PART 8 of the series in
"The weight of our nation:
The fundamental cause of obesity is the increase in calorie consumption and decrease in calorie expenditure. This is termed as energy imbalance. Energy imbalance is caused due to a number of reasons. The medical term for a range of causes in combination to cause obesity is termed as obesogenic environment. Obesogenic environment again involves many factors and we are going to look upon them in India in relation to obesity.
One such factor is genetics and heredity. Thriftiness which involves the thrifty gene is seen in Asia and India. This causes metabolic syndromes, obesity and even diabetes mellitus.
In a nation of starvation this gene would have been very helpful as it helps to store up fat in the body and utilize it during food scarcity. Thriftiness is a very important factor during obesity research. The focus has shifted from the thrifty gene to the thrifty phenomenon as there has been a connection of low birth rate and obesity in later life. For a population surviving with not enough nutrition this thrifty gene would have been beneficial as it would have helped store fat for times of need; but as a country progressing towards urbanization and industrialization, this has caused less opportunity for physical activity and more choice as to what food can be consumed.
This leads to more energy consumption; this energy is not utilized and therefore stored by the adipose tissue and further what adds fuel to the fire is the thrifty gene. There are also other genetic factors which lead to obesity, although genetic deficiencies are rare, they do exist and are one of the causes of obesity.
Genetic Variations controlling appetite and metabolism affect the person’s dietary pattern. Also Leptin Deficiency and Leptin Receptor Deficiency are a few of the many other deficiencies which lead to obesity.