How Does Obesity Affect Hormones?

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Obesity, Metabolism, and Body Fat

The obesity epidemic in America is a serious cause for concern, with more than two-thirds of adults considered overweight or obese, according to the National Institutes of Health. The effects of obesity on health are numerous, with obesity linked to many types of disease and other tolls on health, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. And the problem is not just limited to the United States—obesity statistics worldwide are dire, with obesity ranked as the fifth leading risk factor for global deaths, as reported by the World Health Organization.

What Is Obesity?

The American Heart Association uses body mass index (BMI) to classify obesity, considering a BMI of 30 or higher as obese and a BMI of 40 or more as morbidly obese. While BMI is a simple way to classify whether or not someone is overweight, it is not the most accurate way to do so—BMI calculations are outdated at best, relying solely on height and weight. So for instance, very muscular, lean people can appear to be obese using the BMI calculation. A better, more accurate criteria to determine whether or not someone is overweight is to look at body fat percentage with a body impedance analysis (BIA), which is a tool used by many physicians to analyze body composition that compares body fat in relation to lean body mass.

Obesity symptoms can include breathlessness, increased sweating, sleep apnea or snoring, inability to cope with sudden physical activity, fatigue, joint pain, and depression, among others. According to current obesity charts, the most obese states include Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and West Virginia, while Colorado has the lowest percentage of obesity.

Causes of Obesity

While overeating and lack of physical activity are two main causes of obesity, hormonal imbalance is also a significant factor. The hormones leptin and insulin, male and female sex hormones, and growth hormones all influence appetite, metabolism, and body fat distribution. Obese women and men usually have imbalanced levels of these hormones, and this imbalance alters metabolism as well as causing the accumulation of excess body fat.

Menopause in women as well as andropause in men are both responsible for changes in hormone levels that can lead to weight gain. In many cases, diet and nutrition are not enough to keep off the weight when struggling with hormonal issues that impact metabolism, muscle mass, and hunger.

For most women, weight gain is gradual over the years. It averages between 10 to 15 pounds from perimenopause to post-menopause, with typical gain of about a pound a year. For women who undergo hysterectomy, weight gain is accelerated. Too much cortisol or too little progesterone in the body is a common culprit for weight gain, and elevated or decreased levels of testosterone or estrogen can also lead to increased weight gain, both of which can occur during menopause.

In men, high cortisol levels typically contribute to weight gain, as elevated cortisol diminishes levels of testosterone, which are already on the decline during andropause. As a result, lowered testosterone reduces energy, meaning less physical activity and subsequent weight gain. Further, thyroid disorders that impact the pituitary gland, as well as low levels of the human growth hormone (HGH), often lead to weight gain in men by decreasing the body’s metabolic rate.

Obesity Treatment

Gastric bypass is a common surgery for morbidly obese patients, but it often does not include a long-term approach to overall wellness and comes with many risks. Properly balanced hormones can go a long way in effectively reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. Bioidentical hormone therapy can bring testosterone, cortisol, estrogen, HGH, and thyroid hormones, among others, into more optimal levels to assist with weight loss.

The expert physicians within the BodyLogicMD network address obesity with a combined therapy approach, including bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, nutrition plans, and a targeted supplement regimen, as well as recommendations for physical activity. Each plan is customized to each individual’s needs, and progress is evaluated for lasting wellness. Especially for women going through menopause and men experiencing andropause, a holistic approach is the safest, most effective way to regain long-term health.

Contact a practitioner within the BodyLogicMD network today to schedule an appointment and learn more about how to achieve and maintain a healthy weight with bioidentical hormone therapy and a treatment plan that is customized to your needs.