Obesity is defined as a disease in which fat has accumulated to the extent that health is impaired. WHO defines Overweight & obesity as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health. Obesity occurs when an individual’s body weight is in excess of the healthy range for their height leading to a high percentage of body fat.
Obesity isn't just a cosmetic concern. It is a medical problem that increases your risk of other diseases and health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and certain cancers.
Obesity is commonly measured by body mass index (BMI), which calculates the relationship of weight to height. An adult with a BMI of 30 or more is considered obese. Click here to know more about BMI
Facts about Obesity
Worldwide more than 1.9 billion adults are overweight and 650 million are obese. Approximately 2.8 million deaths are reported as a result of being overweight or obese. In India, more than 135 million individuals were affected by obesity. Prevalence rate of obesity and central obesity are varies from 11.8% to 31.3% and 16.9%-36.3% respectively.
- A dramatic increase in the prevalence of overweight and obesity among all the age groups has occurred in last 2-3 decades.
- About 30-50% of adult Indians are either overweight or obese.
- 1 in 5 adults overweight in India.
- Urban population is more prone to obesity as compared to their rural.
- Middle class more at risk of obesity.
- In India, abdominal obesity is one of the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
How Does Obesity Affect You?
Obesity substantially contributes to
- Preventable Non-Communicable Diseases
- Shortened life-expectancy
- Impaired quality of life
Obesity is a major risk factor for many physiological and psychological consequences such as
Physiological consequences of obesity are:
- Type 2 Diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Gallbladder disease
- Cancer (breast, uterine and colon cancer)
- Digestive disorders (gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD)
- Breathing problems (asthma)
- Problems with fertility and pregnancy
- PCOD (Poly Cystic Ovarian Disease)
- Urinary incontinence
- Joint problems (arthritis)
- Shorter life expectancy
Psychological and social consequences of obesity are:
- Negative self-image
- Social discrimination and isolation
Other consequences include:
- Difficulty in performing normal tasks, as movement becomes more difficult
- Feeling tired more quickly
- Experiencing shortness of breath
- Difficulty in using public transport seats and driving cars
- Difficulty in maintaining personal hygiene
Obesity is now challenging smoking as the major cause of potentially preventable death in India
In the past, obesity was seen as a weakness or failure of the individual. Diet and exercise were prescribed treatments and weight loss surgery viewed as dangerous and extreme.
Now, obesity is considered a disease and the cause of many serious health conditions. Obesity is no longer considered a cosmetic issue due to eating too much. The World Health Organisation (W.H.O) from 2013 recognizes obesity as a chronic progressive disease resulting from multiple environmental and genetic factors.
What are the Causes of Obesity?
Family inheritance and influences
The genes you inherit from your parents may affect the amount of body fat you store, and where that fat is distributed. Genetics may also play a role in how efficiently your body converts food into energy, how your body regulates your appetite and how your body burns calories during exercise. Obesity tends to run in families. That's not just because of the genes they share. Family members also tend to share similar eating and activity habits.
- Unhealthy diet. A diet that's high in calories, lacking in fruits and vegetables, full of fast food, and laden with high-calorie beverages and oversized portions contributes to weight gain.
- Liquid calories. People can drink many calories without feeling full, especially calories from alcohol. Other high-calorie beverages, such as sugared soft drinks, can contribute to significant weight gain.
- Inactivity. If you have a sedentary lifestyle, you can easily take in more calories every day than you burn through exercise and routine daily activities. Looking at computer, tablet and phone screens is a sedentary activity. The number of hours you spend in front of a screen is highly associated with weight gain.
Certain diseases and medications
In some people, obesity can be traced to a medical cause, such as Prader-Willi syndrome, Cushing syndrome and other conditions. Medical problems, such as arthritis, also can lead to decreased activity, which may result in weight gain.
Some medications can lead to weight gain if you don't compensate through diet or activity. These medications include some antidepressants, anti-seizure medications, diabetes medications, antipsychotic medications, steroids and beta blockers.
Social and economic issues
Social and economic factors are linked to obesity. Avoiding obesity is difficult if you don't have safe areas to walk or exercise. Similarly, you may not have been taught healthy ways of cooking, or you may not have access to healthier foods. In addition, the people you spend time with may influence your weight — you're more likely to develop obesity if you have friends or relatives with obesity.
Obesity can occur at any age, even in young children. But as you age, hormonal changes and a less active lifestyle increase your risk of obesity. In addition, the amount of muscle in your body tends to decrease with age. Generally, lower muscle mass leads to a decrease in metabolism. These changes also reduce calorie needs, and can make it harder to keep off excess weight. If you don't consciously control what you eat and become more physically active as you age, you'll likely gain weight.
- Pregnancy. Weight gain is common during pregnancy. Some women find this weight difficult to lose after the baby is born. This weight gain may contribute to the development of obesity in women. Breast-feeding may be the best option to lose the weight gained during pregnancy.
- Quitting smoking. Quitting smoking is often associated with weight gain. And for some, it can lead to enough weight gain to qualify as obesity. Often, this happens as people use food to cope with smoking withdrawal. In the long run, however, quitting smoking is still a greater benefit to your health than is continuing to smoke. Your doctor can help you prevent weight gain after quitting smoking.
- Lack of sleep. Not getting enough sleep or getting too much sleep can cause changes in hormones that increase your appetite. You may also crave foods high in calories and carbohydrates, which can contribute to weight gain.
- Stress. Many external factors that affect your mood and well-being may contribute to obesity. People often seek more high-calorie food when experiencing stressful situations.
- Microbiome. Your gut bacteria are affected by what you eat and may contribute to weight gain or difficulty losing weight.
- Previous attempts to lose weight. Previous attempts of weight loss followed by rapid weight regain may contribute to further weight gain. This phenomenon, sometimes called yo-yo dieting, can slow your metabolism.
Even if you have one or more of these risk factors, it doesn't mean that you're destined to develop obesity. You can counteract most risk factors through diet, physical activity and exercise, and behavior changes.
Symptoms of Obesity
Clinical obesity and weight gain can have a negative impact on your physical and mental health. Some symptoms or side effects of obesity include:
- Low back pain or Backaches
- Feeling tired all the time
- Heavy sweating
- Joint pain (especially weight-bearing knee and hip joints)
- Low confidence or self-esteem
- Shortness of breath
- Snoring or Sleep Apnoea