Healthy Living (Wellness & Prevention)

Obesity: The New Age Epidemic

Written by Dr. Alok Vinod Kulkarni and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

 

An epidemic is something that spreads rapidly and affects an inordinately large number of people at the same time. There will be a rapid rise in the number of new cases well above the defined baseline. By this simplistic definition, obesity fits the bill rather perfectly. Obesity is a lifestyle disease. That is, it occurs due to a combination of factors, most notably due to a faulty lifestyle.

Body Mass Index (BMI):

When the (Body Mass Index) BMI is equal to or more than 30 kg/meter square, a person is said to be obese. There are three grades of obesity and a person with a BMI equal to or more than that of 40 kg/meter square is said to be 'morbidly obese', or said to have grade 3 obesity. Obesity is not the same as being overweight. A BMI of 25 kg/meter square or exceeding that is classified as being overweight.

Causes of Obesity:

  • Like many of the new-age lifestyle diseases, obesity too runs in families. It has a genetic preponderance. Polymorphisms involving the leptin gene or leptin receptor deficiency are some of the commonly identified genetic risk factors for this dreaded disease.
  • Along with genes, a number of other factors also contribute to the ever expanding modern day waistlines. These include a sedentary lifestyle, faulty dietary habits, lack of physical exercise and the enormous stress that is prevalent these days.
  • Modern day gadgets like the smartphone, ipad, tablets and computer have assumed a pivotal role in the causation of obesity. Individuals who are hooked onto these devices, become couch potatoes and lack physical exercise. They strain their eyes, but not their bellies and they keep staring into their computer screens, either tweeting or facebooking. This becomes a habit and the mere mention of exercise startles such individuals.
  • Junk foods contain monosodium glutamate (MSG), an ingredient that enhances the taste of a food item but is toxic to the body. High calorific value with zero nutritional content in these junk foods is the harbinger of many a malady.
  • In the good old days, people used to bend their backs and till their lands. This provided adequate physical exercise and they lived well past their prime without falling sick or harboring illnesses like diabetes mellitus or hypertension. But the sedentary lifestyle of people has increased the number of obese individuals these days.

Medical Complications due to Obesity:

Obesity comes with its fair share of other medical complications. Obesity increases the risk for diabetes mellitus, hypertension, osteoarthritis, obstructive sleep apnea, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), gall bladder stones, and depression. Unfortunately, doctors are being the victims to this disease as a result of their long consulting hours which leaves little room for exercise, modern day stresses and unhealthy eating patterns.

How do we Fight this Modern Day Epidemic?

Here are a few time tested solutions.

  • Never Skip Breakfast: Regularize your eating habits. Have a hearty breakfast, which will not only increase the fat metabolism throughout the day, but will also give you enough energy to expend during the day. Do not overeat during dinner time. Give up on junk food, or at least restrict it to a bare minimum. Have frequent small meals. It is advisable to eat 6 to 8 times in a day, with small to moderate servings.
  • Get Adequate Physical Exercise: Brisk walking for an hour per day will do a world of good to everybody. It will keep us supple and our joints mobile. Walking is economical and injury free. Swimming is another great option to burn the calories. It also comes with the advantage of being injury free as it is a non-weight bearing exercise.
  • Restrict Screen Time: Reduce the screen time to less than an hour per day. By screen time, we mean interactions on the social media platforms and watching television. These will only help us in slumping to our chairs and provide no motivation to move around. Play any form of sport. This not only helps in socializing with others, but also is a fun way to remain fit.
  • Practice Yoga: Yoga is another option to stay supple. It calms one's mind and also energizes oneself. Studies show that regular practice of yoga can increase the expression of a chemical called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), which helps in fighting memory problems, sleeplessness and depression.
  • Those with a BMI of more than 40 would require bariatric surgery to help them reduce weight.

Although we have failed to nip this disease in the bud, we can at least hope to halt its progression.

Read this article to know about the causes of obesity in detail --> https://www.icliniq.com/health-articles/health-topics/diet-and-nutrition/what-is-obesity-what-are-the-reasons-for-it

Last reviewed at: 07.Sep.2018

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