WHAT IS OBESITY
Obesity has been emerging as a health crisis throughout the developed world for decades but it has only really become associated with an ‘epidemic’ this century. According to the “Centres for Disease Control and Prevention”, it is a disease that is spreading with frightening speed over many countries and demographics.
Obesity in Australia has more than doubled in the last two decades. Presently, as of 2017, just under two-thirds of the Australian adult population is classified as obese. This figure continues to rise in children and adolescents too.
Obesity has even taken over smoking as the leading cause of premature death and chronic illness in Australia and is now recognised as the single biggest threat to public health.
What is obesity? It is more than just being labeled ‘fat’; Obesity is an excess of total body fat, resulting from caloric intake (basically eating food) that exceeds energy usage. In other words, if you consume more energy than you use (through things like exercise) the body stores that excess energy as fat.
A measurement used to assess the health risks of obesity is Body Mass Index (BMI).
CAUSES OF OBESITY
Obesity can be caused by a combination of the following genetic and lifestyle factors
- Genes inherited from parents
- How well the body turns food into energy
- Eating and exercise habits
- Psychological factors
CONSEQUENCES OF BEING OBESE
It is widely recognised by professionals in the medical industry who specialise in treating obesity that once a patient exceeds a certain weight, the likelihood of illness and complications to their health dramatically increases. Diabetes, sleep apnoea, asthma, hypertension, arthritis, varicose veins, and skin problems are all common bi-products of obesity.
The chances of dying at a premature age are also greatly increased as a person becomes increasingly more obese. Factors that impact on their mental well-being and self-confidence, such as their employment prospects, mobility, and social acceptance also suffers.
Depression is much more common in the morbidly obese.
People who are obese, severely obese, or morbidly obese have a shorter life expectancy and are more susceptible to a range of major health risks, negative psychological and social factors and difficulties with day-to-day living.
GREATER GENERAL HEALTH RISKS
- Premature death (50% – 100% increased risk)
- Diabetes (type 2)
- Joint problems (e.g. arthritis)
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Gallbladder problems
- Certain types of cancer (e.g. breast, uterine, colon, endometrium, prostate)
- Digestive disorders (e.g. gastroesophageal reflux disease, GORD)
- Breathing difficulties (e.g. sleep apnea, asthma)
- Problems with fertility and pregnancy
- Urinary incontinence
PSYCHOLOGICAL SOCIAL WELL-BEING + SOCIAL ACCEPTANCE
- Negative self-image
- Greater risk of mental problems (e.g. depression)
- Social isolation
- Employment prospects suffer
GENERAL DAY-TO-DAY LIVING
- Normal tasks become harder as movement is more difficult
- Shortness of breath and tiring more quickly
- Public transport seats, desk chairs and cars seats may be too small
- Difficulty maintaining personal hygiene
BODY MASS INDEX
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measurement of body fat based on a person’s height and weight. This applied to both men and women. Since a BMI calculation does not take into account the differences between body fat and muscle mass,(muscle mass is much denser) those who have a lot of muscle bulk, such as body-builders, will have a high BMI but are not classified as overweight.
Fat predominantly distributed around the waist becomes a risk factor for health complications such as cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes.
Fat predominantly deposited around the hips and buttocks do not have the same risk but carry with them self-confidence issues and low self-esteem. These are the psychological risks of being overweight.
Being underweight can also affect your health as your body might be malnourished due to a lack of sufficient food consumption.
Non-Surgical Treatment – Orbera® weight-loss
The conventional treatments for obesity are diet, exercise and medication. For many, these types of treatments are effective is helping one lose weight and maintain a healthy level of body fat. However for individuals who are morbidly obese, diet and exercise might not be enough. It is also a common trait among the morbidly obese that they simply cannot exercise due to their weight.
If an individual manages to lose some weight through these conventional methods, often it is a challenge for them to keep the weight off.
This can translate into what’s called the “yo-yo syndrome,” where patients continually gain and lose weight with the possibility of serious psychological and health consequences.
Several studies have shown that patients who are obese and opt for the diet, and exercise approach (or medication) are successful at losing approximately 10% of their body weight. However they tend to regain about 65% of it within one year, and almost 100% of it back within five years **.
Studies have also shown that less than 5% of obese individuals who opt for conventional weight-loss programs are able to maintain their reduced weight after five years*.
Surgical Treatment – Lap-Band System
Thanks to increasing medical and technological advancements, weight loss surgery is now commonplace and there are many options available for those who suffer from obesity.
Gastrointestinal surgery for obesity, also called bariatric surgery, changes the normal digestive process. These operations help to promote weight loss by decreasing absorption of nutrients and thereby reducing the calorie intake within the body. When this is combined with “normal” energy expenditure (from a person’s day-to-day life) quite often the energy “out” is greater than the energy “in” and the patient will lose and or maintain their new healthy weight.
Surgical treatment is highly effective for permanent weight loss, reducing not only weight but also reducing the effects of health conditions associated with obesity.
Along the way most people find an improvement in their mobility, body image, self-esteem and enjoyment of life since they feel better, look better, have more energy and generally feel much better within themselves.