How does obesity affect the endocrine system? A narrative review
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Obesity is a chronic, relapsing medical condition that results from an imbalance of energy expenditure and consumption. It is a leading cause of preventable illness, disability and premature death. The causes of obesity are multifactorial and include behavioural, socioeconomic, genetic, environmental and psychosocial factors. Rarely are endocrine diseases, e.g., hypothyroidism or Cushing's syndrome, the cause of obesity. What is less understood is how obesity affects the endocrine system. In this review, we will discuss the impact of obesity on multiple endocrine systems, including the hypothalamic-pituitary axis, changes in vitamin D homeostasis, gender steroids and thyroid hormones. We will also examine the renin angiotensin aldosterone system and insulin pathophysiology associated with obesity. We will provide a general overview of the biochemical changes that can be seen in patients with obesity, review possible aetiologies of these changes and briefly consider current guidelines on their management. This review will not discuss endocrine causes of obesity.
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