Women & Obesity

Some girls, who used to be slim prior to their marriage, gain weight gradually after marriage. This is due to the changed eating habits or eating rich food to which they might not be used to previously. Perhaps a more care free & comfortable life is also to be blamed for this. This is acceptable to them as well as to their spouses now to consider their weight gain as a sign of good health until they become pregnant.

Obesity, right from the first month of pregnancy has its own disadvantages. The fatty tissues in the abdomen make it difficult for the expanding uterus, as the months advance exert great pressure on the bladder & bowels, disturbing the function of these waste eliminating organs. Wrong conceptions about the needs of a pregnant woman that she should eat double the amount of food to feed her and her child to be born and she should rest and relax more to preserve her energy for the time of labour. Nothing is near the truth, because the correct way of sensible eating & mild exercises & activities till the time of delivery facilitated a normal & comfortable delivery of a healthy child.

While in some cases there is reduction in weight after childbirth, in other, the young mothers keep gaining weight & remain obese for the rest of their lives. Generally two reasons can be attributed for obesity after childbirth. If normal delivery of the child is not there then this deprive the young mother of normal activities & exercises after delivery, resulting in the uterus not shrinking as it should, and gradually distention of abdomen takes place. The additional nourishment consumed undergoes poor digestion and the weight keeps increasing.

Some young mothers despite normal delivery gain weight steadily because they are fed on fatty & starchy food in place of proper nutritious food under the erroneous notion that the weakness caused by labour can only be compensated by a rich diet. Sometimes young mothers, after delivery is also make rest more than it is necessary. Just as exercises is a must till almost the last stages of delivery for easy delivery, mild exercise after delivery is necessary for the contraction of the uterus to its original size. But exercise becomes more difficult if there is a weight increase. There fore, obesity worsens the condition.
Women, who use contraceptive devices, oral contraceptives on a regular basis also tend to become obese. This is due to the effect on the hormones contained in those drugs.


Some women tend to gain weight during their menopause. Due to hormonal imbalance, obesity sets in, even though they had maintained normal weight previously. Menopause is a natural phase in a woman’s life. Some women seek medical solutions in the form of hormone supplement for their irregular monthly cycles, disturbing symptoms & mild discomforts. Obesity caused by hormone pills is a bit difficult to get rid unlike other forms of obesity. Yet unani medicines successfully treated these hormone pills related obesity.

Mind over body:

Some women suffer from obesity for identifiable psychological reasons that manifest themselves as expressions of their underlying unhappiness and for no other reason. Such persons feel unwanted at home & outside. They develop severe complexes, become discontented with every one around & become indifferent towards anything & everything. They lose interest in every activity, which provide a pleasant diversion. In such cases, unless the under lying cause is attended to, they remain obese. Whenever they feel tense, overcome with unknown fears they seek a diversion in frequent eating. This type of eating gives them only a false sense of their tension being eased. At such times due to the absence of actual hunger, they resort to eating snacks, which please their palate. This naturally ads bulk the body.

Hormonal influence:

Endocrine glands are organs, which pour internal secretion into our blood. But for these glands, the growth of our body & mind becomes defective & results in various disorders & diseases, obesity being one of them. The glands produce some chemical substances, which are called hormones. Hormone is a circulating chemical substance that is capable of acting on distant organs from its original site. The glands that function in a unique way need a mention in this chapter because a few glands & other functions are responsible for causing obesity. These are the pituitary, thyroid, adrenals, pacers & gonads.
Hormones are the agents that stirrup activity and bring about psychological changes in our behavior & bodily functions. Abnormal conditions of our health, is the direct result of an excess or deficient secretion of these hormones.

Overeating or Binge Eating:

Among the glands, the pituitary is the master gland that governs all other glands. It somewhat hangs from the hypothalamus which is at the base of the brain. It monitors the activities of the other glands to produce exactly the correct amount of their respective hormones.

