Obesity is the gateway for all types of chronic diseases, its time we stop spreading this epidemic…
Symptoms of Obesity
Weight gain usually occurs over time. Most people know when they’ve gained weight. Some of the signs of overweight or obesity include:
Clothes feeling tight & needing a larger size
Weight gain as compared to previous measurement
A higher than normal body mass index
Extra fat around the waist
Other symptom may be:
- Psychological problems such as low self–esteem, low confidence level
Feeling tired even with routine activities
Low Confidence Level
Inability to cope with sudden physical activity
Back & Joint pains
Low Self Esteem
Risks Factors of Obesity
Without proper treatment obesity can lead to various health problems as dyslipidemia, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis, cancer, infertility, sleep apnea.
Type 2 Diabetes
Coronary heart disease
Obesity doesn’t occur overnight. It develops gradually over time when there is disturbance in energy balance. Energy balance means that “energy in” through food intake and “energy out” through physical activities. Consuming excess calories from high-fat foods, sugars and doing little or no daily physical activity over the long time will lead to weight gain. The reasons for the imbalance between calorie intake and energy out may vary from individual to individual.
Genetics may play a role in conversion of food into energy and how body burns calories during exercise. Genes may affect the amount of fat storage and distribution of fat in body.
A person is more likely to develop obesity if one or both parents are obese. Overweight and obesity tend to run in families not just because of genetics but family members tend to share similar eating and activity habits. Children’s choices, diet and physical activity habits are influenced by their surrounding environment.
Diet rich in calories (fast foods), high calorie beverages, oversized portions, bad eating habits (eating between meals, preference to sweets, refined foods, and fats), diet lacking with fruits and vegetables; all these factors contribute to weight gain.
With a sedentary lifestyle such as sedentary occupation and inactive recreation (watching television) more calories are stored in the body every day than used through exercise. Thus sedentary lifestyle promotes weight gain. If there is any associated medical problems such as arthritis can lead to decreased activity; that contributes to weight gain.
Quitting smoking is often associated with weight gain. However, smoking is a serious health risk, and quitting is more important than possible weight gain.
Men have more muscle mass and use more calories (even at rest) than women. Thus, women are more likely to gain weight as compared to men with the same calorie intake; however midlife weight gain in women is mainly due to aging and lifestyle, but at menopause hormonal changes also play a role in weight gain.
Women gain weight during pregnancy and, some women find it difficult to lose weight after child birth. This weight gain may contribute to the development of obesity in women.
Lack of sleep
Not having enough sleep or getting too much sleep can cause changes in hormones that may increase appetite and craving for foods high in calories and carbohydrates, which can contribute to weight gain.
- Health conditions – Some medical conditions may cause overweight and obesity because of hormonal disturbances such as hypothyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome and poly cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
- In hypothyroidism there is lack of thyroid hormone that slows down the metabolism and causes weight gain.
- PCOS is a condition that affects women of childbearing age. It is often associated with obesity due to high levels of androgens.
- In Cushing syndrome there is increased production of cortisol hormone from adrenal glands.
- Medicines – Certain medicines such as corticosteroids, antidepressants and medicines used for seizure control may cause weight gain.
- Emotional factors – For some people, eating habits are influenced by emotions such as sadness, stress, boredom or anger and they react by eating excessively.
- Age – Obesity can occur at any age, even in young children. Infants with excessive weight have increased chances of obesity in later life. As age increases, muscle mass tends to decrease and some hormonal changes also occur; these factors along with less active lifestyle increase the risk of obesity in later age.
- Environment – If environment doesn’t support healthy lifestyle, it encourages obesity. Some reasons include
- Lack of neighborhood sidewalks, parks, and safe places for recreation prevents people to be physically active.
- People working with long work hours and time spent commuting don’t have enough time to be physically active.
- Lack of access to healthy foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, or, for some people these healthy foods are too costly.
- Lack of awareness about healthy diet and healthy cooking practices.
- Food advertisements for high-calorie, high-fat snacks and sugary drinks promote people to buy them.
- There are two different kinds of distribution of body fat that play a role in determining risk of obesity – related health problems.
- Excess body fat distributed around the waist (apple-shaped figure, intra-abdominal fat)
- Excess body fat distributed on the hips and thighs (pear-shaped figure, fat under the skin)
- Fat collected around the waist (apple-shaped figure) carries more risk for obesity related health problems.
Management of Obesity
For most people who are overweight or obese, the safest and most effective way to lose weight is setting goals with lifestyle changes such as eating fewer calories and being physically active. If lifestyle changes are not enough then only medicines and weight loss surgery are options. While suffering from any co-morbid condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis consult your physician prior to starting life style changes.
Set realistic goals:
- The best way to lose weight is decrease it slowly. A weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds a week is safe and will give the time to adopt new healthy lifestyle changes. Hence 5-10 percent of current body weight can be loosed over six months time.
- If a child in the family is overweight or obese, the focus should be to encourage him for healthy eating habits and physical activity and if any health condition related to overweight or obesity is present, pediatrician should be consulted.
(a) Life style changes:
Life style changes include healthy eating habits and physical activity.
(i) Healthy eating habits
(ii) Physical activity
(iii) Behavioral changes
(b)Prescription anti-obesity drugs
(c)Weight loss surgery
(d)Vagal nerve blockade
Prevention of Obesity
At least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity physical activity on most days reduces the risk of obesity.
Eating a healthy diet can help in preventing obesity
Increase consumption of fruits, vegetables, pulses, whole grains, legumes & nuts
Regular physical activity helps maintain a healthy weight