Obesity

1 What is Obesity?

A complex disorder, obesity involves having excessive body fat that can eventually cause other health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Obesity brings you at high risk of getting weight-related issues. The health issues, however, can improve even with a modest weight loss.

Several ways to lose weight are available, including changes in diet, increased physical activity, as well as changes in behavior. In addition, there are prescription weight-loss drugs and surgeries that can be done to treat obesity.

Obesity

2 Symptoms

A BMI or body mass index of 30 or higher is the main symptom of obesity. You can get your BMI by dividing your weight and height.

Here are the standard Body Mass Index status:

18.4 and below – Underweight

18.5 – 24.9         - Normal

25.0-29.9            - Overweight

30.0- 34.9           - Class I Obese

35.0- 39.9           - Class II Obese

40.0 and above  - Class III Obese

For most people, BMI is the indication of fat measurement, but for some with more muscles than fat, BMI could be that of an obese person even if they are basically lean. Clarify this thing with your doctor.

If your BMI states that you are obese and you clearly aren’t muscular, see your doctor immediately.

Early diagnosis can help prevent further complications from manifesting. Your doctor can help evaluate your risks and suggest steps to help you lose weight.

3 Making a Diagnosis

The first step to diagnosis of obesity is to open up with your doctor or health care provider. Opening up about your weight concerns can help the doctor to better analyze your case.

Your doctor may refer you to a specialist in obesity cases, if there’s one near you. Your doctor may also advise you to see a nutritionist or dietitian, or a behavioral counselor, if he thinks your obesity is caused by a behavioral problem.

When seeing your doctor, make sure to participate during the checkup. Answer his or her questions honestly and openly. Also, it will help to write down everything you may want to ask the doctor. Writing down your other medical conditions, and any medications, supplements, or vitamins will also keep you from forgetting vital information. 

Your doctor will make a record of your height and weight to help determine your Body Mass Index or BMI. If you are within the obese range, your doctor may suggest doing some physical exams and tests. These may include:

  • Taking your complete health history. Your doctor may ask about your weight history, eating patterns, exercise habits, along with what health conditions you have, medicine you are taking, and if you have tried any weight-loss programs.
  • General physical examination. Diagnosis will be quicker and more precise if you undergo a general physical examination. This exam involves height and weight measurement, as well as checking vital signs like the heart rate, temperature, and blood pressure. The doctor may also listen to your heart and lungs and check your abdominal area.
  • Calculating your BMI. To determine if you are obese and what level of obesity are you in, the doctor will calculate your BMI. 
  • Measuring your waistline. Measuring the waistline is an important step to determine if you have a higher health risk. Abdominal or visceral fat is the fat stored around the waist. A waist circumference of 35 inches and higher in women and 40 inches and higher in men brings a higher health risk compared to a waist with much smaller circumference.
  • Ruling out other health problems. Your doctor may check if you have other health problems or underlying conditions that can either be the cause or effect of your obesity.
  • Tests. The tests required generally depend on the symptoms and risk factors you have. Blood tests may include liver function tests, a thyroid test, cholesterol test, a fasting glucose, and several others. Moreover, in some cases, the doctor may recommend an electrocardiogram and other heart tests.

4 Treatment

With obesity treatment, the goal is to reach a healthy weight and maintain it. Doing this is no joke and most people find shedding even a little weight to be difficult.

In order for this to work, you may need to coordinate with a group of health professionals who can help you meet the goal. An obesity specialist, as dietitian, and a behavioral coach might be what you need.

Initially, you will need to drop down no more than 5% of your total body weight. Weight loss should be done gradually, as doing it drastically may have a negative impact to your health. Most obesity treatment plans involve:

  • Dietary changes. Changes in diet and eating habits is the primary key to losing weight. Your doctor may suggest to lower your dietary intake and cut the calories you consume per day. Your calorie intake may range from 1,200 to 1,800calories, depending on what you and your doctor have discussed. Moreover, eating right is not all about cutting in calorie intake. You must also ensure that you are only consuming healthy foods that are low in calorie density. Fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean meat are good choices. Your doctor may suggest working with a dietitian to create a meal plan that will work for you.
  • Regular exercise and physical activity. One of the most important part of obesity treatment is having increased physical activity. For overweight or obese people, at least 150 minutes of moderately intense activity must be done every week. Exercising in moderate intensity for 300 minutes or more per week can give a more desirable result.
  • Behavioral counseling. A program that helps modify your behavior and habits can bring a good impact to your weight-loss program. Sometimes, eating too much can be a cause of an underlying behavioral problem. Behavioral modification may involve counseling, therapy, and support programs.
  • Prescription weight loss drugs. The weight-loss medications that are commonly prescribed include lorcaserin (Belviq), orlistat (Xenical),  phentermine and topiramate (Qsymia), liraglutide (Saxenda) and buproprion and naltrexone (Contrave).
  • Surgery to promote weight-loss. Commonly known as bariatric surgery, a weight-loss surgery initially limits the amount of food the body can ingest; thus limiting calorie intake and promoting weight loss. Most of the time, doctors suggest surgery only if the other weight-loss methods do not work. Like any other kinds of surgery, bariatric surgery has its risks and possible complications.

5 Prevention

Preventing obesity is generally avoiding to become overweight.

The steps in preventing unhealthy weight gain are ironically similar to the steps in losing weight.

Watching what you eat and consuming low-calorie but nutrient-packed foods together with regular exercise will keep your weight ideal.

6 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

Dozens, if not hundreds, of alternative medicines for obesity are sold. However, most of them are not approved by the Food and Drugs Administration, like any other supplements and herbal medicine.

Moreover, beware of dietary supplements that claim quick results. It may be true that they can help you lose weight, but they might not be safe or have long-term effectiveness.

Before taking any weight-loss remedies, discuss it first with your doctor to avoid any adverse side effects. 

Mind-body therapies like acupuncture, yoga, and meditation may complement the advised obesity treatment. These therapies, however, have no concrete studies to back up the claim. 

7 Lifestyle and Coping

Lifestyle modifications are necessary in order to cope with obesity.

In addition to your official obesity treatment plan, your effort would become more successful if you follow several strategies. These may include researching about your condition, setting realistic goals, sticking to your plan, and looking for support.

Distracting yourself from any food that may trigger a binge is one of the things that you should learn.

Also, it is important to follow your doctor’s instructions to a T.

Take medications on the right time and do the necessary workout program. Moreover, you have to stay focus yet keep yourself relaxed.

8 Risks and Complications

There are several risks and complications associated with obesity.

Obesity is caused by a number of contributing factors. Your risk of becoming obese generally depend on:

  • habits
  • Genetics
  • Family lifestyle
  • Inactivity
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Medical conditions
  • Certain medications
  • Age
  • Socio-economic issues
  • Pregnancy
  • Quitting smoking

Complications that may come with obesity include:

Apart from health issues, obesity may also affect the quality of life and may cause depression, disability, social isolation; shame and guilt; and lower level of achievement.

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