Hypothalamus is a group of neurons that act as the centre for appetite, the stimulation of which results in the sensation of hunger. If there is an abnormal function of this appetite centre in the hypothalamus, obesity is caused due to overeating.
Obesity also results if the hormones that the pituitary gland secretes are deficient. One notable feature of this deficiency is along with causing obesity the height of the person gets retarded particularly in the case of growing children. Girls stay short and stout and the onset of menses is delayed or absent for a very long period. In cases where this gland is overactive and secrete hormones in excess of what it should, the person grows to an abnormal size. This is known as gigantism.
The second gland that contributes obesity is the thyroid. This is situated in the neck. A deficiency in the hormones secreted by these gland results in the speedy division of cells. Such an increase in the number of cells cause obesity.
The third gland is the adrenals. These are two in number & are situated above the kidneys. The hormones that these glands, secrete, control our emotions anger, fear, etc. Excess secretion of these hormones, or when these hormones are administered in massive doses cause a severe disorder known, as Cushing’s syndrome. This is also known by the name moon face. Any tumor or inflammation in this gland also causes Cushing’s syndrome. The person so afflicted bloats to abnormal proportions & becomes the victim of various other disorders too, like hypertension & diabetes.
The pancreas is a very important digestive organ that secretes the digestive pancreatic juice and an essential endocrine hormone the insulin. Insulin is very essential in sugar metabolism. The stored fat from the refined carbohydrates & sugar due to the abnormal sugar metabolism result in obesity.
In some cases, if the sex hormones secreted by the ovaries in females are deficient during menopause, obesity results. Administering hormones further adds to the bulk. So is the case after hysterectomy in some women.

Food Addiction:

Addictions are of many types. All of us are addicted to something without even knowing why & how we are addicted. Generally tobacco, alcohol, drugs like opium & heroin are thought to be the things which a person gets addicted to. But most of us are unaware of an equally serious addiction that is addiction to food. Different people are addicted to some food items. Some are addicted to carbohydrates in the form of rice or even wheat, some to spicy food, some to sweets, some to fast food & other commercial food. There are persons who get addicted even to bread & milk. Individually those foods as an addiction, to any one of these, may be harmless without visible discomfort. If abstained from, or lesser quantity of particular type of food is taken, one may feel some sort of all gone sensation in the stomach or suffer other withdrawal symptoms. But once they are introduced again, the withdrawals may disappear. As in any other addiction, the more one eats, the more the food is relished. The craving for eating keeps increasing day by day.

Withdrawal fears:

Addiction to overeating is a serious problem, because it causes obesity. Overeating unwittingly begins at a very young age when it can be easily controlled or got rid of. But on being ignored or even encouraged, it reaches a stage when withdrawing or controlling it becomes extremely difficult. We often see persons overeating the type of food they are fond of addiction to isolated food items can be considered quite harmless compared to addiction to overeating. Bur if that isolated food happens to contain more calories than the isolated food happens to contain more calories than the food requires, addiction to that particular type of food will definitely be difficult to control. In case that particular food is not available, something else will be sought which gives the satisfaction of eating the missing one. On some cases there are no such cravings for high calorie food like sweets and other processed food. A person simply eats anything that is available till his stomach is uncomfortably full. Less quantity of food makes the individual restless until her eats again after a few minutes interval.
The underlying cause for such overeating lies basically with the abnormal functions of the endocrine glands and the amount of hormones they produce. Availability of food in abundance is another reasons why addiction overeating is difficult to handle.

In general to men & women:

Sometimes, competition creates greater enthusiasm to eat more, at times it happens that just for the sake of it, people over eat when they are in company. But all this leads to progressive addiction to food. When a person is engaged in some work the need to eat is not felt much as it is when he sits idle watching games, sports or even while chatting or traveling. Having nothing else to do, they indulge in eating every now and then.

Addiction substitutes:

Addiction to drugs, cigarettes & alcohol also cause obesity but not in every one. Sometimes, to quit the habit of
smoking or drinking, some people seek substitutes happen to be food, which are high in calories. They seem to be mostly chocolates, other sweets or tasty fast food. Some psychological reasons can be attributed for such behavior. Most of the persons who decide to give up smoking or drinking have a feeling that by abstaining from these, they are depriving themselves of the pleasure they derive by indulging in them. They also feel that they should eat more of such food lest they should suffer from physical weakness. If they are advised or forced by others to quit smoking or alcohol, they almost invariably feel that they are obliging others by giving it a try. Therefore, they wish to compensate by eating what they like most, but not what could be a productive substitute.
Drugs that contain mercury & arsenic are prescribes for a variety of diseases. These if taken on a regular basis, result
in obesity.

To read more about being over-weight, read more about Obesity.