Obesity is the accumulation of excessive fat in the body, which cannot be used. Obesity can be calculated using BMI. Values lying between 25 and 29.9 are categorized as overweight, while those lying above 30 are obese. Values above 40 are considered to morbidly obese and are associated with high mortality and various comorbid conditions. Obesity has now taken on epidemic proportions. It is a result of sedentary lifestyle, lack of physical activity or certain therapeutic medications. Obesity adversely affects thyroid functions, reproductive hormonal levels, insulin levels and causes arthritis. These conditions further potentiate the problem of obesity, thus, creating a vicious cycle.
Health problems associated with obesity are:
- Coronary heart disease: Obesity is often found alongside hypertension and high cholesterol. Both of these contribute to fatty plaque formation in the vessels and damage to coronary vessels. This interrupts the flow of oxygen rich blood to the heart muscles. It can lead to heart attack or heart failure.
- Stroke: When these plaques form in blood vessels of the brain and coalesce to form clots, they disrupt the blood supply of the brain leading to stroke and paralyisis.
- Type-2 Diabetes: Obesity is associated with high insulin resistance and high blood sugar. This can later on lead to blindness, nerve damage or kidney failure.
- Cancer: Of late researches have time and again proven that obesity induced inflammation and high hormonal levels make patients more prone to develop certain cancers.
- Sleep apnea: Overweight individuals tend to snore more heavily while sleeping. It is due to blockade of air passages causing infrequent breathing. It may increase chances of heart disease and stroke in sleep.
- Respiratory diseases: The accumulation of abdominal and visceral fat limits the diaphragmatic descent. It reduces chest wall flexibility, saps out the respiratory muscle strength, narrow airways and inflammatory proteins damage airways. This can lead to disorders like asthma and emphysema.
- Reproductive functions are hampered due to hormonal resistance and imbalances. PCOs are extremely popular in obese females.
Obesity is like a disease that needs to be managed on time to prevent its vast multitude of complications. To promote weight loss and shed off extra kilos these methods have been implicated:
- Sweat it out: Increased physical workout with a special emphasis on cardiovascular exercises helps to lose weight effectively. Adding in muscle training exercises helps to strengthen muscles.
- Curb down the carbs: A diet rich in protein and complex sugars, vitamins and minerals with low quantities of processed and simple carbohydrates and trans fats goes a long way to keep your weight in check. Remember that you can never outrun a bad diet.
- Medical therapy: Certain drugs like growth hormone analogues like ocreotide are used for weight loss treatment. This is used only in obese patients with proven resistance to diet and exercise.
- Surgical weight loss:
- Liposuction: It is a cosmetic surgery that has more to do with changing the body contours rather than treating obesity. High number if complications make it less preferable.
- Bariatric surgery or stomach stapling is highly effective method, which reduces the size of the stomach. It also removes the hunger hormone known as ghrenalin. This helps to curb appetite.
The bottom line is that obesity harms every aspect of life, from shortening the life span and contributing to life threatening diseases to hampering sexual life and interfering with breathing, cognitive functions and mood. But it isn’t a permanent condition. It can be treated effectively with diet, exercise, medications or surgery. Prevention of obesity at earlier stages can lead to vast improvement in personal and public health and save billions of dollars spent on treating diseases.