Effect of Metabolism, Hormone Levels and Genetic Differences on Body Weight

Why can the consumption of food affect some people’s body mass in a more negative way than others?

INTRODUCTION

Different factors determine the body mass of an individual. Among these factors are overeating, low movement rate, poor food choices, metabolism, low exercise levels, a decrease in the levels of self-control, poor sensitivity to food cues, genetic differences, hormone levels, a person’s sensitivity to them, and many other factors. As a result, the body mass of various individuals differs as people are affected by a variety of the above mentioned factors. Having dissimilarities in body masses among the populace has resulted in the classification of people into separate categories. This has largely been propagated by the mass media. The most common form of classification is based on the size and shape of an individual. This has given rise to people being classified as obese, fat, pear-shaped, or thin and skinny. Although there seems to be a direct correlation between food consumption and the body mass of an individual, food consumption seems to affect every individual in a different way. In some cases, it results in an increase in body mass while in other instances this negative effect is not observed despite even excessive consumption of different foods (Malesky). This fact suggests that some internal factors at play and they directly link food consumption to increase in body mass. While food serves to provide the body with excellent energy sources and important biomolecules that are required for growth, its utilization in the body and the subsequent effect on the body mass is determined by various factors. This paper aims to discuss the influence of food consumption on different levels and speed of body mass gain, as well as the importance of metabolism, hormone levels and genetic differences in this process.

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METABOLISM

Metabolism is frequently regarded as a process blamed for excessive weight. However, truly speaking, is metabolism the wrongdoer? Metabolism refers to the breakdown of foods into energy. It is made up of two important processes: anabolism and catabolism. The latter refers to the synthetic formulation of any biomolecules with the use of energy while the former is referred to as the breakdown of biomolecules to produce energy. The basal metabolic rate denotes the daily energy that is utilized by the body in carrying out the normal physiological processes (Mayo Clinic). These include running, breathing, blood circulation and many others. The basal metabolic rate is used even when the body is at rest, with the most common example being when an individual is sleeping. Slower metabolic rates have been stated to be the main cause of the noted weight differences between various individuals. However, this is not the case as weight gain has several determinants and not a single factor. Dietary intake and physical activity have been implicated in determining the body mass of an individual.

There are several aspects defining the basal metabolic rate in individuals. First on the list is the size of the body. Larger body sizes would mean that it has to produce more calories to maintain the activities and thus cause high metabolism rates (Mayo Clinic). The gender of an individual is another issue that predetermines the body weight. Males have more muscles compared to females and as a result, burn more calories hence increasing the chance of having a leaner body. Age is another factor that affects the basal metabolic rate. As one gets older, they have fewer muscles and fats, and consequently, the amount of calories normally burnt down during the day decreases. The other factors that participate in regulating the basal metabolic rate include hereditary issues, hormones, temperature, psychological state, and body composition (Weight Loss For All). Differences in specific genes have various roles in affecting the metabolic rate of particular individuals. Some genes influence the uptake and utilization of food products. Temperature has proved to play a part in determining the basal metabolic rate. When the body is cold people normally shiver, in the process generating extra heat that is used to produce energy to be utilized by the body. In the same manner, when it is hot the body produces heat during physical activity, and as a result, sweat is produced in the process of work of the cooling mechanism (Weight Loss For All). Stress and anxiety are also tasked with an important mission of mediating the amount of heat produced during such physiological events.

Most factors that affect metabolism have a direct impact on the body mass of an individual. It is true to note that metabolism is directly linked to accumulating or losing weight as indicated by a study conducted by Moran who investigated the relationship between weight loss and slower metabolism rates among individuals who were considered as obese. The result showed that indeed two people with the same diet and build could experience the same physiological changes due to their difference in the physiological rate. In this case, dieting was identified as one of the major factors that determined the metabolic rate of the individuals. In essence, it meant that slower metabolism might not be the cause of the variation noted among people, but rather other aspects related to metabolism could be the main cause of it (Moran). Although metabolism may affect the body energy needs, other constituents such as the amount of food intake and the level of physical activity do define how much an individual will weigh in the end.

