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Lifestyle 17 Nov 2016

Understanding Obesity

Preventing and reversing its impact on your health

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Obesity is an increasing problem across the globe; in 2014 over 600 million adults were obese, that’s 13% of the world’s adult population.

Being overweight or obese increases the risk of acquiring certain chronic diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and even cancer. A person who is considered obese has a body mass index (BMI) above 30 while an overweight person is defined as having a BMI between 25-29.

Work out your own BMI by dividing your weight (in kilograms, kg) by the square of your height (m2).

For example:

If your height is 180cm/1.8m and your weight is 75kg, your BMI would be calculated as follows

Step 1: Multiply your height in meters by itself 1.8 X 1.8 = 3.24

Step 2: Divide your weight in kilograms by the number you got in step 1 75 / 3.24 = 23.15

Causes of obesity

The main cause of obesity and being overweight is an imbalance in the amount of calories consumed and calories burned. Diets today are high in fat and contribute to the increase in obesity rates. Reduced physical activity and more sedentary lifestyles have also contributed to the rise.

Consequences of being overweight

High BMI is a major risk factor for a number of non-communicable diseases. Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death and its incidence is significantly increased in those who are obese and overweight. Cardiovascular disease is the cause of heart attacks, stroke and blood clots. People who are overweight or obese have increased pressure on their body’s ability to use insulin and control blood sugar levels. Subsequently, almost 90% of people living with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese. Cancers such as endometrial, breast, ovarian, prostate, liver, gallbladder, kidney and colon are more prevalent in people who are overweight or obese.

Make a plan to lose weight

Obesity is preventable and reversible. By avoiding obesity, you can protect yourself from the related diseases mentioned previously. Eating healthier foods and doing regular physical activity is the most practical way to lose weight:

  • Eat more vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes and nuts
  • Reduce intake of fat and sugar by limiting fatty and sugary foods, such as processed foods, cakes, cookies, and even savory ready-made foods which contain a lot of sugar and trans fats
  • Engage in 150 minutes of exercise per week split up into a minimum of 30 minutes five days per week (recommended by the World Health Organization)

People who struggle to lose weight despite following the above suggestions, may turn to the hospital for help. There are two medications that are approved for use in the UAE for the management of obesity. The first is called orlistat which is taken orally before each meal and works by reducing the absorption of ingested fat. The second is liraglutide which is injected daily under the skin and it works by reducing appetite.

Bariatric surgery is also an option for some patients and it works by restricting the amount of food the stomach can hold or causing the malabsorption of nutrients. Bariatric surgery induces weight loss of between 40% and 80% depending on the procedure. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Digestive Disease Institute offers bariatric surgery to suitable patients who have previously tried to lose weight but failed. After bariatric surgery another procedure known as body contouring helps to restore a svelte shape and removes unwanted skin post-surgery.

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