How Humans Became Obese

Obesity is one of the biggest public health problems throughout the world. Humans are by nature hunters and gatherers. For more than 200,000 years their diet consisted mainly of meat, nuts and berries – a low carbohydrate, high protein diet.

This diet coupled with their arduous lifestyle, obesity was nowhere as common as it is in today’s society.

Farming was introduced 8000 to 10000 years ago, leading to the consumption of complex carbohydrates, such as wheat, lentils and barley. This meant that Man could now obtain food over his requirements. Obesity became more prevalent, especially amongst the affluent.

Facts About Obesity in Today’s World

The 1990s and 2000s saw an exponential increase in obesity. Our lifestyles became more sedentary both for work and leisure. Fast-food that is high in saturated fats, carbohydrates and salt was introduced. While fast-food was initially only present in prosperous societies, it rapidly made its way into developing countries. Over time, fast-food has become significantly more affordable than healthy alternatives, resulting in exponential increase in obesity.

Obesity continues to become a growing health crisis in the modern world. Here are some facts about how it is adversely affecting the world today:

  • 1.7 billion people worldwide are obese
  • 67% of Australians now are overweight or obese
  • That is 10% more than in 1995
  • 1 in 4 children are overweight or obese
  • 1 in 5 Deaths due to obesity
  • Cost of obesity to Australia – $10 Billion a year

Are you concerned about your health? Do You think that might be considered Obese?

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Commonly Asked Questions About Obesity

How do genetics affect obesity

In 2007, scientists discovered the FTO gene that causes obesity. People with the defective gene were 1.7 times more likely to become obese. However, they only carried 3kg more in excess weight on average. Clearly, there is more to obesity than this gene.

At this stage however, social and behavioural factors are thought to have a greater impact in development of obesity.

Can hormones affect obesity?

Yes. Hormones regulate a lot of our body functions, including hunger and satiety. Humans are programmed NOT to lose weight. When you go on a diet, your body goes into a self-preservation mode and reduces the amount of calories you burn at rest.

Therefore, you will need to increase the level of physical activity more than you think to burn the extra calories to lose weight. The hormone effects often last much longer than the duration of your diet. When you stop dieting, people put on more weight than their baseline. Weight regain after dieting commonly leads to a higher body fat percentage. It can take 1-2 years for that to return to your normal.

The fat cells around internal organs – so called toxic fat, produce fatty acids. These make the liver produce more sugars and cholesterol. They also make the body less sensitive to insulin. All of these contribute to obesity related health problems like diabetes mellitus.

What are the health risks associated with obesity?

Some of the more common health issues that obesity can increase the risk of include:

  • Premature death
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes
  • High blood pressure
  • Blood clots in legs and/or lungs
  • Asthma
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Cancer
  • Reflux
  • Joint problems
  • Back pain
  • Skin ulcers
  • Mental health problems
What is Barret's Oesophagus?

In Barrett’s oesophagus, the lining of the oesophagus changes from its native type to one like the small intestine called intestinal metaplasia. These cells are still normal, just in the wrong place. However, they can become increasingly abnormal. A small proportion of patients can develop a deadly form of cancer called oesophageal adenocarcinoma.

Barrett’s oesophagus is closely related to gastro-oesophageal reflux disease. It is the current belief that the constant passage of stomach acid and secretions into the oesophagus irritates it, causing it to develop intestinal metaplasia.

What are my options for weight loss if I am considered Obese?

There are several options available to those who are interested in choosing a healthier lifestyle that includes weight loss. Options include?


They work, but only in the short term. The human body is highly protective of itself and will find a way to fight back your hard efforts at dieting. The section on the science of obesity explains why this happens.


They also work, to an extent. They do not however produce durable or significant weight loss in most patients.


The only weight loss method that has been proven consistently to produce meaningful weight loss that is durable in the long run. The options currently available are sleeve gastrectomy, gastric bypass, gastric banding and biliopancreatic diversion. There are other less invasive methods such as intragastric balloon and endoscopic plication. However, these have not been shown to produce the same results as conventional surgery.

Bear in mind that these procedures are not magic wands. They are a helping hand to kick start your weight loss journey and must be combined with a balanced diet and regular exercise.

If you’re interested in knowing more about weight loss surgery, get in touch with our team at Perth Obesity Solutions to arrange a consult.

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