What is obesity?



Obesity is a medical condition that occurs when a person weighs considerably more than is considered healthy. This extra weight can put extra strain on the body and serious health complications can arise if treatment is not sought and the weight is not lost.



What is Body mass index (BMI)?



BMI is a way medical professionals check if you are at a healthy weight for your height. BMI is calculated as -Weight in kilograms/ (height in meter)2 For example if your weight is 60 kg and height is 160 cm = 1.60 m, your BMI will be 60/1.60x 1.60 = 23.4



What is cut off for BMI, to classify a person as overweight or obese worldwide?



As per World Health Organization (WHO) criteria, your BMI should fall between 18.5 and 24.9 to be normal. If your BMI is between 25 and 29.9 you are overweight. A BMI ≥ 30 classifies you as obese. People who have a BMI of ≥ 40 fall into the ‘morbidly obese’ weight bracket.



Is these cut off of BMI different for Indians, to classify them as overweight or obese?



Yes. As per classification system suggested for Indians, if your BMI is between 23 and 24.9 you are overweight. A BMI between ≥ 25 classifies you as obese.



Are Indians at more risk of bad effects of overweight or obese at lower BMI as compared to other races?



Yes. At the same level of BMI, Indians have higher body fat, higher risk of diabetes, hypertension, cardiac and other problems related to obesity as compared to other races. That’s why a lower cut off for BMI has been suggested to classify them as overweight or obese.



Why obesity is an Endocrine problem?



Many cases cause of obesity may be because of hormonal disturbances like hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland), excess of cortisol (a hormone secreted by adrenal gland); in these cases cure of hormonal problem may results in normalization of weight. Also, obesity itself may results in disturbance in other hormones in our body, like increase in serum insulin and insulin resistance, which predisposes one to increased risk of developing diabetes. All obese people should seek consultation with Endocrinologist, and get themselves evaluated as per their advice.



What factors contribute to the development of obesity?



Numerous factors can lead to obesity, but the most common cause is a sedentary lifestyle combined with bad diet and lack of exercise. As most of us do not have physical occupations, it becomes harder to get enough exercise during our daily routine. Consuming large portions of fatty foods, sweet foods and sugary drinks (high in calories and low in nutrients) consumed on a frequent basis leads rapid weight gain. Other possible causes can be due to stress or insomnia; the use of antidepressants and steroids; and hormone problems, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome or Cushing’s syndrome.



Is obesity hereditary?



Obesity often runs in families, which suggests there is a genetic link. Parents also pass on common dietary habits to their children and may share a similar attitude towards physical exercise and lifestyle habits. However, there is no certainty that these factors must result in obesity; they may contribute, but do not make obesity a certainty.



Can anyone become obese?



Potentially, any individual could become obese. However, certain groups of people will be more inclined to the condition than others, depending on certain genetic, medical and environmental factors. People who have a bad diet and do not exercise regularly are far more likely to become obese than those who eat healthily and exercise.



Is obesity only a cosmetic problem or a medically dangerous too?



Obesity is considered to be a dangerous condition because it may lead to a number of serious health problems, such as high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and various cancers. Other problems that can arise as a result of obesity include depression, acne, gallstones, breathlessness, difficulty sleeping, social anxiety and trouble with walking or running. Also, women who are obese are more likely to have problems during and after pregnancy.



How can I prevent obesity from developing?



Following a healthy eating plan, decreasing the size of your meals, more regular exercise, regular monitoring of your weight helps you in preventing yourself from getting obese. Experts recommend exercising for at least half an hour every day to stay active and healthy. You should make a particular effort to do this if you have a predominantly sedentary lifestyle.



How to lose weight?



First line treatment is proper diet and exercise. Almost everyone who receives a diagnosis of obesity will be advised to first make a serious of lifestyle changes before any form of medical treatment is attempted. This is because, for most people, healthy diet and regular exercise will be all that is needed to lose weight healthily and permanently. As results can take some time to become visible, it is often difficult to stay motivated, and for this reason many people find some form of support group helpful. If there is a specific medical condition that is giving rise to obesity that needs to be corrected. If these changes are implemented but do not produce results, you may be prescribed medication to help produce effective results.



Will medications help me losing weight?



Some medications like orlistat, sibutramine etc. are clinically proven to help people lose weight, but their effect is modest only. Medications should be taken alongside a healthy diet and regular exercise for effective and long-term results. For Indians medications are recommended for BMI above 27 kg/m2 without any co-morbidity, or a BMI above 25 kg/m2 if person has any obesity related co-morbidities like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol.



What is bariatric surgery?



Bariatric surgery helps you lose weight by altering your body’s food digestion and absorption. It is the treatment option for those with morbid obesity. Various procedures are gastric banding, sleeve gastrectomy, and Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. You can get detailed information related to these procedures from Bariatric surgeon or Endocrinologist. For Indians bariatric surgery is recommended for BMI above BMI above 37.5 kg/m2 without co-morbidity, and BMI above 37.5 kg/m2, if person has any obesity related co-morbidities like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol.