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Wednesday , 19 December 2018
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Obesity: A major risk factor for developing serious health complications

World Obesity Day is observed in various parts of the world on October 11. The term ‘obese’ describes a person who is overweight, with a lot of body fat. It is a common problem in the developed nations, but in India it is becoming a problem of concern majorly due to unhealthy lifestyle.

India is following the footsteps of other developing countries that are steadily becoming more obese, with obesity affecting 5% of the country’s population. With easy access to processed food in the country due to global integration of food market, there is an increase in consumption of high sugar and low nutrition diets.

With changing lifestyle, people are more stressed than before. Irregular sleep cycles and anxiety disorders is one of the main reasons of being obese. Studies show that in India, nearly 15% to 20% of children are overweight and 30% are in the risk of falling in this category. It is these statistics that ring major alarm bells; and as per recent reports as high as 60% to 70% may continue to be overweight or obese in adulthood.

Obesity is generally caused by eating too much and moving too little. Obesity doesn’t happen overnight. Unhealthy eating habits tend to run in families. It develops gradually over time, as a result of poor diet and lifestyle choices, such as:

  • Eating large amounts of processed or fast food and – that’s high in fat and sugar
  • Drinking too much alcohol – alcohol contains a lot of calories, and people who drink heavily are often overweight
  • Eating out a lot and eating larger portions than actually needed –The amount of food that we take in a restaurant as a starter or dessert is higher in fat and sugar. Drinking too many sugary drinks such as soft drinks and fresh juices also adds too obesity
  • Comfort eating –People suffering from low self-esteem or depressed eat a lot to feel better

Sedentary lifestyle of people is yet another factor related to obesity.  Many people have jobs that involve sitting at a desk for most of the day. If you are not active enough, does not use the energy provided by the food we eat, and the extra energy we consume is stored by the body as fat leads to obesity.

Symptoms of Obesity:

Obesity can cause a number of problems, including difficulties with daily activities and serious health conditions. Day-to-day problems related to obesity include:

  • Breathlessness, increased sweating, snoring, difficulty in doing physical activity, feeling very tired, joint and back pain and feeling isolated, low esteem and depression.

Being obese can also increase the risk of developing many potentially serious health conditions, like:

  • High cholesterol, asthma and atherosclerosis (where fatty deposits narrow the arteries), which can lead to coronary heart disease and stroke
  • Metabolic Syndrome and several types of cancer – a combination of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity
  • Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD) – where stomach acid leaks out of the stomach and into the oesophagus (gullet)
  • Gallstones – small stones, usually made of cholesterol, that form in the gallbladder
  • Sleep Apnoea – a condition that causes interrupted breathing during sleep, which can lead to daytime sleepiness with an increased risk of road traffic accidents, as well as a greater risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease and osteoarthritis a condition involving pain and stiffness in joints
  • Infertility
  • Pregnancy complications, such as Gestational Diabetes or Pre-Eclampsia (when a woman experiences a potentially dangerous rise in blood pressure during pregnancy).
  • Oseoarthritis
  • Lower back ache
  • Diabetes

Management of Obesity:

Management of obesity is a multidisciplinary approach. It includes dietician, physiotherapist, physician, endocrinologist, pulmonologist, cardiologist and psychiatrist. Weight loss surgery, also called bariatric or metabolic surgery, is sometimes used as a treatment for people who are excessively obese. It can lead to significant weight loss and help improve many obesity-related conditions, such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure.

By: Dr. Sathish N

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