There is much more than meets the eye when it comes to obesity. At Foothills Weight Loss Specialists in Knoxville, we believe that the condition can often be a biological response to the modern environment.

Commonly as a society, we view weight gain and weight loss in correlation with either eating too much and not exercising, or eating healthy and getting adequate exercise.

“This perception is referred to as the energy balance equation,” says bariatric surgeon Dr. Mark Colquitt. “This simplistic view on how we gain and lose weight can be very problematic and ineffective for those trying to fight obesity because there are so many other factors at play.”

Below is a breakdown of the energy balance equation.

Energy Balance Equation

  • If the number of calories you consume equals the number of calories you burn, your weight remains the same.
  • If you consume more than you burn, you gain weight.
  • If you burn more than you consume, you lose weight.

Obesity: A Biological Response to the Modern Environment

While this seems like quite a simple, logical equation, it is actually more complex, and weight loss or gain does not necessarily work this way.

“We aren’t always capable of controlling the equation voluntarily, because our brains regulate our calories in to our calories out,” says Foothills bariatric surgeon Dr. Jonathan Ray.  “This process happens when the brain receives signals from certain hormones, such as leptin.”

Leptin, which instructs your brain how much energy your body has stored and regulates energy and expenditure, is just one of many hormones the brain reacts to. A myriad of hormonal signals plays a role in communicating with your brain.

“Our bodies have a complex system to regulate energy and expenditure within a set point range for body fat,” says Dr. Colquitt. “Basically, if you are trying to lose weight and try dieting, you lose weight and your hormone levels change. You brain responds to this by attempting to restore the weight you’ve lost. This often results in feeling hungrier, and you’re burning fewer calories. This happens because the primary goal of losing weight does not translate to the brain. The brain simply knows it must restore your body to its original energy set point.”

The Modern Environment

So, what is the “modern environment”? It is a combination of factors that contribute to the rising rate of obesity. While no single factor is responsible for obesity, these are the modern environment factors that play a role:

  • Western diet
  • Decreased activity and lack of exercise
  • Changes to chemical and nutrient content of our food, more processed food
  • Increased stress
  • Decreased healthy sleep (interrupted and inadequate)
  • More widespread use of pharmaceuticals

A body fat set point that is too high, combined with the modern environment, results in an individual having very challenging time with successful weight loss. According to many studies, bariatric surgery is an effective way to alter that body fat set point.

“Diet alone may fight against the set point, not yielding long-term results and improved health. Bariatric surgery has the ability to modify the set point, changing hormonal signals, which in turn helps the patient lose weight and keep it off,” explains Dr. Ray.

Learn more about the energy balance equation by watching this video. If you’d like to learn more about how bariatric surgery may help you successfully lose weight and lead a healthier lifestyle in the long term, call us at 865-984-3413 or attend one of our free seminars.