Obesity: What You Should Know | Health

Obesity is a chronic disease that affects millions of people worldwide and has become a major health problem. “It has spread to almost every corner of the planet.”[obesity] has grown to epidemic proportions,” says the World Health Organization (WHO). (Also Read: Daughters May Inherit Obesity From Mother: Study)

Diet is only one factor that influences a person's body weight (Maren Sheath/Junar/Image Alliance)
Diet is only one factor that influences a person’s body weight (Maren Sheath/Junar/Image Alliance)

More than 5 million people die each year due to obesity-related diseases and harmful effects.

According to the World Obesity Atlas 2023, by 2035, more than half of the world’s population, i.e. more than 4 billion people, may be obese or overweight.

What is obesity?

Obesity is a complex disease that can occur at any age and affects adults and children alike.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines obesity as “abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that poses a risk to health”.

As of 2016, 1.9 billion or 39% of adults worldwide, were overweight and 650 million or 13% were living with obesity. According to WHO’s Global Health Observatory, the proportion of adults with obesity has nearly tripled since 1980. Children are not exempt — about 38 million children under the age of 5 are overweight or obese, and more than 340 million children between the ages of 5 and 19.

In a nutshell, obesity occurs when a person eats too many calories that the body converts into fat. This imbalance between the calories you take in and the calories you burn—for example through exercise—can be caused by a number of factors, including social, lifestyle, psychological, biological, and genetic factors.

Obesity: Not an issue of self-control

Yet contrary to widespread belief, obesity is not the result of a lack of willpower.

“We know that hunger and satiety are hereditary and that up to 70% of your weight is genetically determined. There is every reason to treat obesity as a chronic, relapsing disease,” John Wass, professor of endocrinology at the University of Oxford, told The Lancet. .

The factors responsible for obesity can be divided into two: internal factors, such as a person’s biological and genetic makeup, and external factors, such as environmental and social conditions, such as your income, access to health care or access to safe outdoors. Areas where you can exercise.

Genetics, lack of exercise, poor eating habits, psychological problems, health problems, social and economic conditions, drugs, pollutants, and more can all contribute to the development of obesity.

Medical conditions such as Cushing’s disease and certain medications, including steroids and some antidepressants, can also cause weight gain or obesity.

What does obesity do to your body?

Symptoms associated with excess fat and body weight include difficulty performing physical activities, pain in various parts of the body, and even osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease. Obesity can make it difficult to breathe at night, a condition called sleep apnea.

Obesity can lead to type 2 diabetes, raise blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and lead to heart disease such as heart attack and stroke due to increased buildup of fatty substances in the arteries.

Obesity is also associated with certain types of cancer such as endometrial, esophageal, liver, kidney and colon, among others, and it can seriously affect a person’s mental health, causing anxiety and low self-esteem, as well as increasing the risk. Depression.

How do you measure obesity?

Obesity is often determined by measuring a person’s body mass index (BMI) and is diagnosed when a person’s BMI is above 30. According to the WHO, a value above 25 indicates overweight.

BMI is calculated by dividing body weight in kilograms by the square of height in meters. You can calculate your BMI with the UK’s National Health Service BMI calculator.

But BMI is a controversial measure. It does not take into account age, gender and what percentage of body weight is made up of muscle versus fat.

For example, a weightlifter with a lot of muscle mass may have a high BMI above 30 and not much fat.

There are other devices that can accurately measure fat content, but they are not widely available.

“The best way to measure [body fat] Using magnetic resonance imaging [MRI]”Alexander Miras, professor of endocrinology at Ulster University in the UK, told DW.

But MRIs are expensive and are used to determine body fat content for research purposes.

Abdominal fat is associated with higher health risks than fat in the rest of the body. Because of that, medical guidelines recommend looking at waist circumference, and not just BMI, when determining someone’s health.

How is obesity treated and prevented?

On an individual level, the best way to avoid obesity is to eat a balanced diet, low in fat and sugar and high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts. Another component is being active: the WHO recommends about 20 minutes of exercise a day.

But individual efforts can work perfectly in conjunction with support at the policy and public health level.

“If anything, there is too much emphasis on blame and personal responsibility, including that of doctors,” Francesco Rubino, chair of metabolic and bariatric surgery at King’s College London, told The Lancet.

Since obesity is a chronic disease, doctors should provide a long-term treatment plan that may include lifestyle modifications such as changing eating habits, switching to a more balanced diet and changing the way people move, such as increasing physical activity. Regular follow-ups are important.

Weight loss should not be extreme at first. Studies have shown that even a 10% reduction in body weight can significantly reduce the risk of obesity-related risk factors, and this can be achieved in 6 months with well-designed treatment programs. After that, more intensive weight loss programs need to be discussed with your doctor.

What medications and surgeries are available?

If diet and exercise don’t work, there are some medications approved to treat obesity in the US that can help in addition to diet and exercise. But they come with potential side effects.

Semaglutide, sold under the brand names Ozempic, Wegovy or Rybelsus, has recently been approved for weight loss treatment in the US and by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in the UK, and may be more than 10%. Weight loss in addition to diet and exercise. The drug must be self-injected once a week, and can cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation.

Semaglutide reduces appetite by mimicking the GLP-1 hormone that is released after we eat.

For people with severe obesity, usually a BMI greater than 40, bariatric surgery such as gastric bypass, diet and exercise can be effective treatments for weight loss and health improvement if they fail. Because each case is different, it’s important to discuss the benefits, risks, and side effects of the procedure with your doctor.

Edited by: Carla Bleiker

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