Obesity – The ‘growing’ concern

A hundred years ago no one would have predicted that Obesity would become a global epidemic of this magnitude. There is a humorous yet thought-provoking, subtle yet hard-hitting take on obesity, which makes its rounds amongst the medical fraternity. A patient goes to see his local physician and as part of his family’s medical history he says, “Doctor, diabetes, heart disease and obesity all run in my family”. The Doctor in turn replies, “Mr. Mehta, it is because no one runs in your family“. It is obvious that this conversation encompasses the solid reason why one would be susceptible to serious health problems. These health problems could take away the joy of leading a peaceful and healthy life. The root cause is evident – Obesity.

Obesity and overweight refer to a body weight which is greater than what is considered to be normal and healthy for a person’s height. Body mass index (BMI) helps to determine whether the individual has an appropriate weight for his/her height. More than one-third of adults and almost a fifth of all children and adolescents are obese across the globe. Being obese reduces your life expectancy
by up to 8 to 10 years!

India, a country of where almost 400 million people live below the poverty line and thousands of children die each day due to malnutrition, still manages to come third after the USA and China in the “Global Hazard list of Top 10 countries with the highest number of obese people”. India has a whopping 30 million obese people. It also has the accolade of being the diabetic capital as well as the Coronary Artery Disease Capital of the world.

Being obese or overweight puts you at higher risk for various health related problems including Coronary heart disease, Hypertension, Type 2 Diabetes, Breast cancer, Arthritis, Gall stones and others.

The great irony of obesity is that it is for sale all around us. We buy obesity with our hard earned money when we opt to buy fast food and junk snacks. We choose a shorter less healthy life each time we swipe our credit cards to pay for sugary colas or a sweetened carbonated drink. You get the point. Obesity and the associated conditions are entirely preventable.

There are many underlying mechanisms that fuel obesity. Hormonal imbalance, consuming more calories than we burn, sluggish metabolism, high stress, sedentary lifestyle and genetic factors are amongst the key factors. Know the role of your DNA in Obesity. The good news is that almost all of these risks can be blunted via a combination of nutritional regulation and physical activity.

In this blog series, we will systematically present the root causes of obesity and the solutions to counter it.