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The type of food consumed by an individual greatly influences their body mass (Moran). In many case, it is it thatwill determine whether an individual will have a negative or a positive body mass indicator. Some foods are commonly broken down by the body more easily as compared to other products, and as a result, they are quickly metabolized within the body. Foods that are more likely to exist as single molecules are broken faster and if not utilized in the energy-generating process, they risk accumulating in fats and resulting in the increase of the body mass. A study on mice carried out by Parker revealed that the consumption of high fructose corn syrup increases their weight. In this study, the experimental mice group was fed on the standard diet and the high fructose corn syrup while the control group was fed on table sugar which is largely sucrose (Parker). After some days, the mice which consumed the high fructose corn syrup had higher weight as compared to the other control group due to two major reasons. First, the high fructose corn syrup contained metabolized fructose as a single entity in the body, and the process did not require the extra metabolic stages as those necessary for table sugar which had to be broken down into fructose and glucose before being utilized in the body. The corn syrup is directly stored in the form of fats owing to the speed of its absorption (Parker). This means that an individual who consumes such artificial syrups risks developing larger body masses as compared to others despite the metabolic state of the body. High corn syrup is just one of the foods that has been claimed responsible for the difference in body weight observed among various individuals. Other artificial sweeteners and products such as saccharin in the diet have also been regarded influential in acquiring higher body mass (Moran). Food additives such as saccharin and emulsifiers have been mentioned in several cases as playing an important role in determining the body mass of an individual as well as significant factors affecting the main cells regulating the sugar levels in the body (Parker).

Apart from the diet, physical exercise is one more factor that determines the weight of an individual. Specifically, an increase in body mass is associated with a higher calories intake compared to a calorie breakdown. Physical activity performs an intricate function in this case as it remains one of the major ways in which the weight of an individual is controlled. An increase in physical activity is responsible for the breakdown of fats in the body. Since in most cases, excess carbohydrates are commonly stored as fats in the body and result in accumulation of extra masses, physical activity plays a vital role in the breakdown of fats though not all forms of physical activity are equally useful in mediating the effects of fats in the body. Studies indicate that physical activity in the first 24 hours does very little in assisting an individual to reduce the amount of fat present in their body (Melanson et al. 94). Long-term exercise, on the other hand has proved effective in its reduction and making bodies leaner.

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Although metabolism is directly linked to weight gain in individuals, it is determined by several other factors such as the type of dietary intake and physical exercise. These two factors are believed to be crucial in defining the role played by metabolism. Metabolism is affected by numerous factors though the factors mentioned above have been referred to as the most influential. The amount of calorie intake during food consumption as well as the intensity of their physical training shape the bulk of the body mass of an individual (Moran).

HORMONE LEVELS

Hormones are one of the major causes of weight gain. A person can find him/herself confused because of being stuck in a parallel universe, eating and exercising right, but not losing weight. This is an ultimate nightmare of every person wishing to get rid of extra kilos. Hormones are the chemical substances that are produced in one, often a very small, organ but act in a different place and affect the whole body. This action is commonly referred to endocrine action. There are several different hormones that influence body mass. These include sex hormones such as estrogen and progesterone, as well as other ones such as a growth hormone playing an important role in controlling the growth levels of every cell in an organism (Loyola University Health System).

Hormone levels refer to different quantities of hormones in the body. Normally, they are stored in different organs within the body and produced and released when the correct signal is given. Hormones levels are also regulated by a variety of methods including negative and positive feedback mechanisms. The release of hormones is caused by a range of factors such as happiness, excitement, or stress levels among many others. The presence and increase of some types of hormones is directly linked to the in body mass or weightsurge. Hormone levels affect people at all ages, though there are certain stages where the elevation of some hormones results in a more drastic weight acquisition (Loyola University Health System).

As aforementioned, hormone levels are affected by a number of determinants. High-stress levels induce the release of hormones associated with high appetite and as a result more consumption of food. This is more common in women than in males. In males, elevated stress levels result in an increase in physical activity which leads to a decrease in body mass levels. Certain physiologic conditions also affect the release of specific hormones. For example, hormones are released during the menstrual phase of women. They may have an especially strong effect on the body mass in women who have reached the menopause phase and those who are currently pregnant. If hormones levels are controlled during these stages, then there is a likelihood that the body mass will be significantly reduced.

An increase in different hormones results in a specific effect on the body. The elevation in the hormone called leptin is typically known to boost the desire for food consumption. Higher levels of the hormone are present in obese individuals compared to people with normal weight. The hormone which normally controls the urge to eat does so by acting on the specific centers in the brain causing the feeling of hunger.

