PCOS more prevalent with rise in adolescent obesity

The close association between obesity and PCOS is supported by epidemiological data, revealing that between 38 to 88 per cent of women with PCOS are either overweight or obese.

Swapnil MishraUpdated: Thursday, September 29, 2022, 08:51 AM IST
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PCOS more prevalent with rise in adolescent obesity |

The increased prevalence of adolescent obesity has driven a rise in the cases of obesity related co-morbidities, along with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) across the city. Doctors are witnessing 5 to 10 patients every week complaining of PCOS. Health experts said that being overweight, a sedentary lifestyle and genetics can be the driving factors behind PCOS.

The close association between obesity and PCOS is supported by epidemiological data, revealing that between 38 to 88 per cent of women with PCOS are either overweight or obese.

An estimated one in five Indian women suffers from PCOS. Obesity can occur because of lack of physical activities, excess diet, low cost easily available foods, high-density foods, high snack consumption, less exercise, availability of high-tech gadgets like televisions and computers that deter physical exercise, and various other reasons. As the level of obesity increases, it significantly increases the risk of developing life-threatening conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cancer, acidity problems, various gynaecological problems, and hormonal problems. Obesity is commonly tied to PCOS.

Misha Khanna (name changed) –a resident of Mumbai with a height of 5ft 3 inches – has been obese since childhood. However, during the Covid pandemic, she gained around 15kgs in a year due to a sedentary lifestyle. For a year she had an irregular menstrual cycle and was diagnosed with PCOS. The pre-investigations report suggested that she was pre-diabetic asher weight before surgery was 108.3 and her BMI was 42.2. She underwent laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy surgery to lose weight and her menstrual cycle started becoming regular after three months.

Currently, her weight is 87.5 kg and her BMI is 34.2. She will be losing more weight in the upcoming months. There are many patients like her who have obesity-induced PCOS.

Dr Manish Motwani, chief bariatric surgeon at Aastha Bariatrics Centre of Excellence in Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, said obesity during childhood and teenage years can lead to the development of PCOS. According to studies, PCOS is a highly prevalen to besity-related comorbidity in girls and women who are genetically predisposed to its development. If not treated in time, it can lead to serious health issues. PCOS is an endocrine condition that affects the ovaries and is seen in obese as well as non-obese women during reproductive age or adolescent years.

“The red flags are irregular menses, infertility, acne, and hirsutism (excessive hair growth). Adolescent girls with obesity have higher chances of infertility and childlessness in adulthood,” he said. Dr Pratima Thamke, consultant obstetrician & gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospital (Kharghar) said, “It is the need of the hour to manage PCOS by taking note of the symptoms and improving the quality of life.”

According to Dr Motwani, weight management during childhood will prevent PCOS development. “The right steps at the right time for the right stage of obesity will help prevent it and in getting relief from its complications. Eat a nutritious, balanced diet. Try to come down from being overweight to normal weight. For some women diet and exercise alone may not be enough to achieve a healthy weight.”

He added that if the BMI is greater than 30, bariatric surgery might be a good option.

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