What Is Obesity?
Obesity is a condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it can cause your health to deteriorate and even reduce your life expectancy. The World Health Organization (WHO) has defined obesity as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30kg/m2 and above.
Obesity is rising to epidemic levels in both developed and developing countries. In Singapore, the overall trends for obesity and overweight, for both males and females, have been rising since 1992. the percentage of adult Singaporeans who were obese and overweight were 8.7% and 36.2% respectively in 2017.
What Are The Harmful Effects?
Obesity is one of the world's largest health problems. It is a risk factor for many of the world's leading causes of death (such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes). 8 percent of global deaths in 2017 were the result of obesity. The global annual medical cost of treating obesity is expected to reach US$1.2 trillion by 2025.
There are many medical, physical and psycho-social consequences of obesity.
Medical conditions that are caused or worsened by obesity include:
- Heart disease and strokes
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- High LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high levels of triglycerides (Dyslipidemia)
- Risk of cancer of the uterus, cervix, endometrium, ovary, breast, colon, rectum, esophagus, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, kidney and prostate.
- Gallbladder disease and liver problems
- Acid reflux or heartburn
- Sleep apnoea and snoring
- Osteoarthritis (a breakdown of cartilage and bone within a joint)
- Infertility and irregular periods in women
- Erectile dysfunction in men
Physical limitation due to obesity include:
- Tire easily
- Run out of breath while doing normal daily tasks such as crossing the road
Psycho-social impact that are caused by obesity include:
- Anxiety or other mental illnesses
- Discrimination at home and in the workplace
- Low self-esteem and no self confidence
- Lower work achievement
- Diminish the overall quality of life
- Sexual problems
How Can We Help?
It is known that weight loss has a very powerful effect on the conditions mentioned. Many of these obesity-related disorders can improve or disappear after weight loss. On average people can eliminate 70% of their chronic disease medications after losing weight.
However scientific evidence shown that once an individual has gained weight to obese proportions, it can be extremely difficult to lose that weight. One can start by changing diet and exercise more. If it is not enough, a structured lifestyle intervention program, such as protein shakes and medication, may help to increase the metabolic rate and burn calories.
For some individuals, weight loss (bariatric) surgery is the best long-term solution. Bariatric surgery is an operation that helps one to lose weight by making changes to the digestive system. Some types of bariatric surgeries make the individual's stomach smaller, allowing one to eat and drink less at one time and making one feel full sooner. Studies have found that bariatric surgery dramatically lowers the risk of premature death. It can lower rates of heart attack, heart failure, atrial fibrillation and stroke, and lower death rates. In addition, it could have significant metabolic effects and benefits.
Therefore, bariatric surgery combined with lifestyle changes (including diet and exercise) is the most beneficial and effective treatment of obesity and related medical problems.