A bariatric surgeon guide to understanding obesity

A bariatric surgeon  guide to understanding obesity


What is obesity?

Obesity and overweight are defined as excessive fat accumulation in the body to the extent that it presents a risk to health, explains Dr Aparna Govil Bhasker, bariatric and laparoscopic surgeon, Apollo and Global Hospitals, Mumbai.

Major causes of obesity 

Obesity is a complex disease and has multiple factors. It is not just a derivative of energy intake and output. The causes of obesity are genetic, hormonal, environmental and diet, and lifestyle-related. In the last 30 years, our environment has undergone a drastic change with immense changes in our diet and lifestyle, which has become sedentary. Our genes take much longer to adapt. Traditionally our genetic makeup is tuned to saving energy. Presently our genetic makeup is not able to cope with the excessive energy intake. Dietary factors are also important. Excessive focus on convenience foods has led to high usage of sugar and preservatives. Less intake of protein and high intake of carbohydrate-rich foods is another factor. In recent months, continued lockdown has only increased everyone’s tendency to gain weight.

Which diseases is one prone to due to obesity?

Obesity affects the human body from head to toe. It leads to type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease, joint pains, sleep apnea, gout, liver and kidney diseases etc. In women, it leads to PCOS and infertility and causes many problems during pregnancy. Obesity also leads to certain cancers like breast and endocrine in women and colon and pancreatic in men.

What should be one’s diet to prevent obesity?

Have a balanced diet which is low in carbohydrates and sugar. Starchy foods must be avoided as should foods high in trans fats. Regular exercise also plays a big role in the prevention of obesity.

What kind of exercise to do?

 Here’s an easy guide. (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

At least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week is recommended for adults. However, this may vary as per the clinical condition and physical fitness of every person. For people who are very busy, it is advisable to include physical activity during their routine activities like climbing up steps or walking an extra mile.

Is surgery the only option for obesity?

Bariatric surgery is the only effective treatment option for patients suffering from morbid obesity. When a person weighs 30 to 35 kgs or more above their ideal body weight and other weight loss methods like diets and lifestyle modifications are not effective, bariatric surgery is recommended.

Bariatric operations are of many types- sleeve gastrectomy and gastric bypass surgeries are the most common of these. Gastric bands and duodenal switch are other surgeries along with endoscopic procedures.

When does weight loss happen after surgery?

Weight loss starts immediately after bariatric surgery. Patients lose quite fast in the first six months. It takes about 12 to 18 months for complete weight loss to happen.

Are obese people more at risk of coronavirus?

Yes, it has been seen that patients suffering from obesity get a more severe infection with Covid 19 and the rate of hospitalisation is higher. They also have a higher chance of ICU admission.

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