Obesity & Overweight

1. What is obesity?

Obesity is  a condition where there is excess fat in your body. Obesity is associated with many other problems like high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, etc.

2. How do I know if I am obese or just overweight?

There is a classification sysytem developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO ). It states that, to have a healthy weight for your body size your BMI should fall between 18.5 and 24.9 on the BMI scale. If your BMI is between 25 and 29.9 you are overweight.  A BMI between 30 and 39.9 classifies you as obese, which also qualifies you for treatment. People who have a BMI of 40 fall into the ‘morbidly obese’ weight bracket and should strongly consider treatment.

3. What is my body mass index (BMI)?

BMI is a way medical professionals check if you are at a healthy weight for your height.

BMI = Weight in kilograms divided by (height in meter)2

for example if your weight is 65kg and height is 165 cm = 1.65 m, your BMI will be 65/1.65x 1.65 = 23.8, which comes in the ideal range.

4. Is obesity hereditary?

Obesity often runs in families, which suggests there is a genetic link. Parents also pass on common dietary habits to their children and may share a similar attitude towards physical exercise and lifestyle habits. However, there is no certainty that these factors must result in obesity; they may contribute, but do not make obesity a certainty.

5. What other factors contribute to the development of obesity?

A main cause of obesity is a poor diet coupled with a lack of exercise. As most of us do not have physical occupations, it becomes harder to get enough exercise during our daily routine. Consuming large portions of fatty foods, sweet foods and sugary drinks (high in calories and low in nutrients) consumed on a frequent basis leads rapid weight gain. Other possible causes can be due to stress or insomnia; the use of antidepressants and steroids; and hormone problems, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome or Cushing’s syndrome.

6. Does being obese put my health at risk?

Serious health complications can arise if obesity is left untreated. Short-term problems such as breathlessness, difficulty sleeping and aches and pains are most noticeable with intense weight gain. Further long-term problems may include type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and coronary heart disease. Women who are obese are more likely to have problems during and after pregnancy.

7. How can I prevent obesity from developing?

Arrange an appointment with your doctor as he or she can suggest an appropriate health plan to stick to. This plan may involve following a healthy eating plan, decreasing the size of your meals, more regular exercise, regular monitoring of your weight, and potentially the use of a medical treatment.

8. What methods of treatment are available?

Obesity can be treated by proper diet and exercise. If there is a specific medical condition that is giving rise to obesity that needs to be corrected. Oral medicines are also available for treatment of obesity.  Those with morbid obesity can benefit from bariatric surgery.

9. Is surgery a worthwhile risk?

Weight loss surgery is carried out to restrict the amount of food a person can eat. Common methods include gastric band surgery, gastric bypass, bilopancreatic diversion and sleeve gastrectomy. Procedures can take from 30 minutes to several hours to successfully complete. A private operation performed by a professional surgeon can cost as much as Rs. 1,50,000 or more.

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