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Obesity is a serious problem worldwide that affects millions of people. According to WHO, global prevalence of obesity has almost tripled in last 40 years. Approximately 50% of the adults worldwide are overweight or obese. The recent studies and WHO data shows that following countries have highest prevalence:

  1. USA
  2. China
  3. India
  4. Brazil
  5. Mexico
  6. Russia
  7. Egypt
  8. Turkey
  9. Iran
  10. Nigeria

You can find your country’s obesity index and ranking at https://vizhub.healthdata.org/obesity/  

Causes of Obesity

It occurs when there is an excessive amount of fat in the body. There are many different causes of obesity. Finding the cause of the obesity can help determine which treatment will be the most effective. Some common causes of obesity include:

Problems due to Obesity

The symptoms of obesity vary by individual and can range in severity. The most obvious symptom is the amount of fat on the body. Many people are aware of the symptoms but fail to see the effects they are having on their health. Many patients only seek treatment after their obesity has become severe or after they have been diagnosed with health problems caused by the obesity. Other problems that accompany obesity include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Joint pain
  • Diabetes
  • Immobility
  • Skin problems
  • Digestive issues
  • Menstruation problems in women
  • Elevated Cholesterol
  • Heart attack and Stoke

 

Diagnosis of Obesity

Doctors use a scale that measures obesity called the Body Mass Index, or BMI for short. If a patient has a BMI from 25.0 to 29.9, they are considered overweight. A BMI of 30.0 to 34.9 is considered class 1 obesity, 35.0 to 39.9 is considered class 2 obesity, and 40.0 or higher is considered extreme obesity. Doctors use this scale to determine if a person is obese and the severity of the obesity. Other ways obesity is diagnosed include:

  • Health history
  • Physical exams
  • Waist measurements
  • Identifying underlying health problems
  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests

Treatment of Obesity

Treatment is often focused on prevention. People who are overweight are monitored regularly and given strict diet and exercise regimens to follow to avoid becoming obese. Doctors may also refer patients to counselors who can determine if their overeating is the result of an emotional trauma. Some other common treatments for obesity include:

  • Changes to Diet – Nutritionists can design diet plans that are meant to help patients reach a desired weight loss goal.
  • Physical Therapy – Patients who are inactive or immobile will be referred to physical therapists who can help them become more active over time.
  • Behavioral Therapy – Obesity is often caused by overeating, and overeating is often caused by certain triggers. Behavioral therapy can help teach patients to avoid and ignore triggers and cravings.
  • Setting Weight Loss Goals – Doctors will set small goals that are reasonable and achievable for the patient.
  • Medications – There are weight loss drugs that can help with appetite suppression and metabolism.
  • Weight Loss Surgery – Weight loss surgery makes the stomach smaller, so it cannot hold much food and the patient will feel fuller faster and eat less.

 

Prognosis of Obesity

People who seek treatment and follow through with it are very likely to reach a healthy weight and overcome obesity. Unfortunately, many people struggle with breaking bad habits and, even with weight loss surgery, gain the weight back. Success depends on the patient’s willingness to agree to treatment and follow through with it.  

A healthier lifestyle also leads to a greatly decreased risk of cancer

Resources:

  1. who.org
  2. http://www.healthdata.org/gbd
  3. http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(14)60460-8/abstract

 

Internal Medicine, Obesity


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