Obesity: A Growing Epidemic
Old airport road, Bengaluru Oct 13, 2017
According to a report by WHO in 2014, 39% of adults aged above 18 years are overweight and among them 13% are obese. The numbers have been increasing exponentially since 1980. Obesity has now become a global epidemic. In both developing and developed countries, obesity is a major cause of poor health and life-threatening health conditions.
Even in a low and middle-income country such as India, obesity affects a large number of people. According to WHO, this is because children consume foods which are high in fat, sugar, and salt, and low in nutrition. In the year 2000, the number of obese adults reached over 300 million, which is an alarming situation. If immediate measures are not taken, millions of people are going to suffer from obesity-related health issues in the near future.
What is obesity?
Obesity is the accumulation of excess fat in the body tissues. In technical terms, when the BMI (Body mass index) is 30 or above, the person can be considered to be obese.
What causes obesity?
Although the reason for obesity is primarily excess calorie intake and fat deposition, there can be other factors at play:
- Sedentary lifestyle: This kind of obesity is mostly seen in the urban population. People who have limited physical activity and consume high-calorie meals often gain weight due to the unspent calories that get converted into fat.
- Genetics: Studies indicate that the chances of a person being overweight increases by 25% if one or both the parents are obese. Genetics play an important role in the tendency of an individual to accumulate fat in a particular part of the body like the abdomen, hips etc.
- Metabolism: There are some people who eat a lot and do not gain weight. This is due to their high metabolism rate. Metabolism is one’s ability to spend energy. Although the function of the body remains same, the metabolic rate differs from individual to individual. Hormones play a great role in this too.
What are the risk factors of obesity?
People with obesity are bound to suffer from the repercussions of being overweight. Obesity can cause several health issues such as:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Coronary heart disease
- High blood pressure
- High LDL and low HDL cholesterol levels
- Sleep apnea
- Fatty liver disease
- Cancers of gallbladder, colon, breast, kidney, and liver
- Clinical depression
Obesity can affect several other functions of the body such as hair growth, the condition of the skin and even breathing.
Prevention of obesity:
Obesity is an easily preventable disease. It is possible by monitoring your weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Here are a few lifestyle changes to prevent obesity:
- Avoid junk food: It is very important to avoid eating junk food. Such foods are high in carbohydrates, salt, and sugar. These are excess calories that the body cannot burn with routine activities. These are converted into fat and contribute to weight gain. Hence, it is best to avoid them.
- Avoid aerated beverages: Aerated beverages contain a high amount of added sugar. High sugar levels are hazardous for the body.
- Exercise regularly- Make sure you exercise at least for half an hour a day and for at least 3 days a week. This will not only help you maintain your weight but also helps in building strength and increases the basal metabolic rate of your body.
- Add fresh vegetables and fruits to your diet- Adding fresh fruits and vegetables to your everyday diet nourishes your body with the essential nutrients. They are also rich in dietary fibers which keep the gut clean and healthy.
- Keep your colon clean- Did you know a clogged colon can lead to weight gain? It is very important to keep your colon clean. If you are constipated and have trouble in passing your bowels and you should seek medical help. Eat foods which are high in fiber content and keep yourself well hydrated to have a regular and healthy bowel movement.
The only way to lower the risks of obesity-related health issues is by maintaining the body weight proportional to your height. This relation between the height and weight of a person is also known as Body Mass Index (BMI).
Understanding weight loss:
There are a lot of theories, methods, practices, and supplements which help in weight loss. With obesity becoming an epidemic, weight loss is becoming a much sought after health advice. In order to successfully lose weight in a safe way, we need to understand what weight loss is from a biological point of view.
- First, we need to understand that obesity is not just a lifestyle-related issue anymore. It is a disease that needs more than just willpower in order for it to be treated.
- Everybody spends a certain number of calories daily in order to function. This depends on their Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and the energy spent on physical activities.
- The body has deposited the fat over years and will require time to burn it. There is no quick-fix solution to this problem.
The calorie equation:
Weight loss can be understood easily from a calorie equation.
Weight loss = Calories consumed- BMR calorie spent by physical activity
To lose weight,
- Calories consumed must be lower (Not lower than minimal intake)
- BMR must be high
- Calories spent by physical activity must also be high.
Low-calorie meals help in reduced intake of calories. Also, it is not just important to eat low-calorie foods but to also eat foods high in nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. BMR can be increased by building muscle strength. It is important to have an active lifestyle by indulging in regular exercises which includes cardio and strength training.
Example: Say a person’s BMR is 1500kCal. This means, without doing any extra work, he will be spending 1500 kCals per day. A person with average height and weight must consume 1200kCals per day (For example). So, by consuming just 1200kcals a day, the person expends about 300kCals of fat. If he/she does cardio that burns about 300 kcals, it implies spending about 600kcals on that day.
Obesity is known to have psychological effects on the brain. Sugar and gluten are known to have the same effect that cocaine has on the brain. They are highly addictive. Most junk foods are saturated with these products.Hence, most obese people do not follow a strict dietary regimen because of their addiction.
Bariatric surgery is a process by which the volume of the stomach of a person suffering from obesity is reduced. This ensures that they consume modest quantities of food and feel full. It is a safe procedure by which the capacity of the stomach to store food is reduced.
Types of bariatric surgery:
Lap Band Surgery:
This surgery involves putting a silicone band on the stomach to divide the stomach into a smaller and a larger pouch ( Refer picture). This makes one feel full with the intake of small amount of food. Hence, calorie intake is restricted. This surgery can help you lose more than 50% of your weight and is completely reversible as the band can be removed easily.
Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy :
Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy is a surgery where a huge part of the stomach is surgically removed. Only a necessary part of it is left to perform the essential functions. It is a restrictive and an irreversible surgery.This surgery is very effective in aiding weight loss by allowing the intake of just the amount of food that is required for the functioning of the body. Once the ideal weight is reached, maintaining the same is also easy as the surgery is irreversible.
Roux en-Y surgery:
Roux-En-Y surgery or Gastric Bypass Surgery is another type of surgery where a gastric bypass is created from a small portion of the stomach to the small intestine directly. The larger portion of the stomach never receives food but only functions to secrete digestive gases and enzymes to break down the food. Digestion of the food takes place in the small intestine after passing the Y shaped bypass.This surgery not only helps in limiting the intake but also restricts the entire calorie absorption from the food leading to an effective weight loss.
Why choose Bariatric surgery for weight loss?
Most obese people think that just by changing their lifestyle, they will be able to lose weight. While this is achievable through extreme willpower, motivation, and hard work, it can result in a lot of mental stress and pressure due to changes in the diet which the body has been accustomed to for a long time. Bariatric surgery takes care of that biologically. It results in a stress-free and completely natural weight loss.
Another issue that is unaddressed is the maintenance of the lost weight. Often, people tend to regain weight once they stop their workout/diet routine. Opting for bariatric surgery for weight loss can help maintain the weight after the surgery.
Bariatric surgery is a safe and effective procedure for weight loss. Manipal Hospital has renowned experts performing bariatric surgeries and helping people with obesity regain their health. Bariatric surgery also helps patients who have health issues due to obesity. It helps in reducing the risks of coronary disease, maintaining blood pressure and keep diabetes under control.
FAQs about Bariatric surgery:
Does Bariatric Surgery help in weight loss?
A: Being Overweight is not a lifestyle problem anymore. It is a disease and needs to be treated as such. Bariatric Surgery resets the set point of healthy weight and allows an individual to lose weight.
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