December 16, 2016 413
What is Obesity?
Obesity is a condition where there is excess fat accumulation in the body of the person that it has a negative effect on the health of that person. It is measured using different methods and the most common method is the (Body Mass Index) BMI calculation.
What is Body Mass Index (BMI)?
The body mass index (BMI) is a measurement that is obtained from weight and waist size. Although it is said to be useful to estimate healthy body weight, it does not measure the percentage of body fat. BMI can act as an indicator of whether you may be obese or not. BMI value can at times be misleading – for example, a muscleman could have a higher BMI but the percentage of fat might be much less when compared to an unfit person whose BMI may be shown to be in the “normal” category.
Why does obesity occur?
People can become obese for many different reasons. Here are a few common reasons.
1) Consuming too many calories.
We all know this – there is just too much calories in the food these days. We end up consuming a large amount of calories but do not burn the excess out. This piles up and the result you see is Obesity. Despite a huge budget being spent on public awareness campaigns that attempt to encourage people to eat healthily, the majority of us continue to overeat.
2) Leading a sedentary lifestyle
With TV, video games, smartphones, tablets and all other electronic gadgets taking over our lives, people have become more prone to leading a more sedentary lifestyle compared to their parents and grandparents. Let’s see this example: A few decades ago, shopping meant walking down the road to the street where you could find the bakers, grocers, banks, etc. With more and more supermarkets and malls beginning to appear, people shifted from walking their way to these shops to driving cars In order to get their provisions. In some countries, especially the developed and developing ones, dependence on the car has become so much that people even tend to drive even if their destination is only 5 minutes away from home.
Fact: The lesser you move around the fewer calories you end up burning. However, this is not only about burning calories. Physical activity affects how your hormones work, and we all know hormones have an effect on how the body processes food. Studies show that physical activity has a valuable effect on insulin levels – they help to keep the levels stable. Unstable insulin levels are said to be closely associated with weight gain.
3) Lack of sleep
Research has suggested that if you lack of sleep doubles your risk of becoming obese. There are many possible ways that sleep deprivation can lead to increasing your chances of becoming obese. You might feel too tired to exercise due to lack of sleep, thus leading to a slump in the amount of calories burnt and this in turn leading to weight gain.
At times people who don’t sleep enough may consume more calories than those who sleep adequately, just for the simple fact that they are awake longer and have more opportunity to eat; lack of sleep also upsets the balance of important hormones that control appetite, so sleep-deprived people may be seen to be hungrier than those who get enough rest each night.
4) Medications that make patients put on weight
An article in Annals of Pharmacotherapy suggests that certain medications may cause weight gain. These happen to be commonly prescribed medications. However, there is a wide inter-individual variation in terms of response and there is a variation in the degree of weight gain within drug types. (The Annals of Pharmacotherapy: Vol. 39, No. 12, pp. 2046-2054. DOI 10.1345/aph.1G33)
5) Obesity gene
Yes, this sounds possible! There is a faulty gene called FTO that makes 1 in every 6 people overeat, this was reported in the Journal of Clinical Investigation (July 2013 issue). If we score out all the above possibilities, this faulty gene has to take the blame after all, it is the gene that is making us overeat :P
How to fight obesity?
Option 1: Dietary changes to combat obesity
It is general advice by doctors and dietitians that obese people must to reduce their total daily calorie intake. It is a good thing to include more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. It is important to keep variety in your diet is varied - you cannot avoid eating, and also continue to enjoy the tastes of different foods. Reducing consumption of refined carbohydrates, sugar and some fats is vital.
Ideally, you must talk to your doctor/dietician to discuss dietary changes.
Crash-dieting to lose weight can have the below risks:
- You may develop health problems
- You will probably experience vitamin deficiencies
- You chances of failure are significantly higher
People who are very obese may be prescribed a low calorie liquid diet. All this must be discussed and done with a health care professional.
Option 2: Physical activity
The higher the amount physical activity, the greater is the number of calories burnt. To lose a kilogram of fat 8000 calories have to be burnt (1 pound of fat = 3,500 calories). Brisk walking is a good way to begin your physical activity if you are obese. Indulging in a good amount of physical activity combined with a good diet will considerably increase your chances of shedding that excess weight successfully and permanently!
You can do activities that can work with your daily routine. Making physical activity a part of your daily life, will more likely become a lasting habit. For example, if you normally use an elevator, you could try climbing a couple of floors via stairs. Similarly, you could try this when driving your car or if you use any form of public transport - get off earlier and walk that bit. If you shop at a place that is walking distance from home, try walking down to the shop instead of driving down. If you are very obese, unfit, or have some health problems, do ensure you check with a health care professional before you start indulging in physical activity.
Option 3: Weight loss surgery (Bariatric surgery)
Weight loss surgery (WLS), also known as Bariatric Surgery, involves removing a part of a patient's stomach or small intestine. This was done in cancer/ulcer patients mainly. It was found that cancer/ulcer patients who underwent this surgery subsequently lost weight post surgery. After this, doctors decided that the procedure may be beneficial for morbidly obese patients. The American Society for Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery recommends that Bariatric surgery can help to improve or resolve atleast 30 obesity-related conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnoea, hypertension, high cholesterol etc. Bariatric surgery basically alters the size of your stomach or small intestine so that you do not consume too much food per meal. This brings down the total number of calories consumed each day, thereby aiding weight loss.
We will bring you more information on Bariatric Surgery in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!
by Hridya Anand
A biochemist by education who could never put what she studied to good use, finally found GetDoc as a medium to do what she loved - bring information to people using a forum that is dedicated to all things medical. View all articles by Hridya Anand.