Obesity is a chronic and severe lifestyle disorder in which excess fat accumulates in the tissues of the body to an extent that it triggers numerous health problems.
The current incidence of obesity in the adult population across the world is alarmingly high, with more than 700 million adults over the age of 18 years getting afflicted by this condition. This accounts for a significant proportion, of nearly 10 per cent of the total global population.
Although obesity is predominantly a lifestyle disorder, prompted by unhealthy eating, insufficient sleep and lack of exercise, in some instances it develops due to genetic factors or pre-existing health anomalies.
Obesity is particularly harmful once it triggers numerous other illnesses in the body, such as diabetes, heart disease and gynaecological complaints. Nevertheless, it is a reversible condition that can be successfully treated, by adhering to a healthy, active lifestyle, unless it manifests in very severe forms, wherein prescription medicines and surgery may be necessary.
Obesity negatively influences the quality of life of the affected person, leading to tendencies of shame, guilt, low self-esteem, sexual problems and depression. It also gives rise to type 2 diabetes, cardiac ailments, digestive disorders and even cancer. Also Read: Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
It is hence essential to immediately seek professional medical treatment for obesity, to lose excess fat and attain a normal, healthy weight and promote optimal body functions.
Eating more calories than what is consumed by the body processes and burned as energy, in daily activity and exercise, coupled with a very sedentary lifestyle, causes obesity. Over time, these extra calories accumulate in tissues, organs, with very high levels of weight gain.
The most common causes of obesity include:
- Eating a poor diet of foods high in fats and calories
- Having a sedentary, lethargic and inactive lifestyle
- Not sleeping enough, which can lead to hormonal changes that constantly stimulate hunger sensations and cravings for sugar-rich, salty, oily and high-calorie foods
- Genetics, which can affect the body’s metabolism and how fat is stored
- Ageing, which can lead to less muscle mass and a slower metabolic rate, making it easier to gain weight
- Pregnancy, as weight gained during pregnancy, can be difficult to lose and may eventually lead to obesity
Certain medical conditions may also lead to uncontrolled weight gain. These consist of:
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): a condition that causes an imbalance of female reproductive hormones
- Prader-Willi syndrome: a rare condition that an individual is born with which causes excessive hunger
- Cushing syndrome: a condition caused by having an excessive amount of the hormone cortisol in your system
- Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid): a condition in which the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough of certain important hormones
- Osteoarthritis: degeneration of joints and bones with age
Various attributes predispose an individual to become obese, such as:
- Leading a sedentary lifestyle at work and home
- Bad addiction habits of smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol
- Lack of sufficient hours of sleep regularly
- Extreme levels of mental stress and tension, due to work-related or personal reasons
- Inherited conditions from parents, other family members or close relatives
There are no distinguishing symptoms to detect the onset of obesity before it presents itself with a massive increase in body weight. When a person prominently displays vast storage of fat in body organs and tissues, either suddenly in teenage or adulthood, or right from childhood, they are considered to be obese.
Healthcare professionals use a metric known as BMI (Body Mass Index) to figure out the extent of obesity in a person. The BMI is calculated by dividing the weight of the individual in kilograms, by the height of the individual in metre squared. i.e. kg/m2
When BMI is below 18.5, the person is underweight. Healthy body weight to height ratio is having a BMI between 18.5 to 22.9. While a BMI in the range of 23 to 24.9 indicates overweight, a value of 25 and above means the person is suffering from obesity.
Diagnosis And Treatment:
Calculating the BMI of a person, as well as the waist circumference helps the doctor analyse the extent of obesity in the patient. He or she will also enquire of the person’s lifestyle habits, to gauge how physically active they are daily. Body vitals such as heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature are examined and blood samples are collected, to test for any underlying abnormalities.
The treatment for obesity primarily involves dietary modifications to consume more fibre and protein-rich meals, with ample portions of fresh fruits and vegetables for essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The medical expert also suggests at least one hour of intense exercise every day. The main goal is to stick to a disciplined way of life and imbibe positive habits. Also Read: Lost Weight? Here Are Tips To Sustain It
In case obesity is rather grave, with a BMI of 30 or much higher, the doctor prescribes some recommended medications to stimulate weight loss. In some circumstances, an endoscopic procedure or bariatric surgery is done, to remove excess fat from the body of the obese person.