Friday, 21 September 2012

The Heavy Threat

Being overweight and obese are conditions consequent to excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health. In fact, anything that is over or above accepted norms is not favorable for the body.

It is a bitter irony that as developing countries continue their efforts to reduce hunger, some are also facing the opposing problem of obesity.  "Unfortunately, food doesn't always get to the people who need it most." Hunger is one result. Obesity is another. Though data on obesity in the developing world are limited, preliminary studies indicate that some of the same nutrient deficiencies in the underfed also afflict the overfed. Two of the most common are iron deficiency - anemia and vitamin-A deficiency, which continues to cause widespread blindness in children under five.

In the WHO Region for Europe, Eastern Mediterranean and for the Americas over 50% of the women were overweight. For all three of these regions, roughly half of overweight women are obese (23% in Europe, 24% in the Eastern Mediterranean, 29% in the Americas). In all WHO regions, women were more likely to be obese than men. In the WHO regions for Africa, Eastern Mediterranean and South East Asia, women had roughly doubled the obesity prevalence of men.

Being overweight has become a serious health threat for women at every stage of life. It is deemed a serious factor in over 30 conditions that effect women. As the prevalence of obesity has grown significantly, it has become the second largest cause of preventable death in the United States, following tobacco. Recent research is clarifying the relationship of obesity to breast cancer. "The percentage of postmenopausal breast cancer accounted for by weight gain alone was approximately 16% and by hormone replacement therapy alone was 5% but when the interaction between these variables was considered, together they accounted for about one-third of postmenopausal breast cancers."

Excess body fat is related to menstrual abnormality, infertility, miscarriage and difficulties in performing assisted reproduction. High pre-pregnancy weight is associated with an increased risk in pregnancy of hypertension, toxemia, gestational diabetes, urinary infection, macrosomia and cesarean sections. Obesity was found to be a strong risk factor for several urinary symptoms after pregnancy and delivery or as long as 6-18 months postpartum. Raised body mass index (BMI- measure of weight relative to height) also increases the risk of cancer of the breast, colon, prostate, endometrium, kidney and gall bladder. The prevalence of raised body mass index increases with income level of countries up to upper middle income levels.

Obesity affects the psychology of a woman as well. A sense of inferiority and feebleness gather importance in life. Hence, obesity not only has physical bearing but also mental and psychological after effects. After all,
A healthy mind always resides in a healthy body

To achieve optimum health, the median body mass index for an adult population should be in the range of 21 to 23 kg/m2, while the goal for individuals should be to maintain body mass index in the range 18.5 to 24.9 kg/m2. The main treatment for obesity consists of dieting and physical exercises. Diet programs may produce weight loss over the short term but maintaining this weight loss is frequently difficult and often requires making exercise and a lower food energy diet a permanent part of a person's lifestyle. Weight reduction of even a kilogram boosts up confidence level. The most effective treatment for obesity is bariatric surgery (weight loss surgery). Surgery for severe obesity is associated with long-term weight loss and decreased overall mortality.

Still it’s always better to opt for prevention than cure.

Written by Dr. Aakshi Kalra

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