A medical condition caused due to the accumulation of excess body fat, obesity increases the risk of several other diseases and health problems such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, osteoarthritis and depression. A person is considered obese when his body mass index (BMI) is over 30 kg/m2. A healthy, well-balanced diet and an active lifestyle can easily prevent this disorder by eliminating excess fat from the body and bringing the BMI down to normal.
What causes obesity?
Obesity occurs when an individual’s calorie intake is more than the amount burned through exercise or during the course of daily activity. Factors such as genetics, hormones and metabolism also play a role in determining body weight. In some rare instances, obesity has been attributed to medical causes such as Prader-Willi syndrome, Cushing’s syndrome and other unusual conditions. But the most common causes of obesity include:
- Physical inactivity: As more and more people adopt a sedentary lifestyle and shift towards less physically demanding work, they do not get the necessary amount of exercise that is needed to maintain the body’s energy balance. When energy IN exceeds energy OUT, the body starts storing fat in the form of triglyceride; increasing the BMI and waist circumference.
- Unhealthy diet: According to a study conducted in 2016, excess or consumption of unhealthy food is the primary cause of obesity. Our generation’s increasing dependence on big portions of energy-dense meals and fast food has contributed significantly to the rising rates of obesity, worldwide. Opting for cheap processed food such as potato chips and soft drinks in place of fresh fruits and vegetables not only has a negative impact on health but also makes the body vulnerable to type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Common signs and symptoms of obesity
While there aren’t any specific symptoms of obesity, look for an increase in the waist circumference, unhealthy body fat distribution and high BMI. A complete medical diagnosis will include certain tests and procedures in order to rule out any other health conditions that may be responsible for weight gain.
Treatment of obesity
Depending on the cause and severity of the condition, treatment can range from minor lifestyle changes to bariatric surgery.
- Adopting a healthy lifestyle: A dietician may be able to guide you to follow a low-calorie diet that is good for your heart health, provides complete nourishment to the body and helps in maintaining an ideal weight. Regular physical activity, a consistent sleep cycle and a positive mindset can improve your overall health, well-being and quality of life.
- Medicines for weight loss: when lifestyle changes are ineffective, the doctor may prescribe FDA-approved medicines that work on the brain or gastrointestinal tract to decrease appetite.
- Surgical procedures: There are several types of weight-loss surgeries that are collectively known as bariatric surgery. This surgery makes changes to the patient’s digestive system by limiting the amount of food that can be consumed or reducing the absorption of nutrients or both. It is performed to reduce the risk of potentially life-threatening weight-related health problems in patients whose BMI is over 40.
As bariatric surgery involves certain risks, it should be undertaken after proper consideration and choosing the right specialist can make all the difference. Obesity can be prevented by being aware of one’s body and taking care of it religiously by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.