H O R M O N E

Obesity – a result of our unhealthy lifestyle

Who doesn’t love food? The sugary donuts, creamy cakes, chocolates, cheese-filled pizzas and burgers – it is hard to say no to these delicious foods. There is nothing wrong in enjoying these foods occasionally. But we forget to track what we eat and let our taste buds make our food choices. This results in piling up of the extra pounds around our waists, thereby leading to obesity.

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However, sometimeswe may gain weightdue to other reasons such asreduced levels of thyroidhormone that can slow down our metabolism resulting in weight gain. Additionally, when we are under stress our body produces cortisolthat increases our appetite and motivates us to eat more sugary and fatty foods.

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Obesity is a medical word used for a condition in which more fat is accumulatedin our body that may haveadverse effects on our health. Both children and adults are equally affected by obesity.

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What is the impact of obesity on my body and health?

Obesity is linked to an array of health conditionsthatmay lead to disability and early death.Itincreases your risk ofacquiring type 2 diabetes by ten times. Obesity also leads to decrease in lung capacity, thereby increasing the risk of respiratory infections. Also, other conditions like asthmaand sleep apnea tend to occur in obese individuals.

Obesity is linked to many types of cancerssuch as endometrial, ovarian, cervical, pancreatic, prostrate, kidney, etc. As your BMI increases, your risk of cancer or death from cancer increases.

The heart needs to pump the blood with a higher pressure, so that the blood reaches all the parts of the body. This strains your circulatory system and increases your risk for stroke that results in death of brain cells.

Obesity also contributes to a number of bone disorders such as osteoarthritis and spine problems. It is also a major cause for fatty liver disease known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Majority of people with severe obesity are found with NAFLD.Obesitymay also increase the risk of accidents and injuries. The risk of septicemia (a serious infection that quicklyleads to septic shock and death)is also found to be associated with severe obesity.

Besides the physical effects, obesity may also affect the mental health and cause depression, social isolation and discrimination, thus decreasing the overall quality of life.

What are the treatment options of obesity?

The primary treatment for obesity includes healthy diet and increasing physical activity. Taking partin weight-loss programs may help you lose weight and alsomaintain it. Other treatments such as weight-loss medications, weight loss devices or surgical interventions are available for people who find it difficult to lose weight or unable to refrain from gaining weight.

However, it is important to understand that surgical interventions are only a tool to achieve weight-loss and it is your ‘will’ to stay committed to a life-long change in your diet and exercise habits helps in permanent weight loss.

How can obesity be prevented?

Obesity can be prevented by eating a healthy diet, avoidingstress and unhealthy food, performingyoga and regular exercise. Additionally, you must check yourself with a doctor, if you gain weight even after following a healthy diet and exercise, as this can be due to other underlying medical conditions such as hypothyroidism or polycystic ovarian syndrome.

How is obesity related to thyroid disorders?

Hypothyroidism is a condition where your thyroid gland, a butterfly shaped gland located in your neck produces less thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormone is involved in regulation of metabolism. And, so an underactive thyroid slows down your metabolism and leads to weight gain.

Hypothyroidism and obesity are common conditions that are interlinked. Studies demonstrate that even mild thyroid dysfunction may significantly affect your body weight and increase your risk ofobesity.

How is long-term stress associated with obesity?

Studies show a strong association between persistent stress and obesity. Stress is linked to comfort-eating, making people to choose foods high in sugars or fats which make them feel better.The exact cause for the person’s behavioral change towards eating is explained further.

When a person is stressed, the adrenal glands present on the kidneys produce a hormone known as cortisol. This hormone involves in increasing appetite and motivates the person to eat. Once the person is out of the stressful episode, the cortisol levels should fall to normal levels. However, during long-term stress the cortisol levels stay elevated.Thisinturn increases the person’s craving for sugary and fatty foods and leads to increased portion size contributing to increased weight gain and obesity.Anxiety and depression are also associated with high cortisol levels.

Does obesity decrease my chances of getting pregnant?

Yes, obesity can make it hard for you to conceive. The extra fat may cause hormonal changes in your body that may lead to irregular menstrual cycles. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one of the common hormonal complications that lead to infertility.During PCOS, male hormones such as androgens are produced in your body leading to irregular menstrual cycles. This in turn makes it difficult to get pregnant. Obesity may also lead to amenorrhea, a condition in which the process of ovulation does not occur,resulting in absence of menstruation. This makes it even difficult to get pregnant.

What is Body mass index?

Body mass index is the estimated measure of body fat based on an individual’s height and weight. BMI is calculated by dividing body’s weight in kilogram by the square of height in meters. BMI is interpreted as follows:

>18.5 Underweight

18.5 – 24.9 Normal or Healthy Weight

25.0 – 29.9 Overweight

>30.0 Obese

What is Broca’s index?

Broca’s index gives us an estimate about our normal and ideal body weight by measuring just the height. This formula was developed by Pierre Paul Broca (a French army doctor) in 1871. According to the Broca’s formula, the normal body weight is:

  1. Normal body weight(kg)=Height(in cm)- 100

Ideal body weight

  1. Men: Ideal Body Weight (kg) = [Height (cm) - 100] - ([Height (cm) - 100] x 10%)

  2. Women: Ideal Body Weight (kg) = [Height (cm) - 100] + ([Height (cm) - 100] x 15%)

However, these formulae are now considered outdated and only the BMI is used.

What is the Waist: Hip ratio?

The waist: hip ratio(WHR) is another measure to determine whether you are overweight or obese. This ratio is calculated by dividing waist circumference to the hip circumference.

What is the concept of calorie counting?

Many studies have shown that in order to lose weight, the energy obtained from the food we eat should be lesser than the amount of energy that we spend per day. This energy balance is measured in terms of calories.