World Obesity Day 2020

Steph Wagner

March 4, 2020

World Obesity Day


A day focused on awareness of obesity as a complex disease

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“The Roots of Obesity Run Deep” World Obesity Day 2020

I love the images and words used on the World Obesity Day webpage. It starts with a large banner that says the roots of obesity run deep.

Why would obesity need awareness? Aren’t we all aware that our nation struggles greatly with extra weight?

Side note, is anyone else tired of news stations using the same stock clips of people from the waist down who struggle with the disease of obesity?

The roots they have listed included (and I image not limited to) biology, food, genetic risk, healthcare access, life events, marketing, mental health, sleep and stigma.

Even just reading over that list starts to put it into perspective that this disease is not just about willpower and pushing away from the table. It is a disease that needs awareness and not just a discussion on the percentage of obesity in the nation.

Hormones and Hunger

The more I read about appetite and hunger hormones in the body, the more I am amazed at how intricate and complicated metabolism really is.

Is it still all about calories in and calories out?

If only it were that simple. It is a true scientific math equation but hunger hormones like ghrelin are coming into play. Excess fat cells in the body can cause leptin resistance (the hormone that makes you feel satisfied).

Leptin and ghrelin are just two hormones in the mix.

By the way, leptin was the first hunger/satiety hormone discovered and it was found in 1994.

1994!!! That blows my mind. Only twenty-six years ago the very first hormone related to appetite was discovered. How much more is there for us to learn about the hunger and appetite functions of the body?

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Genetics and Obesity

Genetics play a role too.

For one, someone might have more ghrelin than another person because of a gene variant. That pre-portioned plate of food might be enough for one person and a struggle to stay full for someone else. Is it still about a lack of willpower?

Some genetic variants might mean someone has less dopamine receptors. Dopamine is a brain hormone that allows you to feel pleasure. Eat a delicious meal and you will release dopamine. This is a good thing!

The struggle with dopamine is that high fat and high sugar foods are shown to release even more of it, making them more addictive. (By the way, studies show a high protein breakfast releases dopamine without the same after-meal cravings.)

If someone’s genetics mean they have less dopamine receptors, that person might be more susceptible to addictions. Food, drugs or alcohol. This is why transfer addiction is such an important topic for bariatric surgery providers to discuss with their patients.

The point is, obesity is complicated

Once again, I love that this year’s World Obesity Day phrases it as “the roots of obesity run deep.”

I believe there will be a day that more understanding will come in our society that obesity is a disease with many roots. A day when there is more compassion than judgement. More support and cheer-leading than unsolicited advice that doesn’t fit everyone.

If obesity is complicated, the treatment is complicated. There is no one size fits all approach. We have different personalities, different bodies, different preferences.

Weight loss surgery does play a big part in all of this. It’s a wonderful course of treatment and a tool that can be tapped into for hunger control and weight loss. It’s not a “easy way out” but a wonderful tool to treat and manage a complex and dangerous disease.

Sign the Declaration

Happy World Obesity Day! Visit the website and sign the declaration to “urgently request that national and local governments work to understand the ROOTS of obesity and use them to take more effective action on this disease.”


Some information in today’s blog is found in greater detail in this article “Appetite Hormones” by Marsha McCulloch, MS, RD, LD


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