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Check Your Obesity


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Check Your Obesity
  For long, the fat man has remained the butt of jokes and ridicule.  It is time, the perception of obesity changes to that of a genuine health problem which is potentially reversible and, if left untreated,may pose serious health hazards.  The nutrition foundation of India (NFI) study in Delhi showed that 32.3% middle class females are over weight.  This prevalence may changes slightly from state to state in India.  However,the indication is that the incidence and prevalence of obesity is on the rise in our country.  This article aims at giving a general overview about obesity, its definition, parameters, causes, consequences and treatment.

1 What  Is  Obesity?
2 How Fat is Too Fat?
3 Is All  Fat Unhealthy?
4 What causes a person to be overweight?
5 Syndrome – X
6 Childhood obesity
7 What are the health hazards of being fat?
8 How much Weight should you lose?
9 Sustained weight loss dream or a reality?
10 Management of Obesity
11 Eat Better
12 Some Tips
13 Exercise
14 How Medicines Can help?
15 How about Surgery?
16 Obesity Fats

What Is Obesity?

  The World Health  Organization defines obesity as an excess of body fat leading to negative consequences could be physical or even psychological.

How Fat is Too Fat?


The best indicator of fatness is Body Mass Index or BMI.  It is defined as weight in kilograms divided by height in meter squared.  For Example – If your weight is 60 kg and you are 1.7 mt tall your body mass index is calculated as

        Body mass index is an indicator of the health risks resulting from obesity.  A BMI  between 18.5 and 24.9 kg/m2  is seen in healthy individuals. Above this point the health risks are directly proportional to the BMI and hence it is advisable to lose weight to reduce the health risks in obese individuals (health risks discussed later.


Is All Fat Unhealthy?


Though in general, all excess body fat is unhealthy, fat which tends to get deposited around the waist (a spare tire around the middle or apple shaped obesity) commonly seen in men poses a greater health hazard especially cardiac  risk.  In comparision, the fat distributed over the hips and buttocks (more commonly seen in women) has less effect on the heart,  If you are a woman and your waist to hip ratio is more than 0.8 or if you are a man and your waist to hip ratio is more than 1.0 it indicates more of  a health risk.


What causes a person to be overweight?


A hyperactive fork and a hypoactive foot are the most common causes of obesity.  Eating too much and not being active enough gives more calories than what the body burns up, the extra calories being stored as fat.  Overeating because of boredom or depression is seen commonly.

        Certain hormonal unbalances may also lead to obesity.  These include low levels of thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism), increased levels of body steroids (Cushing’s syndrome) and syndrome-X 


Syndrome – X


This mysterious sounding condition often found in first degree relatives of diabetic patients is characterized by male pattern obesity (increased waist/hip ratio), increased blood levels of the hormone insulin with or without high blood sugars, high blood pressure and cholesterol abnormalities.  Patients with syndrome-X are more prone to developing heart attacks.  Young women with a variant of this syndrome often have cysts in their ovaries and fertility problems.  Those patients of syndrome-X who have high insulin levels with normal blood sugars if identified and treated early can be prevented from developing diabetes and cardiac problems.


Childhood obesity


This has assumed menacing proportions today and if left unattended would lead to an entire generation of unhealthy, obese, moribund individuals, the consequences of which are unthinkable.

        Decreased physical sports, automated means of transport, cable television and computers, coupled with a diet high in refined carbohydrates and lacking  in dietary fibre and vitamins are causing today’s children to develop high blood pressure and even type 2 Diabetes Mellitus( commonly seen in adults) .  Even now 25% of children and adolescents in the cities are overweight and more and more of them are approaching obesity and developing associated complications.

        Drugs which may be used in adults are not recommended for children and hence prevention is of utmost importance.


What are the health hazards of being fat?

  Overweight or obese individuals are more likely to develop health problems such as,
1 high blood pressure
2 heart disease
3 stroke (blood flow to brain is obstructed)
4 Diabetes mellitus
5 Certain type of cancers
6 Arthritis including Gout
7 Gall stones

Being overweight or obese can also cause respiratory problems, back pain, increased cholesterol levels and osteoarthritis.  Overall, being overweight/obese can decrease your lifespan.


How much Weight should you lose?


Ideally, weight loss should be steady and sustained.  The aim should be to lose approximately  5-10% of  current weight over a period of 6-12 months.  Rapid weight loss causes a yo-yo effect : no sooner have have you  lost weight, it comes back again and often more than before, Even by losing 5-10% weight the health risks are significantly reduced.  Losing weight helps you feel better, makes you more active and reduces the health risks thus improving  the quality of life and also longevity.


Sustained weight loss dream or a reality?

  Sustained weight loss is no pipe dream, It can be achieved albelt with some difficulty provided the desire and motivation is there.  Medical consultation is recommended especially if the BMI is more than 28 a family history of diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid disorders other health related complaints are present or if sustained weight loss program fails to yield any result.

Management of Obesity :

  After ruling out medical conditions responsible  for obesity, the first and foremost important factor to achieve goods results is a motivated individual.  No weight loss plan would work in an individual who is not willing to adopt a healthy life stye.  Life style modification start with healthy eating habits and regular exercise.

Eat Better :

  Eating less is by itself not enough.Increasing the intake of fiber, proteins and vitamins is as important as decreasing the intake of fat,sugar and carbohydrates in diet.

Some Tips :

1 Eat at least 2 full meals a day.  Do not skip meals especially breakfast.
2 Eat a lot of non-starchy vegetables (like salad greens, spinach, green beans, louki) and avoid starchy begetables like potato, arbi, yam.  Fruits like apple, papaya, watermelon, pear, orange etc can be had freely.  Sweet fruits like bananas, grapes, chickoo, mango should be had occasionally and only in small quantities.
3 Do not snack between meals
4 Do not watch TV or read books while eating.
5 Involve family and friends inyour efforts to adopt a healthy lifestyle
6 Do not eat leftovers for the sake of finishing them.
7 Try to eat out less often.
8 Never shop when you are hungry.

Exercise :

  Making exercise a part of your daily life is an important way to help control your weight.  To be effective you should do at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days of ;the week.  Exercise need not be done at one go.  Brisk walking is the simplest and cheapest available option. Cycling, climbing stairs, rope skipping, jogging, swimming and aerobic sports are also useful in burning calories.

How Medicines Can help?

  If the obesity is secondary to an under lying medical illness, drugs would be certainly beneficial.  Today there are medicines which can make you ear less and help control your food intake and increase the body’s metabolic rate.  Rebound weight gain is not uncommon  after stopping the medicines abruptly.

How about Surgery?


Some surgical techniques which remove excess fat and/or alter the stomach size are done at some centers in the world for people who are morbidly obese (BMI>40kg/m2).  However, these are the last resort for morbidly obese individuals with significant health risks,    Strict criteria are used for selection of patients for surgery.

        Given the motivation and proper guidance, lifestyle modification can achieve a significant weight loss.  Medications can help achieve weight loss along with diet and exercise as is perceived by some individuals.  It is very important to take these medications under medical  supervision as certain side effects need to be monitored closely.  Prevention of obesity is better than cure.


Obesity Fats:

1 Obesity  is one of the leading causes of preventable death and may surpass smoking in a few years.
2 Obesity is increasing at an epidemic rate of 1.3% a year for women over the age of 20 years.
3 Obesity is long  recognized  as a risk factor for-high blood  pressure, Diabetes and Hert Disease.
4 Medical research has shown that obesity can lead to as many as 30 health problems.
5 If you weigh 8-10kg more than your ideal body weight you are required to reduce weight.
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