Obesity one of the deadliest diseases taking epidemic proportions in our country. Affecting up to five per cent of the country’s population it is going to become a serious social problem in the days to come. Obesity and associated medical conditions have been taking their toll on Indians like elsewhere in the world. India is following the trend of other developing countries that are steadily becoming more obese. The access to unhealthy cheap processed food and the adoption of sedentary lifestyle amongst the urban middle-class has lead to the growth of this disease at an exponential rate.
According to statistics, the prevalence of overweight adults among urban population is more than 30%. This is ironically the situation in India even as the poorest of poor battle hunger and starvation.
Obesity is commonly calculated using BMI. An adult with a BMI of 28 or greater is clinically obese. It has been established that the percentage body fat content of Indians is very high as compared to a Western Individual. A simplest way to calculate ideal body weight is to minus 100 from ones height in centimeters (For example if a person’s height is 150 cms, then his/her ideal body weight should be below 50kgs. i.e., 150cms – 100).
Obesity is related to excess intake of calories by an individual than over an extended period of time. These “extra” calories are stored in the body as fat. Although there are several factors that may lead to this energy imbalance in obese individuals, the main contributors are behavior, environment and genetics.
Genes: Genetics plays a major role in ones predisposition for obesity. Upto 80% of severely obese individuals have a genetic tendancy.
Behavioral Factors: Parents and immediate family have a major impact in a child’s behavior molding which in turns determines healthy eating and exercising habits.
Environmental factors: In today’s fast-paced urban environment, it is easy to adopt unhealthy lifestyle habits. Access to play areas and parks in the neighborhood has major impact in promoting healthier lifestyle.
There are more than 30 medical conditions that are associated with obesity. Individuals who are obese are at risk of developing one or more of these serious medical conditions, causing poor health or, in severe cases, early death. The most prevalent obesity-related diseases include Diabetes, High blood pressure, High cholesterol, Heart disease, Stroke, Gallbladder disease, Reflux Disease (GERD), Osteoarthritis, Sleep apnea, respiratory problems and some forms of cancers.
Individuals affected by obesity often face obstacles far beyond health risks. Emotional suffering may be one of the most painful parts of obesity. Society often emphasizes the importance of physical appearance. As a result, people who are obese often face prejudice or discrimination at school, in social situations and work place, which have serious consequences for their personal and psychological well being. The consequences of this discrimination can seriously impact an individual’s quality of life and only further intensify the negative stigma associated with obesity.
Obesity treatment strategies vary from person to person. Beginning treatment early is an essential part of success. There are several methods for treating obesity, such as behavior modification, physical activity, medically managed weight-loss and surgical treatment.
While plenty of diets and slimming products claim to offer quick fixes, obesity is not something that can be cured or brought under clinical control within a few weeks or months. Treatment such as diet and exercise may need to continue for years. Weight-loss plans from a dietician are an effective way to lose weight, but a greater challenge is to achieve a way of life that maintains weight and reduces the chances of putting it back on. This can only be achieved sensible eating and regular exercise habits. With Obesity (Bariatric) surgery options that are available today one can hope that severely obese people will permanently benefit and have a better quality of life by getting rid of obesity and associated disorders.
Dr Ravindran Kumeran FRCS
Laparoscopic Obesity Surgeon
Author can be contacted at the blog through obesityfoundationindia
(Next blog on unhealthy eating practises)