Obesity

 

Obesity is the excess accumulation of total body fat. The condition occurs when the caloric intake exceeds energy usage. It is a chronic condition that is emerging at an alarming rate throughout the world, posing a high risk of developing many life-threatening diseases.

Obesity is one of the major health issues that has been causing adverse effects on the overall quality of life of individuals.

Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of your weight in relation to your height and is used to determine if you are underweight, of normal weight, or overweight or obese.

Causes

Obesity may be caused due to one or more of the below mentioned factors:

  • Family history: The genes inherited from your parents can affect the amount of fat stored in your body. Your chances of being obese are higher if your parents are obese.
  • Environmental factors: Lack of exercise, busy work schedule, eating large quantities of food (especially junk food) can all contribute to weight gain.
  • Energy imbalance: If the amount of energy or calories you consume is more than the amount of energy spent, you will tend to gain weight.
  • Sedentary lifestyle: People leading a sedentary or inactive lifestyle are more likely to become obese as they do not burn the calories they consume.
  • Disease conditions: Hormonal disorders such as hypothyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome, and polycystic ovarian syndrome may cause weight gain.
  • Medicines: Certain medicines for conditions such as corticosteroids, antidepressants and seizures decrease the rate of metabolism, increase appetite and retain excess water in the body.
  • Emotional factors: Unusual eating habits such as excessive eating when under stress or anger can contribute to weight gain.
  • Age: Aging results in muscle loss in the bodyespecially if you are inactive.

Consequences

Obesity is associated with major health risks such as:

  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Arthritis and other joint problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Gallbladder disorders
  • Cancers such as breast, uterine and colon cancers
  • Digestive disorders
  • Asthma and other breathing disorders
  • Fertility and pregnancy problems
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Shorter life expectancy compared to people of normal weight

Obesity influences your psychological and social well-being

  • Negative self-image
  • Social isolation and discrimination
  • Depression

Obesity affects your overall quality of life

  • Difficulty moving quickly affecting your normal day-to-day tasks
  • Experience breathlessness and tiredness more quickly
  • Difficulty in maintaining personal hygiene

Treatment

Non-Surgical Treatment

  • Diet and exercises: Your doctor recommends regular physical exercise combined with healthy eating habits to control your weight. Physical activity helps to control your weight by burning excess calories that otherwise would be stored as fat.
  • Medications: Your doctor may prescribe weight-loss medications, which are “appetite-suppressants”, promoting weight loss by decreasing your appetite. Weight-loss medications should be used only when there are increased health consequences because of your weight and not for cosmetic purposes.

Dieting, exercise, and medication have long been considered conventional methods to reduce weight. In those who are morbidly obese however, these methods may be successful in the short-term, but results rarely last. This can translate into what is called “yo-yo syndrome,” which is characterized by the continuous loss and regain of weight which increases the chances of serious psychological and health consequences.

Surgical Treatment

Gastrointestinal surgery for obesity, also called bariatric or weight loss surgery, has been proven to be a successful treatment method for morbid obesity. The surgery changes the normal digestive process and promotes weight loss by decreasing the absorption of nutrients and calorie intake. Some of the common weight loss surgeries include:

Post-operative care

Weight loss after surgery is gradual: about 1 to 2 pounds per week. The success of the surgery depends on how well you adopt healthy lifestyle changes. Your post-operative diet should include clear liquids, followed by soft foods and a slow transition to regular food.

Exercise to maintain weight loss:

Exercising regularly for at least 30 minutes a day helps in the long-term success of weight loss. You can also include walking, running, swimming, aerobics and hiking in your regular activities.

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