing the habit of breathing too deeply or too shallowly OR alternatively being too active or too inactive.
Firstly for those who raise their metabolism by breathing too deeply in resting states (what I have called elevated metabolism coping habit EMCM). They can reduce their habit by two methods. Rather than keep busy all the time, force yourself to take regular rest. This will help control the problem. If you engage in reading or problem solving during these rest times then you will reduce your breathing rate all the more. Problem solving and reading require activity by the brain and the body normally gives the brain an advantage, so that it does not have to compete with the musculature for fuel materials. It does this by making the breathing more subtle. However a much better method is that in those rest times to engage in meditation, at least some of the time. You can also become more mindful even in your busy times. This will also help regulate your breathing. This means that if you are eating as self-medication you will not put on so much weight.
Secondly for those that lower their metabolism, an easier method is available. If you cover your bed with a canopy, like a tent or a very heavy mosquito netting, you can retrain your body while you sleep. At first you will feel like you’re suffocating because your habit is to take in much less air and in a restricted airspace you soon change the amount of oxygen in the air around you. When your body detects that the volume you normally breathe in lacks the level of oxygen you require it will cause you to breath more and deeper and this is a similar feeling that we get when we experience difficulty in breathing enough air. Don’t worry you will always have enough oxygen to breathe. Your aim is to stimulate your body in this way to increase your lung capacity, so that a new habit forms, one that is healthier. If you persist then your body will re-adjust your breathing. In this method you are restricting your airspace you restrict the amount of oxygen available to you. However as you breathe during the night you use up some of the oxygen so that the oxygen to air ratio (the amount of oxygen in any given volume of air) is reduced. This means your body needs to work harder to get you the right amount of air. Thus your body will, of its own accord re-adjust your breathing so that you breathe deeper in order to breath in the amount of oxygen you require. You can also sit under a canopy for short periods of time during the day to get your body to regulate your breathing even more. If you can get your body to break the habit of shallow breathing then you will use up more of the food you eat as fuel and you will reduce your weight problem or not develop one in the first place.
Ultimately however to overcome the problem of obesity and underweight you need to overcome the underlying condition, the stress. To do that you need to understand what it is all about. Knowledge is the key, knowledge is power. This is a very large subject and I am covering it in some detail on my blog but even so my blog is really a summary. To overcome the stress you have to address the relationships in your life. You need to examine more carefully the others that are close to you and realize that appearances are not always the real deal. Appreciate also that ESP within relationship is strong and thus the unpleasant ideas are not your own thinking at all but suggestions of others. As suggestions they are null and void, unless you take them on board and accept them. So examining the unpleasant thoughts dispassionately rather than running away from them allows you to realize that they are valueless and can be simply discharged from mind rather than pushed out of consciousness. In this way you will find that the emotions that arose will also dissipate and your body returns to true rest. Emotions are rational changes in whole body function and they point to issues. So you can also use them to try and figure out what the unpleasant ideas may be about, thus helping to bring them to consciousness. If you address the stress then not only will you have addresses the need to eat and /or run a coping habit, but also the underlying condition of disease because pathological stress, when it becomes severe is the disease.
Kyrani Eade July, 2012.