Obesity – A disease

Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have a negative effect on health. People are generally considered obese when their body mass index (BMI), is over 30 kg/m2, with the range 25–30 kg/m2. Obesity increases the likelihood of various diseases and conditions, particularly cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, certain types of cancer, osteoarthritis and depression.

When it comes to obesity in children, the healthy BMI range varies with the age and sex of the child. Obesity in children and adolescents is defined as a BMI greater than the 95th percentile. Childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions in 21st century with rising rates in both the developed and developing world.

As with obesity in adults many different factors contribute to the rising rates of childhood obesity. Changing diet and decreasing physical activity are believed to be the two most important in causing the recent increase in the rate of obesity. Activities from self-propelled transport, to school physical education, and organized sports has been declining in many countries.

Because childhood obesity often persists into adulthood, and is associated with numerous chronic illnesses, it is important that children who are obese be tested for hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, and fatty liver.

Treatments used in children are primarily lifestyle interventions and behavioral techniques. At later stages, obesity also increases the risk of developing a number of serious health conditions, including:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Sleep apnea
  • Gallstones
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Infertility or irregular periods


Whether or not obesity should be considered a “disease” (or an abnormal state) is a matter of debate. In 2013, the American Medical Association, the nation’s largest group of physicians, voted to recognize obesity as a disease.

According to the CDC (Centre for disease control and prevention) some actions that may help with weight loss include –

  • Keeping a daily food diary, which can make people more aware of what they eat and identify potentially unhealthy eating habits.
  • Making small changes to your eating habits such as eating more slowly, putting your fork down between bites and drinking more water, which can reduce the number of calories people consume.
  • Identifying ways to incorporate healthy habits into your daily routine, such as taking a walk at lunchtime.
  • Setting specific but realistic goals, such as having a salad with dinner and walking for 15 minutes in the evening.

For people who are still severely obese after attempting to lose weight through diet and exercise, other treatments, such as bariatric surgery, may be an option. Bariatric surgery is recommended for people with a BMI of 40 or more, or if they have a serious health problem related to their obesity and have a BMI of 35 or more.

People with a BMI of 30 or more are eligible for an adjustable gastric band (one type of bariatric surgery) if they also have at least one health problem linked with obesity.

Other treatment options for obesity include certain prescription and over-the-counter medications that curb appetite, such as orlistat and lorcaserin, but the drugs can cause side effects, such as cramping, diarrhea, headaches, dizziness and nausea.

Weight loss medication should be used along with diet and exercise to help people lose weight, and some weight loss medications are only intended for short-term use.

Bariatric surgery is the final option for permanent wight loss management. There are many varieties of laparoscopic procedures are available with different ways of their mechanism of action. It’s a wise decision to meet a bariatric surgeon for the in detailed discussion about the pros and cons of each and all bariatric procedures at your local place.


Dr.T.Varun Raju, Chief Laparoscopic Surgeon, OMNI Hospitals



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