When weight weighs heavy on your mind

 Given our sedentary lifestyle these days, obesity has become a rampant disorder in the country, writes Dr Anshuman Kaushal.

Obesity can be a curse. Are you counting your pounds? As obesity becomes rampant in urban India with more than 3% of the population falling in the category, according to WHO, it is high time that we talk about it - more than ever… With more than 3 crore people entering the club of obese in India, it becomes the need of the hour to create awareness about its implications.

We are living in the most sedentary generations of all times. And, yes with that comes numerous side-effects, the most hazardous being obesity. An obese person would usually have high counts of cholesterol, triggering other health ailments. Interestingly, obesity is mostly looked upon as having a relatively awkward body-shape.

Many obese people become the butt of jokes and are often mocked at. But obesity predisposes you to a wide spectrum of health disorders too, often deadly. An obese person has all the more chances to meet ailments like heart-attack, type-2 diabetes, hypertension, high blood cholesterol, and some kinds of cancer as well! While less or no physical activity is the most common factor that causes obesity, in some cases, factors are either hereditary or bad dietary habits alone.

Obesity is a condition in which a person has high fat deposition in the body with a BMI beyond 30, leading to other health hazards. A person is considered morbidly obese if his/her weight is 45 kgs above the normal for his/her age and height, and a Body Mass Index of 40 or more. Morbid obesity puts patients at greater risk of illnesses including sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), gallstones, osteoarthritis and many more.

While being overweight is directly connected to cardiovascular ailments; abdominal obesity or potbelly could play a key role in causing serious heart ailments. Then, there is a risk of obstructive sleep apnea, wherein a person is unable to sleep properly and snores while remaining drowsy throughout the day. An obese person is also more likely to get diagnosed with a problem of gout, in which due to increase in uric acid levels a person suffers from extreme, inflammatory pain in joints.

Obesity also plays an important role in cancer and that the lifetime risk of cancers is more among obese individuals. Reports worldwide have suggested that an increased body index increases failure of the heart and also could put a constant stress on various joints of the body.

The list is endless and quite depressing. But with an informed mind, preventive measures and continuous health regimes one can definitely safeguard oneself from becoming obese and an obese person too can deal with obesity and still manage to be as fit as anybody else, if s/he follows what is required of them.

And, then we have bariatric surgery to help people suffering from morbid obesity. However, it is usually administered on a morbidly obese person who struggles to breathe and walk properly. Even the 5-10% of initial weight loss from this surgery has considerable benefits on reducing cardiovascular risk. Weight loss after surgery is more likely to be maintained in the long term than with lifestyle measures alone.

There is a long waiting list of patients who would want to undergo this savior surgery. This surgery alters the digestive process so as to achieve rapid weight loss. The operations can be divided into three types: restrictive, mal-absorptive, and combined restrictive/mal-absorptive. Restrictive weight loss surgeries limit food intake by creating a narrow passage from the upper part of the stomach into the larger lower part.

Mal-absorptive weight loss surgeries do not limit food intake, but exclude most of the small intestine from the digestive tract so fewer calories and nutrients are absorbed. Combined operations use stomach restriction and a partial bypass of the small intestine.

If you have a BMI more than 100 (men) or 80 (women), or a BMI between 35 to 39.9 along with serious obesity-related health issue like type 2 diabetes, heart ailments or sleep apnea teamed with an informed mindset that knows beforehand about what all lifestyle changes need to be made post the surgery – you may become a candidate to this weight-loss surgery.

India is on the verge of becoming a hotbed of obesity. Therefore, it is indeed the need of the hour to create awareness about this life-threatening disorder and aim for a healthier lifestyle.

(The writer is a bariatric surgeon)

Comments (+)