Clinical Features of Obesity
The following indicators may be present if someone struggles with obesity.
1. Individuals with obesity frequently have no satiety or hunger signals. (In my practice I have found that most obese people were fed on a food regime popular in the early 60’s. That is, they were only fed every 4 hours as a baby, regardless of the level of hunger. As a result, I believe that their hunger and satiety signals switched off at this time because the external environment not a body signal decided when food was needed).
2. Individuals who have struggled with obesity are susceptible to external food cues. The obese individual will walk past a bakery, smell the doughnuts and then feel like s/he must have a doughnut. The smell triggers off an emotional need of “I must have that” and before s/he knows, it, the doughnut has been consumed. See why diets do not work to find out more about the deprivation concept.
3. Large quantities of food can be consumed (often secretly). Frequently an extra amount of food may have been consumed over an extended period of time. This may result in a steady increase in weight a year. Have you ever noticed the weight slowly increase year by year? The negative effects of dieting also contribute towards this problem (see why diets do not work). At the point at which a person struggling with obesity finally seeks help, s/he may well be eating too little food to lose weight. In order to lose weight you have to eat to burn calories. This is the input-output theory. What you put in your body needs to be used or it will be stored. Do not, however, try another diet until you have read why diets do not work and you have understood what drives your relationship with food.
4. While individuals with obesity may lead a sedentary lifestyle, not all are couch potatoes and some have even been very sporty in the past. It is difficult to exercise when you feel physically uncomfortable so it is important to work at a level at which you feel comfortable.
5. Fluctuations in weight may result in depression. This includes positive changes in weight! Someone who has been overweight all his/her life may have come to identify with a “fat personality”. The thought of being thin, while appealing, is also terrifying. Remember that healthy weight loss takes time. In fact, if you approach this with the right help, then you should be able to adjust to your new weight with less fear and more joy.
6. Emotional eating: This is a common factor that prevents successful weight loss and which is why it is so important to understand your relationship with food. Some individuals eat when they are emotionally upset (e.g. sad, angry, anxious, etc) or even when happy. I discuss this aspect under psychological causes, but frequently most emotional responses are dealt with by eating.