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 Losing weight: Is it really that complex?

Is losing weight anything more than simply using more calories than you expend by physical activity and metabolism?  In theory, losing weight is little more than this simple equation, but in reality it is much more complex.  This basic equation of energy balance is true but is made up of several mechanisms including metabolic, genetic, and environmental factors, which consider how your body uses and stores energy.  Also, controllable factors such as the amount of food you eat as well as your psychological responses to the food, along as your lack of exercise will have a direct effect on your weight control efforts.  Heredity, your intake of calories, level of physical activity and some specific behavioral and psychological issues will have a significant effect on your efforts at losing weight. 

 

Heredity and losing weight: 

Obviously, heredity will have a significant effect on your efforts at losing weight. Heredity is known to be a significant risk factor in whether you will become obese.  Some studies have found for example that if you are the child of two obese parents, your chances of being obese are at about 80%, as compared with 14% for children born to parents of normal weight.  Also, studies using identical twins have also found similar high rates of obesity due to inheritability. 

Interestingly enough however, research comparing the weights of adopted children to the weights of their biological and adoptive parents, have identified that genetic factors are responsible for only about 33% of the weight variance.  This figure is believed by experts to probably be more accurate. It is believed that heredity may influence the number of fat cells (adipocytes) in the body, how much fat is stored and where it is stored, as well as other aspects of metabolism.  Approximately 80% of children who are obese children also become obese adults.  However, only about 20% of obese adults were also obese children. 

Your ability at losing weight does not have to be predetermined by your heritability however. Your predisposition to becoming overweight or obese can be overcome according to some studies.  One study of 485 pairs of female twins found that the amount of physical activity appeared to be a significant factor in determining an individual's body weight or ability at losing weight.  Women that were physically active, on the average had 9 pounds less body fat than their sedentary cohorts. 

Page 2 Weight control: Is it really that complex?

 

Information From The Johns Hopkins Medical Guide to Health After 50

Additional Information and webpage by Paul Susic  MA Licensed Psychologist   Ph.D. Candidate  (Health and Geriatric Psychologist)

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