Obesity is defined as a state of being more than 20 percent above normal weight, or having a body fat percentage of greater than 30 percent for women and 25 percent for men.
Signs and Symptoms
Obesity is divided into several categories based on how the fat is distributed in the body. Fat primarily distributed around the waist is referred to as male-pattern or android obesity, since it is typically seen in obese males. In android obesity, the waist is bigger around than the hips (apple-shaped). In gynecoid obesity, the hips are larger (pear-shaped). Android obesity carries with it a greater risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, while gynecoid obesity increase the risk of hormone-sensitive cancers such as breast or cervical cancer.
Theories of the underlying causes of obesity are tied to brain serotonin levels (see discussion of 5-hydroxytryptophan
), diet induced thermogenesis, and the inner working of fat cells. All of these models support the notion that obesity is not just a matter of overeating. They explain why some people can eat large quantities of food and not increase their weight substantially, while for others just the reverse is true. For example, a certain amount of the food we eat is converted immediately to heat. This is known as diet induced thermogenesis (heat production). There is evidence that the level of diet induced thermogenesis is what determines whether a person is likely to be overweight. In lean individuals, a meal may stimulate up to a 40 percent increase in heat production. In contrast, overweight people often display only a 10 percent or less increase in heat production. The food energy is stored as fat rather than being converted to heat. Recent data indicates that higher serotonin levels may play a major role in the percentage of diet induced thermogenesis.
5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is an amino acid isolated from the seed of the African plant Griffonia simplicifolia. The amino acid is also produced naturally in the human body. It is necessary for the middle step in the production of the brain chemical serotonin. Considerable scientific evidence indicates that low serotonin levels are linked to obesity.
Apple Cider Vinegar Tablets
This wildly popular diet supplement has legions of fans, but has not been subjected to much scientific scrutiny. What is known is that it contains a smorgasboard of nutrients and is about as safe a supplement that you will find.
Popularized in the early 1990s, chromium earned its place among natural weight loss remedies as millions of users attested to its effectiveness. Clinical studies have been mixed, showing varying degrees of effectiveness.
¹The Pill Book Guide to Natural Medicines, Michael Murray N.D., 04/2002