In the context of health, physical fitness and medicine, weight loss is the reduction of one’s total body mass. This is most often referring to a loss of body fat or adipose tissue. However, weight loss can also refer to a decline in fluids, bone mineral deposits, muscle tendon and other connective tissue. There are several causes for this body mass decline. Weight loss is most commonly considered to be fitness related. Therefore, a person who feels overweight or is in a competition requiring a lower body mass, there is a conscious effort to undergo physical activities that help a person lose weight. This is sometimes referred to as “slimming.” That said, weight loss can also occur due to malnourishment. It may even be health related and caused by an underlying disease. A serious medical condition called cachexia is weight loss not causes by reducing calorie intake or increased exercise.
Unintentional Weight Loss
When a person loses body fat, fluids, muscle or a combination of these without trying, this is called Unintentional Weight Loss. This is considered a medical problem with 10% of a person’s body mass is last in the past 6 months or if 5 % is lost within the last month. BMI (Body Mass Index) is used as a tool to indicate if a person’s weight is healthy for their body or not.
Unintentional weight loss can occur for a number of reasons. These causes include:
- Disease Processes
- Changes in Metabolism
- Hormonal Changes
- Disease/Treatments/Reduced Appetite
Poor nutrition can lead to weight loss. This can also be caused by fistula in the gastrointestinal tract, diarrhea, drug-nutrient interaction, enzyme depletion and muscle atrophy.
Chronic weight loss can decline into wasting. This is a condition that is vaguely defined called Cachexia. Starvation and Cachexia are not the same. This is because Cachexia, a progressive disease, involves a systematic inflammatory response. It results if far worse outcomes. In the advanced stages of Cachexia, the metabolism can change so that weight loss continues despite adequate nutrition. This can lead to Anorexia Cachexia Syndrome (ACS). In the case of ACS, additional nutritional supplementation is unlikely to be beneficial.
Nutrient Deprivation Affects:
- Immune Response
- Wound Healing
- Muscle Strength
- Repertory Muscle Function
Intentional Weight Loss
Weight that is intentional is caused by the conscious effort for a person to reduce total body mass through fitness and diet. This is often done to help improve health, strength, athleticism or to change physical appearance. Weight loss can help obese individuals reduce health risks, increase fitness and can delay diabetes. It can also help reduce pain and increase mobility in of those suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee. It can also decrease hypertension otherwise known as high blood pressure. However, it is unclear whether or not this decreases the damage caused by hypertension.
Weight loss occurs when the amount of energy expended exceeds that of which is required to sustain body mass. This can occur through reducing caloric intake through nutrition. It can also occur through the increase in physical exertion via exercise.
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