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OBESITY - A Chronic Disease or a Lifestyle Problem?

Obesity is a growing health concern in different countries including India. It affects people of all age groups and backgrounds. It is defined as an excess of body fat and is typically measured by body mass index (BMI). Obesity is not just a cosmetic concern, but a chronic disease that can have serious health consequences if left untreated. In this blog post, we will explore the causes of obesity, whether it is a lifestyle problem or a disease in itself, and the risks associated with it.


What is Obesity?


Obesity is a health condition in which the human body gets an excessive amount of body fat. It is typically measured by body mass index (BMI), which is calculated by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by the square of their height in meters. A BMI of 25 or higher is considered overweight, while a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese. Obesity is a chronic disease that can have serious health consequences if left untreated.


Causes of Obesity


Obesity can be caused by a variety of factors, including hereditary, lifestyle changes, hormonal problems, and certain medications.


  • Hereditary: Obesity can run in families, and research suggests that genetic factors may play a role in the development of the disease. Studies have shown that people with a family history of obesity are at a higher risk of developing the condition themselves.
  • Lifestyle changes: A sedentary lifestyle and poor dietary habits can contribute to weight gain and the development of obesity. Many people consume more calories than they need, and do not engage in enough physical activity to burn them off.
  • Hormonal problems: Hormonal imbalances can also contribute to the development of obesity. For example, people with hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid gland) may have difficulty losing weight despite making lifestyle changes. Additionally, people with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) often have difficulty losing weight and may be at a higher risk of obesity.
  • Medications: Certain medications can cause weight gain, such as certain antidepressants and anti-seizure medications. It is important to talk to your doctor about the potential side effects of any medication you are taking.


Is Obesity Just a Lifestyle Problem or a Disease in Itself?


Obesity is a complex disease that can be caused by a combination of factors, including genetics, lifestyle, and hormonal imbalances. While lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, can be effective in treating obesity, it is not simply a matter of "willpower" or personal responsibility. Obesity is a chronic disease that requires medical attention and ongoing management.


Risks Of Obesity 


Obesity can have a wide range of negative effects on the body, from head to toe. Some of the most common health problems associated with fat people include:


  • High blood pressure: 

Obesity can cause an increase in blood pressure, which can put a person at risk of heart disease and stroke.


  • High cholesterol: 

Obesity can cause an increase in cholesterol levels, which can put a person at risk of heart disease.


  • Diabetes: 

Fat people have a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes, which can cause serious health problems if left untreated.


  • Metabolic syndrome: 

A group of conditions that occur together, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, are known as metabolic syndrome. This syndrome can contribute to fatty liver disease, an increased risk of stroke and heart attack, and other health problems.


  • Indians and Asians Should Pay Extra Attention

Indians and Asians have a higher risk of obesity-related health problems, particularly if they gain 15-20 kg of extra weight. This is due to their unique genetic makeup and cultural factors that may contribute to weight gain, such as a diet high in carbohydrates.


  • Infertility and PCOS Issues in Women

Obesity can also cause infertility and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in women. PCOS is a condition that affects the ovaries and can lead to irregular periods, difficulty getting pregnant, and other health problems.


  • Obesity Can Lead to Cancers

Obesity can increase the risk of several types of cancer, including breast cancer, colon cancer, and endometrial cancer. Being overweight or obese can also make it more difficult to detect and treat cancer.


  • Obesity Impairs the Quality of Life 

Obesity can also have a significant impact on a person's quality of life. The extra weight can cause joint pain, particularly in the hips, knees, and ankles. This can make it difficult for people to engage in physical activity, which can further exacerbate their weight problems. Additionally, obesity can lead to a lack of self-esteem and self-confidence, which can affect a person's mental well-being.


  • Childhood obesity

Young people who develop diabetes at a young age should be extra careful and address the problem as soon as possible. Being overweight is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes, and young fat people may be at a higher risk of complications. They should take steps to lose weight and improve their overall health.


How To Manage Obesity?


Managing obesity is a complex process that requires a multifaceted approach. There are several options for managing obesity, including lifestyle changes, medication, and surgery.

  • Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes are the foundation of obesity management. This includes adopting a healthy diet and regular physical activity. A healthy diet should include a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, and should be low in sugar, saturated fats, and processed foods. Indian diets often emphasize on carbs diet, which can contribute to weight gain. To lose weight, it is important to reduce carbohydrate intake and include more protein in the diet. This can include foods such as fish, poultry, and lean meats. Additionally, reducing the intake of high-calorie foods such as mithai, namkeen, and chawal, roti can help to reduce calorie intake.


Regular physical activity helps to burn calories and improves overall health. Every person should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise per week. A regular 30 mins brisk walk also does good. This works for childhood obesity too.

  • Medication

Medications can be used in conjunction with lifestyle changes to manage obesity. There are several medications that are FDA-approved for the treatment of obesity, including orlistat, lorcaserin, and phentermine-topiramate. These medications work by suppressing appetite or increasing feelings of fullness. It is important to note that medications should not be used as a replacement for lifestyle changes, but rather as a supplement to them.

  • Surgery

Surgery is an option for people with severe obesity who have been unable to achieve weight loss through lifestyle changes and medication. Surgery is a serious decision and should only be considered after a thorough evaluation by a weight loss specialist.

Medanta Medical Team
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