Obesity is a condition that describes a person who is overweight. It is a complex disorder of having excessive amount of body fat. It represents a big concern as it increases the risk for developing other health problems and diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Extremely obese people are more likely to develop health problems that are associated with weight. Even minor weight loss can improve the health problems or prevent possible medical conditions and diseases related to obesity. Obesity can be treated by changing the eating habits and increasing the level of physical activity. Additional treatment options can be medications and surgery.
Obesity means having too much body fat excess. Usually, obesity is diagnosed if a person has a body mass index that is 30 or higher. The body mass index or BMI can be calculated by dividing the weight in kilograms by the height in meters squared. A doctor or health provider can help in measuring a person’s BMI and further evaluation of the condition, the health risks and problems that may appear, as well as options on how to lose weight and fight obesity.
Obesity happens when the intake of calories is bigger than those burned with the daily activities and exercise. The body then stores the excess calories as fat. In rare cases, the cause for obesity can be some medical conditions such as Prader-Willi syndrome, Cushing’s syndrome and others. The main reasons for a person to become obese are:
- Being inactive: A person with a sedentary lifestyle usually has higher intake of calories than the amount of calories being burned through exercise or everyday activities
- Unhealthy eating habit: Regular intake of unhealthy and high-in-calories foods lead to weight gain especially if one eats more than one burns
Obesity is typically a result of causes in combination with certain factors, such as:
- Unhealthy diet
- Lack of sleep
- Quitting smoking
- Medical problems
- Some medications
Number of possibly serious health problems can develop if a person is obese. They are:
- High triglycerides and low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol
- Metabolic syndrome-combination of high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol
- Diabetes-type 2
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Cancers of the uterus, cervix, endometrium, ovaries, breast, colon, rectum, esophagus, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, kidney and prostate
- Gallbladder disease
- Gynecological problems such as infertility and irregular periods
- Erectile dysfunction
- Sexual health issues
The quality of life can be significantly changed if a person is obese. Some obese people are not able to do normal things, to perform tasks as they used to or participate in activities in which they enjoy. Some even face discrimination and avoid showing up in public places. Weight-related issues than can affect the quality of everyday life can be: disability, inability to perform everyday tasks easily, low work achievement, sexual problems, depression, shame, guilt and social isolation.
The treatment of obesity should result in healthy weight. The goal is to reach and stay in good shape. In order to do that, obese people usually need to consult and work with a team of professionals who will help in understanding the condition and making the necessary changes. Usually the treatment includes changes in the eating and activity habits. The goal is to initially lose a modest weight. The weight-loss programs usually include dietary and behavior changes and increased physical activity and exercises. Other treatments can be weight-loss medications and surgery.
Dietary changes shouldn’t be drastic and unrealistic. There is no best weight-loss diet program. A person should choose a diet that includes healthy food that will be good for him/her. Some of the dietary changes that should be considered are:
- Cut the intake of calories
- Satisfy the hunger with less calories
- Eat foods that have lower energy density such as fruits and vegetables
- Eat healthier meals based on plant foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole-grains, as well as lean protein foods such as beans, lentils, soy and lean meats and fish
- Limit the amount of salt and sugar added in foods and beverages
- Eat low-fat dairy products
- Eat small amounts of fats that come from healthy sources such as olives, canola or nuts
- Eliminate sugar-sweetened drinks
- Eat healthy snacks
Exercising regularly and being physically active is an essential part of the treatment for obesity. A person should exercise for at least 3 hours a week or about an hour every day in order to achieve better results. Even making simple changes like walking more, doing household chores or gardening can be additionally beneficial.
Changing everyday habits and finding out possible factors, stress or situations that may contribute to the condition can help in the fight. Sometimes behavior therapy such as counseling and support groups can also help to cope with the situation better and achieve better results.
Sometimes, weight-loss medications can be prescribed in which case the patient should be regularly and closely monitored.
It is also possible to undergo a weight-loss surgery. These surgeries, also called bariatric surgeries, limit the amount of food the person is able to eat comfortably, diminish the food and calories absorption or both. Some of the surgery options can be:
- Gastric bypass surgery
- Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB)
- Biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch
- Gastric sleeve
In order to prevent weight gain and related health problems, a person should:
- Exercise regularly
- Follow a healthy eating plan
- Regularly monitor the weight
- Be consistent