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Obesity - Prevention and Treatment 

Today, obesity is a global health problem and increasing day by day around the world. Obesity is not just a cosmetic concern, but it is a complex health disorder which involves excessive body fat. It increases the risk of many diseases like diabetes, heart problems, and joints problems. Many individuals are suffering from obesity and may not be aware of it. Weight stigma is also attached to the Obesity which can cause severe mental health issues.

What is obesity?

Obesity is defined as a medical condition that is associated with an excess amount of body fat to the extent that can cause adverse effects on health. Obesity is generally measured by Body Mass Index (BMI) or Obesity BMI. A person is declared obese if his or her BMI 30 or greater than 30.

How we measure obesity?

Obesity is defined as excess adipose (Fat) tissue. There are several different methods for determining excess adipose tissue:

1.     Body Mass Index (BMI) -- The most common method to measure the obesity is calculating is the Body Mass Index (BMI) (see below).

A person is considered as obese when his/her body mass index (BMI) is 30 or higher. You can calculate your Body mass index (BMI) by dividing your weight in kilograms (kg) by your height in meters (m) squared.

 Weight (Kgs) ÷ Height (meters) 2 = BMI

Obesity BMI Range

Status of your weight

Below 18.5

Underweight

18.5-24.9

Normal

25.0-29.9

Overweight

30.0-34.9

Obese (Class 1)

35.0-39.9

Obese (Class 2)

40.0 and higher

Extreme obesity (Class 3)

 

2.     Waist Circumference

Waist circumference is also a process to determine abdominal fat content. Men with a waist measurement of 40 inches or and Women with a waist measurement of 35 inches or greater are considered at risk.

Causes for obesity

Causes of Obesity can be genetic, behavioral and hormonal as per the underlying cause, but it occurs when you consume more calories than you burn through exercise and normal daily activities. So your body stores these excess calories as fat.

In general, the Primary causes of obesity are:

  • Unhealthy eating habits and diet - Diet, which is high in calories and full of junk food and carbonated beverages lead to obesity.
  • Inactivity - Physically inactivity can lead to an excess of calories deposition in the body as fat. Due to a sedentary lifestyle, your body can easily take in more calories every day than it uses through exercise and normal daily activities.
  • Unhealthy eating habits and diet - Diet, which is high in calories and full of junk food and carbonated beverages lead to obesity.
  • Genetics - As per scientist, genetics play a major role in obesity. Genes can be responsible for certain disorders which can result in obesity.

 

Secondary Causes- Certain health conditions can also responsible for weight gain:

  • Hypothyroidism - an underactive thyroid gland can slow the metabolism of the body which can lead to fatigue, weakness and weight gain.
  • PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome PCOS is a systemic disease, which affects 6% to 8% of women of reproductive age. It can lead to Weight gain and difficulty in losing weight.
  • Cushing's syndrome -- It’s a disease responsible for overproduction of the hormone cortisol by the adrenal glands and is characterized by weight gain in the upper body, face, and neck.
  • Prader-Willi syndrome It is a rare genetic disorder in which people always feel hungry and so they always want to eat constantly.

 

Risk factors

Combination of causes and contributing factors may result in obesity, including:

  • Obesity and Genetics -- Genetics play a major role in how efficiently your body converts food into energy and how your body burns calories during exercise.
  • Family lifestyle -- Obesity tends to run in families. If one or both of your parents are obese, your risk of being obese is increased as family members tend to share similar eating and activity habits.
  • Inactivity -- Sedentary lifestyle and physical inactivity contribute to weight gain.
  • Unhealthy diet -- A calories rich diet with full of junk food and high-calorie beverages and which don’t include fruits and vegetables contributes to weight gain.
  • Certain medications -- Some medications like antidepressants, anti-seizure medications, diabetes medications, antipsychotic medications, steroids, and beta blockers increase the risk of obesity.
  • Social and economic issues -- Your obese friends and relatives may influence your lifestyle and food habits which results in obesity in you.  Lack of proper space or safe areas to do exercise may lead to obesity. Similarly, if someone is not having money to buy healthier foods can lead to an unhealthy diet and thus may lead to obesity.
  • Age -- In general, there is no age bar for obesity to occur. A person can be obese at any age(like childhood obesity), but as you age, hormonal changes and a less active lifestyle increase your risk of obesity.
  • Obesity and Pregnancy -- Weight gain is common in pregnancy, but some women find it difficult to lose weight after the baby is born. This weight gain can cause the permanent development of obesity in women.
  • Lack of sleep -- Not having enough sound sleep or getting too much sleep can cause changes in hormones which increase your appetite, which can contribute to weight gain.

You can avoid most risk factors through a healthy diet, physical activity and exercise, and behavior changes.

Complications

Obesity is not just a cosmetic problem; it is a major contributing factor to a number of serious, potentially life-threatening health conditions and complications, including:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart problem
  • Stroke
  • High triglycerides and cholesterol (bad cholesterol)
  • Cancer – it can be any part of the body
  • Breathing disorders like difficulty in breathing
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Infertility and irregular menstruation in women
  • Impotency, Erectile dysfunction and other sexual problems in men
  • Liver diseases like fatty liver
  • Osteoarthritis and other joints disorders

 

Quality of life

Obesity can diminish your overall quality of life. The person starts avoiding the social gatherings. He/She may not be able to do things, which were used to do previously, such as participating in enjoyable activities. Obese people may even encounter discrimination.

Some weight-related issues that may affect your quality of life include:

  • Social isolation
  • Depression
  • Shame and guilt
  • Disability
  • Sexual problems
  • Lower work achievement

 

Prevention

Whether you are obese or not, you can take steps to prevent unhealthy weight gain and related health problems.

  • Do exercise regularly -- Regular exercise helps to prevent weight gain and obesity effects . It also keeps you fit and energized.
  • Monitor your weight regularly -- Monitoring your weight can help you to detect any small weight gains so that you can act on time and your efforts will not go in vain.
  • Follow a healthy eating plan -- Take low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid saturated fat and limit sweets and alcohol.
  • Be consistent -- Stick to your healthy diet (Obesity Diet) and healthy-weight plan throughout the week, as much as possible to increases your chances of long-term success.
  • Develop good habits --  Try to do even just 10 or 15 minutes of some calorie-burning activity, such as walking around the block or up and down a few flights of stairs at work. Again, every little bit helps.

 

Obesity Management and Treatment

According to naturopath Dr. Jyoti Singh, a person may need to consult different health professional including a dietitian, naturopath, behavioral therapist, yoga instructor, and obesity expert, to achieve a healthy weight. Consulting an expert can help you to adopt healthy eating and exercise habits and develop strategies to address any emotional and behavioral issues that may lead to weight gain and unhealthy lifestyle habits.

Apart from taking preventive measures, you can go for natural medicines/herbs like Garcinia cambogia, Phytolacca berry, Green Tea etc. for losing the extra weight in a healthier way. 

Once you've lost weight, try to maintain your healthy weight by doing the regular physical activity and adopting healthy eating habits.