Overview: Obesity

Obesity is a term used to describe people who are seriously overweight and are carrying a lot of body fat. It is a serious condition that affects both children and adults in the UK.

It is believed obesity affects an estimated one in four adults and one in five children aged 10 to 11.

What is obesity?

The term “obese” literally means to be grossly fat or overweight and is used to describe people that fit this classification. There are many ways to measure and classify a person based on their weight. The most common measurement uses weight to height ratio for classification and is known as the Body Mass Index (BMI)

Typical BMI scores for adults and their meaning:

  • 18.5 to 24.9 – Healthy weight
  • 25 to 29.9 – Overweight
  • 30 to 39.0 – Obese
  • 40+ – Severely obese

One of the criticisms of this measurement technique is it doesn’t take into consideration the muscularity of the person being measured. As muscle is much denser than fat it weighs more. So, a muscular person may score high on the BMI and be classified incorrectly. Having said that, this shouldn’t be a significant issue for the average person.

Another factory that may be considered when trying to classify obesity is waste size. Men with waste size greater than 37in and women with wastes greater than 31.5in are at high risk of developing health problems associated with obesity.

Risks of Obesity

Apart from the physical changes and discomforts associated with obesity, it can lead to a number of serious, life threatening health issues. These conditions include:

  • type 2 diabetes
  • coronary heart disease
  • some types of cancer, such as breast cancer and bowel cancer
  • stroke

People who are seriously over weight, obese, will experience a poorer quality of life due to the restrictions and limitation brought about because of their size. This can lead to psychological problems like depression, low self-esteem and low confidence.

What causes obesity?

The simple equation for putting on weight is consuming more calories than you burn. If you have a high fat, high sugar diet, you’re probably consuming far more calories than you need. At the same time, if the amount of exercise you do to burn off energy isn’t equal to or great than what has been consumed, the body will start storing it as fat.

Do this for long enough and the body will continue to store and pile on excess fat, inevitably lead to obesity.

Today there are far more overweight and obese people than ever before. This is a serious problem some people believe is a result of modern day lifestyles that involve excessively eating poor quality, cheap food, because its convenience to do so. This leads to an increase in calorie intake, and, when combined with little mobility and exercise, it is clear to see why the problem is so widespread.

If excessive eating and lack of exercise isn’t the issue, there may be a greater underlying health condition that is causing the problem. Underactive thyroids are one such condition that could be causing it, but if controlled properly with the use of medication there should be no weight problems.

If unsure, speak to your doctor and get an assessment to determine the cause of your weight gain. If it is due to a health condition they may be able to help control the issue before it develops into something more serious.

How to treat obesity?

For the average person, the best way to treat obesity is to introduce a change in lifestyle. By eating healthy, reducing calorie intake and exercising regularly you will begin to notice improvements in not time.

You may want to try to: 

  • Eat a more balanced, weight controlled diet
  • Attend a weight loss group for additional support
  • Become more active and do sports like swimming, walking, running, gym
  • Eat slowly to prevent overeating

It’s not going to be easy to suddenly change your life long habits, but if the willpower and determination is there, getting some psychological support from a healthcare provider can help implement these changes to achieve a more balanced and healthy lifestyle.

If the lifestyle change still isn’t helping, speak to your doctor. They can assess your situation to identify the cause of the problem and provide treatment accordingly.

Side effect of obesity

Apart from the obvious difficulties of being obese or seriously overweight, there are many other health problems that can be attributed to the condition.

Other problems associated with obesity include:

  • Breathlessness
  • Increase in sweat
  • Snoring
  • Limited mobility
  • Tiredness
  • Join and back pain
  • Feeling lonely
  • Low confidence and self-esteem
  • Depression

Health conditions related to obesity

Obesity can lead to developing some potentially high-risk health conditions. These conditions include:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Asthma
  • One of many types of cancer – e.g. bowl, breast, womb
  • Gallstones
  • Osteoarthritis – a condition that causes pain and stiffness in joints
  • Sleep apnoea – a condition that causes breathing problems during sleep
  • Liver and kidney disease
  • Pregnancy complication in women

Statistics from the NHS suggests that obesity reduces life expectancy by three to ten years and kills one in 13 people in Europe.

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Surgical treatments for obesity

Weight loss surgery

If you’ve tried dieting and exercise and it hasn’t worked for you an alternative option would be to undergo a surgical weight loss procedure to get rid of excess body fat.

Depending on what is required from the procedure there are different types of weight loss surgery available to you, these include:

Gastric band

A band is place around the top of the stomach to create a small pouch. This will limit the amount of food you need to eat to feel full.

Gastric bypass

Gastric bypass surgery works by changing the way your stomach and intestines process food.

– Sleeve gastrectomy

A sleeve gastrectomy is a procedure where roughly 80% of the stomach is removed by cutting along the length of the stomach.

– Intra-gastric balloon

A soft balloon filled with air or salt water is placed in the stomach to limit the amount of food you can consume before feeling full.

– Biliopancreatic diversion

Like a gastric bypass, biliopancreatic diversion changes the way food is processed by making the stomach smaller and allowing food to bypass parts of the intestine.

After weight loss cosmetic surgeries

Arm and thigh lift

Arm and thigh lift surgery is a cosmetic procedure carried out to remove excess skin and tissue from the under arms and the top part of the leg, resulting in a more tight and firm appearance.

Tummy tuck

A tummy tuck is a cosmetic procedure performed to reshape the tummy area. The procedure involves the removal of excess fat and skin, and the tightening of the muscles, to leave patients with a more aesthetically pleasing and well-defined abdomen.

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Medical Tourism

Travelling abroad for medical treatments can bring with it many advantages. Some of the biggest worries many people have when seeking treatment is the time it takes to have the treatment and how much it will cost. The flexibly of travelling to access good quality treatment means treatments can often be carried out when it suits the patient, and the patient can save money. Having said that, cost should be a part of the consideration, but not the only consideration when choosing a care provider.

As a medical travel facilitator we currently work with highly experienced care providers in Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Turkey.

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