Obesity is one of the biggest public health challenges today, affecting 800 million people around the world with millions more at risk. A life-altering disease, it increases the risk of comorbidities and doubles the risk of Covid-19 hospitalisation.
World Obesity Day is celebrated every year on March 4, and this year’s theme is ‘Everybody Needs to Act’. It should be noted that people living with obesity lack support and often face stigma at work and at home. As such, it needs to be addressed and measures need to be taken at local, regional and national levels.
According to Dr Kona Lakshmi Kumari, consultant surgical gastroenterologist, minimal access GI surgeon, metabolic and bariatric surgeon at Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad, there are multiple factors that continue to “fuel dramatic changes in living environments, diets and lifestyles in ways that promote positive energy balance and weight gain”.
“More than 135 million individuals are affected by obesity in India. Prevalence of obesity is varying from rural to urban and state wise,” she says.
The consequences of being overweight
Dr Kumari explains that obesity increases the risk of many diseases and health conditions like coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancers, hypertension, stroke, liver and gallbladder disease, sleep apnea and respiratory problems, osteoarthritis, gynaecological problems, etc.
“These conditions can cause or contribute to premature death or debilitating the quality of life. An ideal way to lose weight is through balanced, healthy diet and exercise, but for those who are extremely obese and are unable to lose weight, they can choose bariatric surgery, says the doctor, adding that apart from weight loss, bariatric surgery can lead to improvement in metabolic syndrome.
“Type 2 diabetes improves by 80 per cent, hypertension goes down by 70 per cent and cholesterol levels normalise. Females, once they lose weight, their fertility improves. There are also other significant improvements in associated comorbidities. For morbidly-obese, bariatric surgery is the safest.”
According to the doctor, bariatric surgery has evolved over time with advanced technologies, trained surgeons and excellent anesthesia and supportive services; the outcome is good with less than 1 per cent surgical risks.
“The patient immediately recovers after the surgery. There should be a good nutrition team, physiotherapist and nursing team, too, to take care in the post-op period and follow up with regular obesity support group activities,” the doctor concludes.