Obesity is a medical condition that describes excessive body fat in a person that has made a negative impact on the person’s health Being overweight is a serious health problem these days. In low- and middle-income countries obesity seem to be the prevalent health problem after the spread of infectious disease and undernutrition. According to the WHO, analysis obesity kills more people than underweight. In 2016 39% of adults in the age group, 18 years and above were overweight out of which 13% were obese. The worldwide prevalence of obesity has almost tripled from 1975 to 2016. In this article, I will give you a brief overview of the causes and Treatment for overweight.
Excess or abnormal fat accumulation leading to health risks is termed obesity. Being overweight is a leading cause of many health impairments like cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, cancer, infertility in females, etc. Recent scientific studies showed that mortality risk increases by 60% in obese COVID-19 patients.
Apart from obesity in adult childhood obesity, is a rising global issue. According to data analysis conducted by WHO prevalence of obesity in children and adolescents (5-19 years) has increased markedly from 4%-18% between the years 1975-2016.
Causes of Overweight
Energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended causes obesity. The following factors enhance the risk of being overweight.
- Unhealthy dietary habits are common causes of obesity. Increase intake of food items rich in sugar and fat content, a diet full of junk food, overeating, and excess consumption of high-calorie beverages like alcohol, sugary soft drink, etc. contributes to obesity. Families nowadays depend on highly-processed fast food, it is an easy way to consume sugar & fat.
- Low physical activity due to a sedentary lifestyle, mode of transportation used by the people, and urbanization are other leading causes of being overweight.
- The genetic makeup of our body affects the regulation of different metabolic processes taking place in our bodies. It plays a very important role in how our body utilizes the food we eat; how many calories are burnt during exercise and physical activity.
- Certain medical conditions such as the consumption of antidepressants, anti-seizures, anti-psychotic medications, oral contraceptives, corticosteroids, etc. may also lead to obesity.
- Stress may be another factor contributing to obesity as hormonal changes occurring due to stressful condition increases craving for high-calorie food. Hormonal changes taking place in the body also affect food consumption and other metabolic processes.
Risk Factors of Obesity
- Obesity increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, etc. According to a Norwegian study, overweight females show a high risk of elevated blood pressure as compared to males.
- Obesity increases the risk of endometrial, breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer.
- Other than serious health problems it can cause problems in your daily activities such as breathlessness, increased sweating, feeling very tired, back pain, joint pain, low confidence, and not being in the mood to do any physical activity.
- It is a common cause of infertility and PCOD in females.
- Increasing body weight gradually increases the pressure on weight-bearing joints like knees and ankles, enhancing the risk of musculoskeletal disorders like osteoarthritis.
- Obesity also affects the quality of life as some people face problems like depression, and social isolation due to the inability to participate in everyday activities.
- It can also affect your mental health which may cause depression and low self-esteem.
Expert Ami Shah’s Words On Obesity
Obesity – The prevalence of obesity and overweight is increasing remarkably in Western as well as Asian countries which calls for a serious discussion about the causes, awareness, risk factors, treatment, and preventive measures. The mortality rate from obesity is way higher than being underweight or malnutrition which is a big concern growing nowadays. Obesity leads to severe health conditions and co-morbidities. In recent times childhood obesity is more alarming and is more prevalent in adolescents. An unhealthy diet, overeating, stress, anxiety, irregular sleeping patterns, sedentary lifestyle are some of the causes of obesity. People should be aware of the risk factors like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, PCOD, infertility, cancer, hypertension, joint pains, arthritis, fatty liver, and high cholesterol. These co-morbidities in turn reduce the quality of life leading to depression and severe mental health issues. BMI is the easiest calculative measurement which gives classification for underweight, healthy weight, overweight, and obesity. People can assess themselves and classify accordingly. Diet and physical activity are the two factors that play a major role in one’s body weight. In the journey of losing weight diet contributes 70-80% while physical activity contributes 20-30%. There is no need for strict fasting and FAD diets. A healthy nutritious diet with controlled portion size will easily help in achieving the target. Inculcating some good dietary habits, and regular eating patterns will benefit a lot. Start taking small efforts like normal walking to a little bit of home workouts which will increase your metabolism and in turn will help in reducing weight. People themselves should start taking small preventive steps and improve their quality of life.
Find out if you are Obese or Not…?
Before you consult your dietician and start your treatment for overweight it is important to know if you are obese. The parameter used to find out if a person is obese or not is body mass index (BMI). BMI is an important parameter used by the majority of health professionals for the diagnosis of obesity. WHO defines Body Mass Index as the weight ratio in kilograms to height in meter square. Or weight in pounds divided by height in inches squared and multiplied by 703. BMI is the estimated value for body fat. However, there are some exceptions for bodybuilders, athletes, and pregnant women’s BMI value is not correct. For example, muscular athletes’ BMI value may fall in the obese category even though they don’t have excess body fat. Elevated BMI value is because of high muscular mass.
Here are the standard BMI classifications:
|18.5 to 24.9
|25 to 29.9
|30 to 34.9
|Obesity Class 1
|35 to 39.9
|Obesity Class 2
|40.0 and higher
|Class 3 Morbid Obesity
Prevention & Treatment for Overweight
A well-planned diet is the best and most important treatment for overweight. Limit or completely stop the intake of food items that are high in sugar and fat content. Switch to low-energy-dense food like vegetables, fruits, lean meat, fish, grains, etc. These food items have low calorific value due to which high intake of low energy dense foodstuff does not contribute to weight gain. Avoid food items high in fat content as fats contain more than twice the amount of calories per unit weight than protein or carbohydrates. Avoid foodstuffs like red meat, egg yolk, fried food, sweets, butter, soft drinks, etc. Due to the high calorific value of these food items consumption of even small portions of these food items increases the weight to a large extent. Follow a strict diet plan and monitor your weight every week to determine whether your efforts are working.
Regular physical exercise
After what you eat the only thing a person is left with is exercise. Regular exercise can be the 2nd best option on my list when I say treatment for overweight. It is the most accessible, available, and affordable choice a person can make. Studies have shown people who engage themselves in regular strenuous activity have a lower risk of obesity than sedentary workers. Engage yourself in strenuous physical activities like swimming, stationary bicycling, walking, regular exercise, jogging, etc. for at least 20 to 30, minutes a day for significant weight loss. Start slowly and then gradually increase the time to avoid fatigue, excessive soreness, and injury.
At a societal level
The food industry can play a very important role in this by reducing the fat, sugar, and salt content in processed food items. Population-based policies make regular physical activities and healthy dietary choices affordable and accessible to everyone, especially poor people.
In the year 2004 World Health Assembly made a political declaration on non-communicable diseases. “WHO Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health” states that action needed to be taken to support a healthy diet and regular physical activity and reduce the number of premature mortalities by up to 25% by 2030.
Obesity or being overweight is a serious medical condition that may have negative effects on health. It may come from genetics, lifestyle, unhealthy eating habits, or some medical conditions. Obesity increases lots of health risks including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, High blood pressure, back pain, and depression. In that case, we advise you to consult a healthcare professional who will give you guidance on managing your health. You can treat your overweight problem by adopting habits of eating clean, adding physical activity to your daily routine, avoiding processed food, and cutting high sugar intake from your diet.
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