#WorldObesityDay: The Obesity Crisis –Not Just A Lifestyle Issue But A Chronic Disorder

Earlier abdominal obesity was more prevalent in India but now a day’s overall obesity and BMI is also increasing in India.

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By Dr. Shashank Joshi- Diabetologist and Endocrinologist

Obesity has led to a host of other health woes growing at an alarming rate in India, including hypertension and diabetes. According to ICMR-INDIAB study 2015, prevalence rate of obesity and central obesity varies from 11.8% to 31.3% and 16.9%-36.3%, respectively.

Earlier abdominal obesity was more prevalent in India but now a day’s overall obesity and BMI is also increasing in India.

Many people believe that there’s a simple explanation for why they live with obesity – they eat more than they need. But lifestyle is one of the many causes that make our bodies want to pile on – and keep – the extra pounds. When it comes to obesity, multiple factors are at play including genetics, environmental factors, dietary habits, childhood habits, medical conditions, and hormones. Though becoming overweight or obese may not be a choice and shedding excess weight may be difficult, you can lose weight if you choose to.

Today, more people than ever live with obesity. Many are struggling to lose weight. And those who succeed often find that their weight creeps back up to where it was before within a few weeks – despite being active and counting calories. To understand what makes it hard to lose excess weight and keep it off, we need to turn to medical science. Research keeps showing that obesity is not a personality flaw. It’s a complex metabolic disease. And as with any disease, there’s only so much that we can do with lifestyle change

While there are many arguments that indicate that obesity is a lifestyle disorder, what many do not understand is the severity of the disorder and the host of other problems it can lead to. Living with obesity can affect many aspects of a person’s life, health, and wellbeing. More and more people around the world are living with excess weight, but only a fraction of them are currently receiving treatment. Treatment for obesity may involve surgical or non-surgical methods.

The cultural factors too are significant, which can be solved as people become more health-aware and become more conscious of their dietary habits. Lifestyle and environmental factor play an important role as obesity is an eating disorder. Eating habits plays an important role in obesity. The more we eat, and lesser physical activity will lead to obesity. Working late till night will also trigger obesity as it will lead to increased eating.

“Most people with obesity see weight loss as solely their responsibility, which may prevent them from seeking help. It is critical to realise that obesity is not just caused by overeating. It is a chronic condition which includes genetics, environment, and behaviour and tough to fight alone. A medically thorough program that suits the lifestyle, preference, and condition of the patient should be adopted” said, Dr. Shashank Joshi- Diabetologist and Endocrinologist – Lilavati Hospital – Mumbai

The eating-out culture that has pervaded Indian society is one of the many cultural factors behind malnutrition, but cultural shifts happen gradually, and little external control can be exercised upon it. On the other hand, for people whom affordability dictates food choices, cultural shifts matter little if they do not have the luxury of choosing what they eat. So, while they may be suggested to eat certain foods or make lifestyle choices, it does not guarantee weight loss, especially because they cannot afford many of these changes.

The key to a perfect weight loss plan or beating obesity is understanding the science behind it,and consulting an expert who knows the right treatment for you. Whether you need surgical procedure or not, is something that a doctor can decide only once they have assessed your condition well.

According to Dr. Ambrish Mithal- Head of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Max Healthcare Hospital, New Delhi “Obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and dyslipidemia are diseases of metabolism. Most obese people have one or a combination of these. Like diabetes obesity is also a chronic disease and require treatment for lifetime. It hampers the mental and physical quality of life. Therefore, the focus should be on long term care and prevention. However, there is a lot of social stigma associated with obesity due to which the patients hesitate to consult an expert for proper guidance. If you are obese, you need to be treated. Weight loss medications sometimes, in fact, in many cases, work better than lifestyle programs.”

“Whether it’s behavioural therapy, the anti-obesity medication, or bariatric surgery, there are several different ways to treat obesity. A trained healthcare provider can help to design a weight management plan specifically for an individual, by combining different treatments that work in different ways. No single management strategy will work for all patients. Any successful management plan involves long-term coping strategies that help patients reduce their body weight and prevent weight regain. People living with obesity, therefore, need a personalized treatment plan, designed specifically for them”, quoted Dr. R Santhosh, Consultant Endocrinologist at Magna code Hospital, Hyderabad

Commenting on how to manage and treatment for obesity Dr. Anil Bhansali, Professor, Department of Endocriniology, PGIMER, Chandigarh says “Losing weight and maintaining it is hard because of how your body responds to weight loss. After losing weight, the body tries to put it back on. Some of the treatments for overweight and obesity includes losing weight through healthy eating, being more physically active, and making other changes to your usual habits.  Weight-management programs may help some people lose weight or keep from regaining lost weight. Some people who have obesity are unable to lose enough weight to improve their health or are unable to keep from regaining weight. In such cases, a doctor may consider adding other treatments, including weight-loss medicines, weight-loss devices, or bariatric surgery. The best way to start your weight loss program is to recognize to talk to your physician and understand where you are going wrong and identify right interventions that will help you effectively manage obesity.”

The plan might include several different treatment options. And as one progresses through the weight management journey, different types of treatments might become relevant. That’s why the weight management plan should be tailored to your needs and may evolve over time to provide the best results.

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