Obesity is a slow pandemic and one must be careful especially about childhood obesity, as per experts. The national Anti-Obesity day is celebrated on November 26 every year to create awareness of dangers of obesity and prevention of the pandemic.
Dr Shyam Sundar C.M.A Consultant Endocrinology and Diabetology, SPARSH Hospital states that obesity is a slow pandemic which has been increasing in the past 15 to 20 years. "We now have access to everything and have fewer reasons to step outside of our homes. The more time we spend sitting, it increases the risk of obesity and it will lead to further complications. It is said that the longer you sit, it is almost equivalent to smoking," he explained.
Dr Chaitra Krishnagiri, Chief Pathologist, SRL Diagnostics, Bangalore stated that overweight and obesity are the biggest challenges in today's scenario. "Obesity is the forerunner for multiple illnesses such as Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. The eating habits coupled with sedentary desk job are creating more and more obese people," she said.
"What is alarming now is the increase in the number of children that are becoming overweight and obese. Childhood obesity is very real and a difficult condition to deal with," she added.
"In the past 2.5 years, many children have developed childhood obesity due to no physical activity, online school, and increase in junk food consumption. As a society, we need to work towards reducing this by cutting down too much sugar and salt in their diet and encouraging them to play outdoors," Dr Krishnagiri stated.
Dr Shyam Sundar further explained that obesity basically has numerous definitions. One of the definitions would be, increase in the body mass index, i.e, weight for height is quite high. It depends on the different ethnicities as well. For Asians, it is more than 23 kg per meter square as overweight and more than 25 kg per meter squared as obese.
"There is also another definition, though you are obese, your BMI could be low but your waist circumference is high. (People who are lean but have a bigger tummy). The waist circumference cut offs are also there for Indians. In females, if it is more than 80 centimeters, and in males it is more than 90 centimeters, it is also a form of obesity," he said.
"Even though your weight for your height is normal and your BMI is less than 23, if your abdominal circumference has increased, that quantifies as obesity. So it's not only your weight, your abdominal circumference is also a marker of obesity," he explained.
Obesity has various health implications. Obesity affects the liver. There is fatty deposition in the liver and later can lead to cirrhosis and liver failure.
It also increases the resistance for the action of insulin. So, eventually when the pancreas gets burnt out of secretion because it is continuously secreting higher amounts of insulin. So that is when one develops diabetes.
Obesity also can lead to a condition known as obstructive sleep apnea. Due to obesity, there is excessive snoring, and that has further health implications such as increasing heart attacks, increasing blood pressure and diabetes mellitus.
It also affects reproductive function. In females, it tends to cause an increase in the testosterone levels which will lead to the abnormal hair growth, oligomenorrhea (irregularities in the menstrual cycle) and PCOS (Polycystic ovarian syndrome).
In men, due to obesity, they tend to have lesser testosterone levels and that will lead to a decreased libido and erectile dysfunction.
"Being overweight and obesity will also affect the joints in the body, leading to more pressure on knees and ankles leading to osteoarthritis in the later stages," Dr Shyam Sundar elaborated.
"So, a simple suggestion would be, make sure that you don't sit for more than 20 or 25 minutes at a stretch. Take a break of five minutes, go out for a walk then get back to work. This is the simplest method to prevent the development of obesity and other complications," he said.
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