Body Fat and Eating Disorders essay

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Body Composition and the Risks Associated with Excess Body Fat

Body composition denotes the percentage of the body that is made of water, proteins, minerals and fat. However, in the two-component model of body composition, only the ratio of fat to non-fatty tissues is considered. In the body, the total amount of fat that is necessary for optimal health ranges between 10 and 25 percent in men and 18 and 30 percent in women (Kravitz & Heyward, 2012). It is higher in women because of the childbearing function. In optimal fitness, the body weight that is accounted for by fat is 12-18 percent in men, and 16-25 percent in women. Generally, obesity occurs in men when fat makes more than 25 percent of the body weight and in women when it accounts for more than 30 percent. The body mass index (BMI), which is a factor of body weight and height, is used to estimate body composition and predict related health problems (Prevention, 2011).

The health risks associated with excess body fat are numerous. When fat-stores are stretched to their limit, excess fat begins getting deposited in such places as blood vessels. This is a recipe for health disasters. Excess body fat is associated with diabetes type 2 and heart disease. Stroke is also a complication that may arise as a result of corpulence. Obese people tend to have hyperlipidemia, increased blood pressure and diabetes, and these are all risk factors for stroke. Furthermore, an increased incidence of cancer has been associated with excess body fat.

Factors That Influence the Obesity Epidemic

The fraction of the population that suffers obesity has reached epidemic levels. The causes of fatness in the population include age, gender, genetic factors, certain illnesses, physical inactivity and eating habits.

The metabolic rate slows down when a person ages. People are thus likely to accumulate more fat in their system. Women store more of fat, and their resting metabolic rates are slower than that of men. Therefore, women easily accumulate more of fat than men. Genetically, human beings tend to inherit the body stature of their parents, and obese people are likely to pass the trait down to their children. Illnesses such as hypothyroidism, depression and illnesses in the brain that cause excessive eating can also cause obesity. Age, gender, genetics and illnesses are all factors upon which one can exert only minimum control. On the other hand, physical inactivity and eating habits are causes of obesity, and one can exercise direct control over these causes of the analyzed phenomenon.

Health Problems Associated With Eating Disorders

Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and binge eating are regarded as diseases because they fulfill the criteria for the medical description of diseases. They all have serious health consequences.

Anorexia nervosa is a cycle of self-starvation. In the process, the body is denied vital nutrients that it needs for normal functioning. Hence, the body slows down its metabolic processes in a bid to conserve the little that is available. Consequently, the heart may slow down, and the risk for heart failure gets elevated (Grohol, 2010). Also, low blood pressure caused by low heart rate and dehydration could occasion a kidney failure.

Bulimia nervosa involves binge eating and purging by inducing vomiting. This can lead to problems within the digestive system. Such problems include fluid and electrolyte imbalance, a phenomenon that could cause far-reaching problems in many body organs. Binge eating could result in obesity. Related health consequences are high blood pressure, high levels of cholesterol and its associated risks like stroke and diabetes. 

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