Diseases related to Body Weight and Composition

Around 10-20 percent of body fat is the healthy range in men and 18-28 percent in women. Any changes in the values beyond this range are considered as indicators of developing a disease. The composition of the body depends on the following four components:

Total body fat density

Fat-free mass density

Bone mineral density

Body water density

The total body fat is required for carrying out functions of the brain, nervous tissue, bone marrow, and heart tissue. The adipose tissue helps in the storage of fat and serves as a factory of energy. The fat can occur in two forms, subcutaneous and visceral fat, which are considered non-essential body fat.

Fat-free mass is defined as lean body mass and is present in skeletal muscle, heart, and other organs. It includes protein, water, and small amounts of minerals and is considered essential body fat.

Bone mineral density is composed of 50% water, and 50% solid matter comprising of protein and minerals, which accounts for around 12-15% of the total body’s weight.

Around 60% of an adult’s weight is contributed by the water.

Weight Control Mechanisms
The body controls weight by regulating appetite influenced by appetite centers in the brain’s hypothalamus region. It contains hunger, satiety, and temperature control centers that stimulate eating behaviors, inhibit hunger centers, and increase body temperature to prevent appetite. Further hypothalamus, liver, and other organs sense and schedule nutrient regulation by glucostatic, lipostatic, and aminostatic theories. For instance, in glucostatic signaling, food intake is induced under low blood glucose levels, and intake is shut down under high glucose conditions. Further, as per lipostatic theory, food intake is increased under low levels of fats in the blood while the intake is decreased under high-fat levels. Similarly, food intake increases under low levels of protein in the blood while intake reduces when high proteins are present in the blood, as per aminostatic theory. In addition, energy expenditure also controls an individual’s weight. The body expends energy every day in two ways, basal or resting expenditure and physical activity. Brown and white fat contribute to energy expenditure by a mechanism of non-shivering thermogenesis. In addition, hormones from the thyroid and adrenal glands regulate the same and contribute to weight control. Further, short-term and long-term feedback controls exist for energy balance, where short-term mechanism includes energy balancing based on the size of the stomach, neural, hormonal, and nutrient inputs. On the other hand, the long-term feedback mechanism, mainly driven by the leptin hormone, involves a set-point theory that is pre-programmed by the hypothalamus to maintain a certain weight for each individual.

Diseases related to Body Weight and Composition
When there is a change in the body composition, it results in alterations in the body weight leading to weight gain or weight loss. One such condition is obesity, which is caused due to higher caloric intake when compared to energy expenditure. It is caused due to the influence of genetic and environmental factors. In the former case, obesity is inherited due to genetic disruptions in weight-control genes, leading to fewer leptin receptors and a lack of certain uncoupling proteins responsible for thermogenesis in body fat. On the other hand, environmental factors include alcohol consumption, smoking, high intake of calorie and fat-rich foods, lack of physical activity. Fat deposition occurs mainly because of hyperplasia and hypertrophy, which leads to increasing the number and size of fat cells, respectively. The rapid surge in obesity is mainly due to environmental factors that include lifestyle changes. In this condition, the set-point theory is believed to be modified based on gene flexibility and their interactions with the environment. In the U.S, around 15% of children are obese, and an additional 15% are in the overweight category and at a high risk of becoming obese.

Weight loss is commonly due to malnutrition and dehydration and is caused primarily due to poor calorie intake, exercise, exposure to heat, usage of diuretics, and laxatives. In addition, several genetic factors such as Yo-Yo syndrome and several hormonal drugs are shown to be involved in weight loss.

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