Obesity – Causes, Symptoms, Signs, Investigations, Prevention, Treatment, Complication

Obesity: An Overview

Obesity is a complex disease that is basically the deposition of an excessive amount of fat in an individual. This condition is not just a concern, it is a medical problem that can increase the risk of the patient contracting other diseases and health concerns, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and certain forms of cancer. There are several reasons why people suffer from obesity. Usually, it is the result of several inherited factors combined with the environment, personal diet, and lifestyle choices. The good news is that even modest weight loss can improve the overall health and decrease health problems associated with obesity.

Symptoms Associated with Obesity

For most individuals, obesity has become a lifelong struggle. Obesity is caused by multiple factors, and although the principle of decreased calorie intake and rigorous exercise is a relatively simple concept, there are many reasons that lead to obesity in a person. The need to manage obesity is clear since it has become the cause of many other health problems including:
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Fungal rashes in skin folds
  • Lung disease
  • Gallstones
  • Depression
  • Insomnia from sleep apnea
  • Osteoarthritis (especially knee and hip joint pain, and lower back pain)
  • Colon cancer
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Gout
  • Dementia

When to See a Doctor?

If you are concerned or suffering from weight-related health problems, consult your doctor about obesity management. Your doctor can help you evaluate your health risks and discuss your weight-loss options that might include lifestyle and dietary changes, exercise, and medication if necessary.

Causes of Obesity

Although there are mostly genetic, behavioral, metabolic, and hormonal influences on body weight, obesity occurs when you consume more calories than you burn during the day via exercise and normal routine activities. Your body stores excess calories as fat. People with obesity might consume more calories before feeling full, feel hungry sooner than normal people, or eat more due to stress or anxiety. Complications Caused Due to Obesity
  • Heart disease and strokes
    Obesity makes you vulnerable to high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol levels, this increases the risk of heart diseases and stroke.
  • Type 2 diabetes
    Obesity can affect the way your body uses insulin to control blood sugar levels; this raises your risk of insulin resistance and may result in type 2 diabetes.
  • Certain forms of cancer
    Obesity may put you at risk of developing cancers of the uterus, cervix, ovary, breast, colon, rectum, endometrium, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, kidney and prostate.
  • Digestive problems
    It increases the likelihood that you will develop heartburns, gallbladder stones, and liver problems.
  • Gynecological and sexual problems
    Obesity may also cause infertility and irregular periods in women. It can also cause erectile dysfunction in men if the condition worsens.
  • Sleep apnea
    People with obesity generally have sleep apnea, a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing is repeatedly interrupted during sleep.
  • Osteoarthritis
    It increases the level of stress placed on our weight-bearing joints, in addition to promoting inflammation within the body. These factors often lead to complications such as osteoarthritis.

Obesity Management

Irrespective of whether you are at risk of obesity or not, you can take steps to prevent unhealthy weight gain and health-related problems. The steps to prevent weight gain and manage obesity are as follows:-

  • Exercise Regularly
    You need at least 30 minutes to 1-hour moderate-intensity activity every day or at least 5 days a week to manage obesity. Moderately intense workout or any other physical activity may include fast walking, swimming, yoga, aerobics, take up any sport like badminton, football, etc.
  • Follow a Healthy-eating Routine
    Focus on low-carbs and nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Say NO to saturated fats, processed or packaged foods, and limit the sweets and alcohol. Eat a regular home-cooked three-course meal with limited room for snacking. Just be sure to pick foods that promote a healthy gut and good health.
  • Know and Avoid the Food Traps
    Identify situations that trigger out-of-control eating like stressed situations, you tend to eat more when the stress levels are high. You can also try keeping a journal or a food diary and note down everything you eat, how much you eat, and when you eat. This will help you stay in control of your appetite and keep track of eating behaviors.
  • Monitor your Weight Regularly
    People who weigh themselves at least once a week or every fifteen days are more successful in keeping off excess weight. Monitoring your weight regularly keeps you conscious, on track, and helps you detect small weight gains before they become big problems.
  • Be Consistent
    Sticking to your healthy routine increases your chances of long-term success. So don't break this routine on the weekend or vacation, this will take you back to square one. This also includes skipping gym, yoga, or whatever physical activity you have picked up. Be consistent and regular in your sessions and don’t skip them.

Dr. Divaanshu Gupta

Dr. Divaanshu Gupta is a cardiac anaesthesiologist in Manipal Hospital, Jaipur. He has done his M.B.B.S. as well as M.D. Anaesthesia from S.M.S. Medical College. He has a vast experience of working in various critical care units of government as well as corporate hospitals.

More Resources