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Definition of Obesity and Overweight

Obesity refers to a body state of excess mass of adipose tissue. The Body Mass Index (BMI) is the most common measure whose guidelines of measure are spelt by the World Health Organization; BMI refers to the excess of a body’s total fat. According to WHO, there are various groupings of individual’s weight that primarily give the distinction between obese and overweight people. Normal individuals have a BMI ranging between 18.5-25 kg/m2, obese individuals have a BMI of 30kg/m2, morbidly obese individuals have a BMI of above 35kg/m2. However, major health authorities define overweight people as those with a BMI of 25-30kg/m2 (Heslehurst, 2007).

Effects of Obesity on Hormonal Function, Metabolism, and other Bodily Process

Statistics from the US department of health underscore the seriousness that obesity poses to an individual’s health. Overweight and obesity top the list of preventable deaths with over 300,000 deaths per year. In addition, they increase the risk of death to over 50% in comparison to normal people. Obesity is fundamental in disrupting the regulatory network of a body hence causing hormonal and metabolic dysfunction. For regular metabolism, the body requires integration of various physiological functions. Additionally, a number of hormones coordinate these functions such as insulin, epinephrine, leptin, glucagon, cortisol among others. Obesity causes derangement of these hormones and essentially disrupts normal metabolism. Consequently, various health concerns and dysfunctions such as reproduction abilities, diabetes, pulmonary, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer among others are associated with obesity.

Obesity and Age at Menarche

Various studies confirm that reproductive problems at adolescence and early adulthood have a developmental root. Obesity is a key developmental issue closely related to age at menarche; menarche refers to the first menstrual period. Body fat is associated with menarche and only minimum body fat is requisite for a girl. However, higher fat levels synonymous with obese girls’ leads to earlier puberty thus, early menarche and a higher risk of PCOS.  The consequence is chance of puberty distress, chances of breast cancer, insulin resistance among other health distresses (Gillman & Poston, 2012).

Obesity and Fecund Ability

Fecund ability is a couple’s chance of conceiving within a given cycle. It’s disruption of hormonal balance through its interactions with adipose cells, ovaries and the pituitary glands. The endocrine changes result in lower fecund ability. Due to the above highlighted effects on the menstrual cycle and thus, the reproductive capacity of a woman, obesity lowers the chances of conception by disrupting the systematic lineage of hormones. However, there are still no studies or knowledge focusing on precise measures of fecund ability. All the existing studies turn to other clinically relevant and observable measures. Such a gap requires more research to furnish studies with finer details.

Obesity and Menstrual Function

Obesity is a common problem associated with poor and irregular menstrual cycle resulting from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) with over 30% of obese women reporting irregular cycles. Normally, in an ovulation cycle Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) stimulate follicle growth, theca cells produce testosterone in response to Luteinizing Hormone (LH), while insulin like growth factor II (IGF-II) responds to Gonadotropin stimulation. This culminates in maturity of the follicle and ovulation. However, obesity is associated with PCOS which, is an imbalance creating on the feedback system of the hormones above. Obesity thwarts the hormonal process through fat cells which weaken estrogen thus suppressing FSH release; this prevents development of a follicle to maturity (Benson, 2006). This process goes on through an array of hormones such as androgen, SHBG, among others. This culminates in irregular, missed or abnormal periods.

Obesity and Pregnancy Outcomes

Obesity predisposes a mother to adverse outcomes of a pregnancy.  As a major risk factor in the practice of obstetricians, it raises the chances of stillbirths, development of pregnancy complications such as high blood pressure, blood clots, developmental abnormalities of the child among other life threatening probabilities (Yehezkel, 2004). This is because; it distorts the balance of hormones and the natural process of reproduction. As such, adverse pregnancy outcomes become likelihood due to pathologies such as high leptin levels, hyperandrogenism or insulin resistance arising from obesity effects on hormonal balance and functioning.

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