Obesity is a condition that occurs due to excess fat accumulation in the body. When one consumes more calories than one burns through normal daily activities and exercise, the excess calories get stored in the body as fat. Over time, with the constant accumulation of excessive fat, the body weight increases to tip the scale towards obesity.
In an exclusive interaction with OnlyMyHealth, Dr. Jayaraj Magnus Mansard, Senior Consultant from the Department of Minimally Invasive Bariatric & GI Surgery, explains that obesity is not just a cosmetic concern. Previously considered as a behavioural abnormality, it is now recognised as a complex disease that requires treatment. It increases the risk of developing other diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and sleep apnea. Heart disease and stroke can decrease the lifespan of a person. Obesity can diminish the overall quality of life. One may not be able to do physical activities that they used to enjoy. Depression, disability, shame, and guilt can further reduce the quality of life.
Obesity has become a leading public health concern in India reaching epidemic proportions. The prevalence of obesity among Indians increased in 2019-21 compared to 2015-16, as per the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) data. Nearly one in every four people is overweight compared to one in every five earlier. With the lack of activity during the lockdown periods and the access to excessively calorific fast food thanks to home delivery options in the recent past, clinicians are witnessing rapid weight gain among their patients in the last couple of years.
When should you see a doctor?
Self-awareness is the first step towards resolution of this problem. The obese person should realise that obesity is a disease with multiple health concerns that can complicate their life and they should ask their doctor about obesity management. The good news is that this condition is entirely reversible. The doctor will analyse and discuss the health risks associated with the excess weight and the various treatment options available.
Although there are genetic, behavioural, metabolic, and hormonal influences on body weight, obesity occurs due to excessive intake of calories and decreased physical activity (positive calorie balance). Getting into a calorie deficit mode, by dieting and increasing physical activity and exercise, can lead to loss of excess body fat. Losing excess body weight not only decreases the health risks, but also tremendously improves one’s mood and quality of life.
It is not easy for everyone to change their behavioural patterns to decrease weight, and many fail to lose weight or regain lost weight after some time. Such patients, with their doctor’s help, can explore other options that include medicines, endoscopic and (the most effective) laparoscopic methods to lose weight.