Obesity: Causes, prevention and cure

Obesity is a medical condition or a disorder involving excess body fat that may have a negative effect on health. A person who has a high Body Mass Index (BMI) is said to be obese. The BMI is a key index relating body weight to height and obesity occurs when a person’s BMI is 25 or greater. Worldwide, obesity has tripled since 1975 and this kills more people than under weight. Over weight and obesity are the fifth leading risks for global deaths.

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Obesity often results from taking in more calories than are burned by exercise and normal daily activities. Much of the surplus energy will be stored as fat in the body. An increased intake of foods that are high in fatand sugars and an increase in physical inactivity due to sedentary nature of work are also some of the significant causes.

What can obesity lead to?

Obesity can lead to other illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, coronary vascular disease, heart attack,stroke and even cancer!

Can obesity be cured?

There are many weight loss strategies available but some are ineffective and short term for those who are morbidly obese! Usually non surgical programs to lose weight under the guidance of certified health care professionals include a combination of dieting, behavior modifications, medications and exercise.

A health care professional customizes your dietary needs by restricting your calorie intake, but maintains your nutrition levels.

The objective of a behavior modification therapy is to change your eating and exercise habits, to promote weight loss by setting realistic goals, recording daily diet and exercise patterns, identifying high risk situations and developing a support group for you to focus on your goal.

A variety of over the counter and prescription weight loss drugs are available. A certified health care professional can prescribe appropriate medications considering your condition. 

Exercise greatly improves your chance of   weight loss, especially for a long term weight management program, say a weight loss surgery.

What qualifies you for a weight loss surgery?

To be eligible for a bariatric surgery one must be between 16 to 70 years of age and weighing atleast 100 pounds over one’s ideal body weight and having a BMI of 40. You must have a serious weight related health problem such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or sleep apnea. When considering surgery for weight loss, one has to understand that success in maintaining weight loss depends on the commitment to be made regarding major dietary and life style changes for their remainder of their lives.

Types of weight loss surgery:

1.Roux- en –Y gastric bypass surgery: This is a procedure where a pouch is created out of a small portion of the stomach and directly attached to the small intestine, bypassing a large part of the stomach and duodenum. Now the stomach pouch is too small to hold large amounts of food and fat absorption is also considerably reduced.

2. Laparoscopic gastric banding: The surgeon places an adjustable laparoscopic silicone band around the upper part of the stomach to squeeze it so that the stomach is now a pouch to hold only an ounce of food. This is the least invasive weight loss surgery and the safest. Gastric bands are removable and can be reversed if it causes serious problems.

3. Sleeve gastrectomy: This is a surgery in which the stomach is permanently reduced to 15 -25% of its original size leaving a banana shaped portion that has both restrictive and low absorptive qualities to effect weight loss.

4. Biliopancreatic diversion: This is similar to the gastric bypass except the stomach pouch is connected further along the small intestine. This is less commonly used because of its side effects.

One usually loses more weight after a gastric bypass or a sleeve gastrectomy, but the risk of serious surgery complications is generally higher for these.

Foods to be avoided to manage obesity:

Limit the intake of sugar sweetened beverages, fruit juices, refined grains, sweets, potatoes, red meat and processed meats.

What to eat, to cope with obesity?

Choose minimally processed whole foods such as whole grains, colorful variety of vegetables, whole fruits, nuts, seeds, beans and other healthy sources of proteins such as fish and poultry, and plant oils (olive and other vegetable oils).

How to prevent obesity?

Improving your eating habits and increasing physical activity play a vital role in preventing obesity. Exercise moderately for at least 30 minutes a day.Check your weight regularly. Drink water rather than sweetened beverages when thirsty and weigh and measure food to understand portion sizes. Remember to eat only when hungry!

If you are considering weight loss surgery, discuss with a surgeon about different techniques to decide the best one suitable for you. An assessment involving tests on your physical and mental health, diet and eating patterns is conducted to check if the chosen surgery type would be suitable for you. Consult your surgeon now!