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Sex hormones increased levels have also been blamed for higher body weight. Estrogen levels are quite low in the end of the cycle, except for in women who are in menopause, which results in the cessation of ovulation (Body Logic MD). This decrease in levels of estrogen causes the body to search for alternative sources of estrogen with the most common ones in this case being fat cells. Here, the body converts most of the calories to become fat in order to raise the estrogen levels in the body, logically causing an increase in weight. Another hormone that has the same effect is progesterone. The levels of this hormone commonly decrease during the menopause stage and do not cause an increase in weight, but result in bloating and water retention (Body Logic MD). High levels of testosterone in the body are associated with an accumulation of the muscle mass in both men and women. The formation of these muscles burns calories and consequently causes high metabolism levels. During the normal phases of growth, especially during the adolescent stages, the high levels of testosterone in males bring about an increase in the body size. Similarly, during the adolescent stages in the females, the high levels of estrogen hormones result in the same effect (Body Logic MD).

Another hormone that has elevated levels during this stage is the growth hormone. The levels are quite high during the developmental phases of growth. People who have high levels of growth hormone have been noticed to grow much faster as compared to the other people with normal indicators of it in their organism. In most cases, people who are obese have been found to have high levels of growth hormone. The elevated levels of cortisol are associated with high-stress levels leading to better metabolic processes in relation to proteins, fats and carbohydrates and the subsequent reduction of weight.

There are several reasons as to why some hormone levels are elevated and thus result in in a higher body mass. First, sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone are required for the secondary sexual characteristics in both males and females. In most cases, their levels differ significantly among various individuals and as a result cause an increase in the body mass (Better Health Channel). The changes in hormone levels can be provoked by such factors as stress, sickness, age, and environment alterations. Then an increase in the body mass is noted. Numerous factors including exercise influence growth hormone levels. The elevated levels of them take an active part in an increase of body size and mass. Food consumption is one of the environmental factors that can be both cause and effect in the above process (Better Health Channel). Excessive eating boosts hormone production. In effect, the individuals who have higher levels of growth hormones consume more food. According to numerous research, the individuals who have higher levels of leptin hormone have been observed to consume high food levels due to the effects of the hormone that causes a desire to eat more (Better Health Channel).

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A decrease in weight is also associated with a reduction in the hormonal levels. Oestrogen and testosterone levels decrease in women who are in and past the menopause stage. Estrogen levels have been implicated to play an important role in determining the body size (Better Health Channel). However, in post-menopausal women the estrogen levels are low and result ,in the decrease of the body mass. Similarly, older men body mass is lower compared to young men or men at their prime ages due to the decrease in the levels of testosterone. Insulin resistance and stress have proved the major reasons as to why women lose weight (Better Health Channel). Insulin resistance occurs when the body converts all calories into fat causing weight accumulation (Better Health Channel). In this case, the effect of the hormone insulin is not felt at the target site whether the levels are high or low.

Today, hormone levels in the body can be readily balanced. Normally, the internal physiologic mechanisms mediate the secretion and inhibition of hormone in the body on their own. Within the body, there are specific inhibiting and releasing mechanisms that play a role in determining whether a specific hormone can be released from the gland and into the body or not (Better Health Channel). Anyway, since there can be disruptions of this process due to the reasons depicted above, there are different methods that can be utilized to control the hormonal levels. Some methods include physical exercise, regulating the levels of stress, and getting the right quantities of various nutrients.

GENETIC DIFFERENCES

Genes are the most commonly known determinants of skin, eye, and hair color, as well as many other distinctive features a person inherits from their parents. This has led to the belief that weight gain speed and volume can also caused by genetic differences. It is now considered by numerous scholars that weight gain and loss are affected by a variety of issues including both genetic and environmental factors. Genes are DNA sequences that produce specific products such as proteins which play a key role in performing essential functions in the body. Genes have an effect on the body weight of an individual as most of them code for specific protein products that have the potential to define whether an individual has the predisposition to the increase or decrease of their weight. There are two classes of genes. Some are housekeeping while others are constitutive. The housekeeping genes facilitate physiological processes within the body while the constitutive genes are activated at specific times within the body. Genes are largely affected by mutations which may cause the activation of specific events or processes which may result in a weight gain or loss (Malesky). Genes are normally inherited from both parents meaning that some of the body features seen in parents can be passed down to the next generation. In some cases, there are families that are noted to have large body masses because of the genes that have been passed from the past generation. Nonetheless, environmental factors can well play a decisive role in determining the weight of an individual regardless of genetics.

