Obesity is one of the most common health issues that many people around the globe struggle with.
Although many associate obesity with physical appearance and seek to tackle the issue to look a certain type of way, it can lead to many health complications that can affect the individual's quality of life over time.
Obesity is not only common in adults but also in children, and according to the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP), during the National Health Survey conducted from 2017 to 2018, found that 27.8% of adults in the UAE have obesity.
The survey also showed that 17.35% of children aged between 5 years to 17 years old have obesity.
According to Dr Sreela Nair, Clinical Dietitian at Mediclinic City Hospital, "Obesity is basically a complex disease involving an excessive amount of body fat and is defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health."
Every year, World Obesity Day is held on 4 March to increase awareness of the health issue, advise individuals to get checkups, and either take preventive measures or seek treatment.
The main way for individuals to find out if they are obese is through the body mass index, which is done by dividing the weight of an individual by their height.
Dr Fariha Anwar, General Practitioner and Aesthetic Doctor at Dubai Cosmetic Surgery said, "A body mass index over 25 is considered overweight, but over 30 is classed as obese."
Dr Sreela Nair of Mediclinic City Hospital added that there are three classes of obesity,
"Class I obesity, which is a BMI of 30 to 35 kilograms per square metre
Class II obesity, which is a BMI of 35 to 40 kilograms per square metre
Class III obesity or morbid obesity, which is a BMI of over 40 kilograms per square metre"
With obesity, the effects may not be seen immediately. However, overtime can lead to a series of health conditions that affect the body and get progressively worse.
The common issues, as mentioned by Dr Fariha Anwar of Dubai Cosmetic Surgery are,
- High blood pressure
- High LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol or high level of triglycerides
- Type 2 diabetes
- Coronary heart disease
- Gallbladder disease
- Sleep apnea and breathing problems
- Different forms of cancer
- Mental illness, including clinical depression, anxiety and other mental disorders
- Body pain and difficulty with physical functioning
Individuals that are on the borderline of obesity, where they are neither a healthy weight nor are on the verge of being obese, should seek medical help and make lifestyle changes to their routine.
As most people live sedentary lifestyles, these few changes can help lead a more fuller and productive lifestyle.
Mindful eating: One of the key ways to prevent obesity is through mindful eating. With it, people are able to monitor their intake and not overconsume more than the required food. Dr Sreela Nair of Mediclinic City Hospital mentioned, "Choosing healthier foods and beverages, including a healthy plate method and portion control. Mindful eating is the motto." With the help of the healthy plate method, which consists of half of the plate served with vegetables, a quarter with protein and the remaining with food with carbohydrates in it, as well as using smaller plate sizes, individuals will be able to eat what is required rather than overindulging.
Change in diet: As we live such a fast-paced life, it can get extremely tedious to maintain a fixed meal plan and can end up leading to consuming quick and easy-to-make dishes as well as loads of junk food. Dr Fariha Anwar of Dubai Cosmetic Surgery said, "Eat a well balanced diet and limit unhealthy foods, refined grains and sweets, potatoes, red meat, processed meat, and beverages." Although it can be difficult to cut out unhealthy food all at once, slowly eliminating the products at a stretch can help in overall health in the long run.
Quality of sleep: The body requires around 6 to 8 hours of sleep daily to recover from the activity done throughout the day. Without restful sleep, people tend to feel drained and exhausted throughout the day, and the hours lost cannot be recovered. Dr Fariha Anwar of Dubai Cosmetic Surgery said, "Improve your sleep routine and reduce any stress." Dr Sreela Nair of Mediclinic City Hospital added, "Less sleep starts affecting the hunger hormone leading to overeating and constant hunger."
Regular exercise: Exercise is an important part that should be incorporated into everyone's daily life. People starting out can begin with a thirty-minute workout and work their way up to a longer session. As the idea of working out can seem daunting to many, find a sport or an activity, including cycling or dancing, that keeps the person interested and ask a friend or family member to do it alongside to stay accountable. Dr Sreela Nair of Mediclinic City Hospital said, "An active lifestyle will help you maintain your weight." Additionally, stress can cause a lot of health ailments, including putting on more weight. Instead, when feeling overwhelmed, opt to do activities that calm the mind, including art, cycling and more.
As there are different classes for obesity, individuals that are in Class III of obesity will require medical supervision to get back on track with their health.
Drastic weight loss is never advised and should be done with the right guidance and support.
Dr Fariha Anwar of Dubai Cosmetic Surgery said, "It is important to find a compassionate doctor with expertise in treating extreme obesity so that together you can work long-term to get back on track both weight and health-wise. If you are extremely obese, do not start a vigorous workout program until you have lost about 10% of your body weight, and this must be under medical supervision. As with overweight people, the doctor may also recommend you seek the support of other medical professionals, including a dietician or nutritionist and a psychologist, as lifestyle changes such as diet alterations are an important component of treatment."
Additionally, individuals that are obese and are looking for quicker alternatives to weight loss, on consulting their doctors, can opt for surgery, although it is generally not recommended.
Dr Sreela Nair of Mediclinic City Hospital said, "If you come under the category of Class III Obesity, Endoscopic procedures or bariatric surgery may be an option for you which is a severe but highly effective solution to long-term, significant weight loss. It works by changing your body biology instead of just your mind or your habits, and they alter your digestive system, which leads to restriction in the calories consumed and absorbed. They also change hormonal factors in your digestive system that affect your metabolism and hunger. Your bariatric surgeon would help you understand the different types of surgery and its implications and help you with a suitable type of surgery."
Obesity is a serious health risk and affects a large part of the population.
With many living a sedentary lifestyle and not getting enough activity, by switching up their routine and making these changes can help reduce the health issues associated with obesity.