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Obesity; Root Cause Of Many Diseases.

Obesity is a medical condition in which excess of fat has accumulated in the body and may give rise to health problems.A person is obese when his body mass index is above 30 kg/m2.Body mass index is ratio of an individual’s weight and height, and can be calculated by dividing person’s weight with square of his height.

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The most commonly used measure of weight status is body mass index, or BMI. Years of research have shown that BMI provides good estimate of “fatness” and correlates well with important health outcomes. For adult men and women healthy BMI falls between 18 to 25 kg/m2 .

Overweight is defined as a BMI between 25 and 30; and obesity a BMI of 30 or higher. So it is important tool for clinicians trying to screen to determine who may be at risk because of carrying around too much weight for their height. More or less every region of world is facing this problem. Once a problem of wealthy nations, obesity now impacts countries at all economic levels, bringing with it a wave of ill health and lost productivity. Worldwide rate of obesity doubled since 1980, with just over 200 million adult men and just under 300 million adult women obese.

Of all high-income countries, the United States has the highest rate of overweight and obesity, with fully a third of population obese, a rate projected to rise around 50 percent by 2030. Obesity is also on the rise in South Asian countries including Pakistan. According to Forbes, Pakistan is ranked 165 (out of 194 countries), with 22. 2% of individuals crossing the threshold of obesity. In Pakistan the highest concentration of the obese lies in the big cities as compared to the rural countryside. At the other times in history obesity was considered as sign of wealth and prosperity, as mankind suffered scarcity of food in the past.

But now obesity has been declared as a disease by American Medical Association. Whether or not it is considered a disease, it is also an important risk factor for many chronic diseases. Obesity is associated with many chronic heart diseases such as angina, myocardial infarction (heart attack), high blood pressure, deep vein thrombosis and more. A 2002 study concluded that 21% of ischemic heart disease is due to obesity, while a 2008 European consensus puts the number at 35%. Obesity has been cited as the main cause of high blood pressure.

The risk of hypertension (high blood pressure) is five times higher in the obese as compared to those of normal weight. A definitive link between obesity and hypertension has been found using animal and clinical studies, which have suggested that there are multiple mechanisms for obesity induced hypertension. People who are overweight are at much greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus than normal weight individuals . Being overweight puts extra pressure on body’s ability to control blood glucose using insulin and therefore makes it much more likely for you to develop diabetes.

Almost 90% of people with type 2 diabetes mellitus are overweight. Many respiratory system diseases may be outcome of obesity such as asthma, obstructive sleep apnea etc. Obesity may be associated with variety of reproductive system diseases for example polycystic ovarian syndrome, infertility, birth defects, intra-uterine fetal death etc. Gastrointestinal diseases such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, gall stone, fatty liver are predominant in the overweight. Many types of cancers occur with increased frequency in those who are overweight or obese.

A study from United Kingdom showed that 5% of cancer is due to excess weight. Certain neurological conditions are also attributed to increased body weight. Apart from associated morbidity and mortality, obesity has many social and economic implications as well. The obese are often subject of ridicule as a result they suffer from depression and lose self-confidence. Obesity reduces man-power thus incurs economic loss. A combination of excessive food energy intake, lack of exercise is thought to cause most cases of obesity.

A limited number of cases are primarily due to genetics, medical reasons and psychiatric illnesses. In contrast, increasing rates of obesity at societal level are felt to be due to easily accessible and palatable diet, increased reliance on cars and mechanized manufacturing. Food energy is calculated in terms of calories, excess of calories when taken are stored in body in the form of fat. Thus energy dense foods increase body fat by supplying extra of calories and ultimately lead to obesity.

Sweetened beverages and fast food meals provide more calories than required and are most important contributing factors for obesity in United States and European countries. Lack of regular physical exercise plays significant role in obesity. Worldwide there has been shift to less physically demanding work, significant portion of world’s population doesn’t get sufficient exercise. This is mainly due to invention of machines that save much of the hard work in every field. Obesity may be result of many genetic and environmental factors, as it tends persist in certain families due to inheritance of defective genes.

Experts have related increased body weight in children with their time spent on watching television; more they spent their time watching television more they are prone to obesity. Obesity is sometimes clinical feature of some diseases for example Cohen syndrome, Prader Willi syndrome etc. Proper diet and physical exercise has been mainstay of long term management of the obesity. Fiber diet such as wheat, corn and certain vegetables help maintain healthy weight. Regular physical exercise burns extra calories, thus prevents excessive deposition of fat in the body tissues.

Certain drugs and surgical procedures are also known to treat obesity, but are less preferred. It is clear that obesity is root cause of many diseases such as angina, myocardial infarction, hypertension, diabetes mellitus and many more. Once it was prevalent in affluent nations, now it is problem of all nations of the world. Obesity results from high energy foods such as sweetened beverages, fast food meals. It may also result from sedentary life style and other genetic and environmental factors. Obesity can be managed by taking proper diet and regular physical exercise.

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