Obesity / weight gain, is a horrific word to the ears of most women? In today’s modern world where rights are very important, it is socially unacceptable to call anyone obese or overweight as it hurts sentiments and may reflect body shaming. However, in the larger context, we have to understand that obesity is a disease. In 1998, WHO defined Obesity as a disease? And just like any other disease , we need to treat it as a disease .Obesity , if left untreated can cause multiple complications affecting all systems of the body and may even lead to death.
Obesity can occur at any age right from childhood to teens to adulthood and senior citizens. The complications remain more or less the same in all age groups.
Some of the common causes are:
Eating large of processed or fast food which is high in fat and sugar
Drinking too much alcohol as it contains a lot of calories
Eating out regularly or eating larger portion sizes than required
Having a large number of sugary drinks
Comfort eating for those who have low self-esteem or feel depressed , making them feel better
Hormonal fluctuations especially of estrogen, progesterone and DHEAS
Lack of physical activity
Lack of sleep or difficulty in falling asleep or remaining asleep. Hormone imbalances caused by poor sleep might influence your appetite and dietary preferences. Lack of sleep can have an impact on how much exercise or physical activity you get throughout the day.
Excessive use of gadgets affects sleep patterns. Blue light from the gadget suppresses melatonin (sleep hormone) thus affecting sleep.
Genetics or family history of obesity-There are many genes that work together to gain weight. Your environment also affects your genes. When you are a baby or young child, your parents or caregivers control your eating and physical activity. This family background can influence your weight as an adult.
Certain medications for diabetes , epilepsy , antidepressants, Corticosteroid
A large number of women gain weight post pregnancy and in the postmenopausal period.
Water retention may occur premenstrual period leading to weight gain
Metabolism plays a very role and may result in weight gain. Metabolism may change throughout her life, such as with the hormonal changes that happen during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause.
Age may slow down metabolism leading to weight gain and obesity. With age , there is loss of muscle leading to fat deposition ad weight gain
Trauma -Women who experience serious, negative events during childhood, such as abuse or a parent with a problem with alcohol or drugs, are more likely to have obesity as adults.
Which don’t have sidewalks or parks may not be safe to walk around outside in other neighborhoods. Some places where people live have so much traffic that it may be difficult for people with disabilities to get around outside
Lack of food options – Some people live near many fast-food restaurants but no grocery stores.
Air pollution, including secondhand smoke, is linked to obesity. Some researchers think that chemicals from pollution in the food we eat can lead to obesity. Sometimes living close to highways or other busy roads may increase your chances of obesity.
Complications of obesity: Physical & emotional
Heart problems – high blood pressure , high lipids , atherosclerosis (narrowing of blood vessels ) and heart attacks
Type 2 diabetes and complications of diabetes
Brain Stroke and paralysis
Obstructive sleep apnoea leading to sudden cessation of breathing causing sudden death
Fungal infections on body
Hair loss , loss of skin tone
Irritable bowel syndrome
Respiratory – breathing problems , pneumonias
Infertility in both men and women
PCOS in women
Joint pains – knee joints , ankle joints , lower back aches , posture problems
Peripheral neuropathy as nerves are affected leading to tingling sensation on palms of hands & soles of feet
Low self esteem
Low self confidence
Poor interpersonal relationships
Discrimination at work and career
It is imperative to understand that obesity is a diseases and needs to be treated.
Body mass index (BMI) to be calculated to find out the extent of obesity and then devise the treatment protocol.
Investigations are necessary to identify the cause of obesity and provide the necessary treatment.
Lifestyle modification with respect to nutrition, physical activity, sleep, alcohol intake, gadget use and counseling.
Support from family, friends and work environment goes a long way to rehabilitate individuals with obesity.
Those individuals whose BMI is above 40 (morbid obesity) and who have undergone lifestyle modifications for at least 6-8 months, without any benefit are candidates for undergoing bariatric surgery.