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Genes work by producing proteins that have an effect on various metabolic processes. Some of the genetic products normally give signals within the body which results in the initiation of the relevant processes in it. For example, there are specific genes that control weight acquisition or reduction. The leptin gene, commonly referred to as the obesity gene, regulates the need of the particular amount of food intake (Sifferlin). When the gene is translated, it produces proteins that regulate the appetite levels in the body. These genes are predominant in the body, especially in the case of obese individuals. It is suppressed in individuals who have lean bodies. The other good examples of the genes that perform the regulatory function concerning the weight of an individual are ghrelin and neuropeptide Y. Ghrelin is an appetite hormone that makes food more desirable, especially the foods that contain high-calorie levels (Sifferlin). The gene product produced increases the appetite and causes an increase in the levels of food that is consumed by a person. Neuropeptide Y is another gene product that triggers or manipulates the appetite and as a result causes the changes in the mood and stress levels (Sifferlin). It also results in increased fat deposition coming from fat calories.

Genetic difference is a term that refers to the dissimilarities noticed in separate people. In this case, genetic differences can be used to explain why body masses vary from person to person. There are several different genes that have been implicated in individuals with large body masses. These genes are absent in individuals who have leaner body masses or are suppressed due to environmental effects. Some genes that are associated with larger body masses or increased weight and obesity include APOA2 which has been mentioned to have a notable effect in boosting the appetite levels as well as determining the body mass index of different individuals (Hellman). This is not the only gene that has been linked to increasing body weight in individuals. Other genes that have been shown to have the same effect include genes like Mrap2 Gene (Sifferlin). Interestingly, its standard form the gene has no effect and represses the effects associated with the increase in body weight. In its mutated forms, however, it is known to have an impact on the rise of fats that are stored within the body and not utilized. The increased deposition of fats within the body is associated with an increase in the body mass levels leading to having obesity. The basic genetic peculiarities noted in individuals who have larger body masses and are obese are slightly different from those who have leaner bodies. The genome-wide analysis has shown that there are insignificant variations between the two categories (Hur et al. 1466). This differences in the genes being subtle have, nevertheless, the potential to shape the priorities in food consumption among various individuals causing the acquisition of different body masses.

Genetic differences have been known to play an important part in determining the weight of different individuals. The genetic information embedded in the DNA of a person can be expressed in a variety of ways predetermining their food consumption habits and hence weight gain or loss. For example, there are genes that have been blamed for increasing or decreasing the weight of individuals through the increased or lowered deposition of fats in the body resulting in an accumulation of excessive mass in the body or its reduction. Secondly, there are genes that provoke generally higher appetite levels while other increase the desire for the consumption of specific food products that have high amounts of calories. The genes mentioned above are commonly inherited from closest relatives who are also predisposed to being obese or skinny (Malesky).

Genetic differences can be dealt with using a variety of mechanisms. Most of the mechanism are based on inhibiting the gene products that have been formulated in the process of changes within the body. Also, since a person is constantly subjected to influences of the environmental factors around them, they also have a role to play in mediating some of the effects of the aforementioned genes. Some of these genes work only after mutation, with the predominant example being Mrap2 gene (Hellman). The effects of the genetic differences can, however, be modified through eating habits, physical exercise, lifestyle, stresses, hormonal, or environmental alterations.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, food consumption directly affects the body mass of different individuals in various ways. The main reasons for the differences in the effect of food consumption on people’s weight are driven by the rate of metabolism, hormone levels, and genetic differences. Though there are numerous different factors that regulate the body mass of an individual, these three defining aspects have been noted to be common for all people. These three issues have different effects on the body. Metabolism has a direct link to the body mass or weight of an individual but is affected by numerous different factors. There are several essential factors that affect the metabolism of an individual with the basal metabolic rate being the most influential. Hormones are chemical compounds that have effects on the body. Hormonal levels differ considerably in individuals and these have a huge impact on their food consumption preferences and consequently weight. Genetic differences have proved to have their specific influence on determining the eating habits and body mass of people as well.