Obesity: The root cause for other diseases

Obesity is defined on the basis of Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI is classified into Normal (18.5 -24.9 kg/m2), Overweight (25.0-29.9 kg/m2), Class I Obesity (30.0-34.9 kg/m2), Class II Obesity (35.0-39.9 kg/m2), Class III or Morbid obesity (40.0-49.9 kg/m2) and Super morbid obesity (>50.0 kg/m2).

Obese people may be suffering from wide range of co-morbidities, together known as Metabolic Syndrome. Almost all the systems of the body are affected due to fat deposition and underlying inflammatory response in obese people.

Obese people develop early onset Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (Also called “Diabesity” = Diabetes + Obesity), requiring oral hypoglycaemic agents, slowly progressing to insulin requirement in injectable form. Diabetes is a slow killer affecting all the organs of the body like kidney, retina, peripheral nerves or skin, and increasing the risk of infections.

Another disease of concern in obese patients is Cardiac Disorders, Hypertension and Dyslipidaemia. Obese people are at risk of developing acute coronary syndrome, cardiomyopathies and heart failure. Cardiac management may require lifelong medicine support like anti-hypertensives, blood thinners and anti-lipid drugs or may require interventions like cardiac stenting or bypass surgery.

Many of the obese people are suffering from Sleep Disorders, Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnoea. This causes increased day time sleepiness, lack of concentration and nocturnal sweating. Obstructive sleep apnoea adversely affects cardiac and respiratory systems of the body.

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is a common finding affecting 80-100% of obese people. NAFLD progresses gradually over time to Non-Alcoholic Steato-Hepatitis (NASH), further complicating to Liver Cirrhosis in 5-10 years of time. Liver cirrhosis is a stage where permanent liver damage occurs, requiring liver transplant as the only treatment.

Increased weight lead to many orthopaedic problems like Osteoarthritis Knee, Prolapsed Inter-vertebral Disc or Inflammatory Arthritis. Obesity is associated with hormonal changes in the body which commonly leads to Infertility, Polycystic Ovarian  Disease (PCOD) and Menstrual problems in females, and Infertility and Sexual problems in males.

Obesity itself is a disease, which leads to many other comorbidities. Inspite of treating each comorbidity of its own and bearing hefty physical, mental and financial constrain, efforts should be taken to treat obesity as the primary disease.

Prevention is better than cure. Active lifestyle, health eating habits and routinely exercise could prevent one from being obese. Morbidly obese people may require Bariatric surgery which provides safe, effective and permanent weight loss, and helps attain healthier, confident and active lifestyle.

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