Education is a big step towards bringing about a change in attitudes and behaviours. Let’s get down to the real facts about obesity!

Obesity is characterized by excess or abnormal body fat that can impair your health. Many organizations including Obesity Canada, the Canadian Medical Association, the American Medical Association, and the World Health Organization consider obesity to be a chronic disease. Italy also recognizes obesity as a chronic disease.

Many people believe that the amount of fat in your body is only determined by what you eat and how much you exercise. But the reality is that obesity is a complex illness caused by a number of different factors, including your environment, genes, emotional health, lack of sleep, medical problems or even some medications you may be on. Even with the same diet or the same amount of exercise, people will vary widely in the amount of body fat or weight at which their bodies settle.

This is because your body tries to “defend” its fat stores to maintain your highest weight (this is what researchers call “starvation response”). This is why when you go on a diet or begin exercising, weight loss becomes progressively more difficult and the weight will come back as soon as you stop or reduce your efforts at keeping it off.

While short-term “quick-fix” solutions can sound appealing, they are usually temporary and are therefore linked to high rates of weight regain. Weight management is never about how much weight you can lose or how fast you can lose it – all that matters for your overall health and well-being is how much weight you can keep off while still living a life that you can enjoy. This is called your “best weight”.

One in four adults and one in 10 children in Canada are now living with excess weight —this means roughly six million Canadians could be affected by this disease (far more than people living with diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, chronic lung disease or cancer).