What is obesity?
Obesity is a chronic disease, which is mainly characterized by the excessive accumulation of body fat. According to information from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), in Brazil, there are more than 20 million individuals who face this condition. In the adult population, approximately 12.5% of men and 16.9% of women are classified as obese, and approximately half of the population is overweight (overweight). Furthermore, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that by 2030, more than half of the world will be obese.
Initially in developed countries, the 20th century brought the so-called nutritional transition, which marked a change in the dietary profile of populations. In this scenario, malnutrition was overcome and obesity emerged as a public health issue with all its consequences and related factors.
Obesity has a significant impact on health, psychological well-being, longevity and quality of life, being considered a worldwide problem because it affects a large number of people and predisposes the body to various diseases and premature death. It considerably expands the possibilities of increasing the mortality rate and worsening quality of life indicators when comparing obese and non-obese people. Numerous studies indicate that cardiovascular, renal, digestive diseases, diabetes mellitus, liver and orthopedic problems are associated with excess body fat, with the occurrence of these diseases being twice as high in obese men and four times higher in obese women compared to non-obese population.
What are the symptoms of obesity?
Below we have the main symptoms of Obesity:
- Shortness of breathe: the lungs suffer from the pressure of the weight of the abdomen;
- Body pains: knees, legs and back are the regions that suffer most when supporting excess weight;
- Lack of physical conditioning: the individual finds it difficult to complete simple exercises, such as climbing stairs or carrying grocery bags;
- Snoring and sleep apnea: breathing is obstructed by fat located in the neck;
- Spots on the body: Insulin resistance can lead to dark spots in areas such as armpits, neck and groin;
- Allergies: Dermatitis can be triggered by skin friction or heat in specific regions;
- Skin infections: Fungi can cause infections in moister areas of the skin, especially in skin folds;
- Menstrual cycle disorder: Hormonal imbalances have the potential to interfere with the menstrual cycle;
- Sexual impotence: poor blood flow makes male erections difficult;
- Varicose veins: Changes in blood circulation result in dilation of the leg veins, known as varicose veins;
- Anxiety and depression: Binge eating behaviors and reduced self-esteem have adverse impacts on an individual’s mental health.
Obesity is always accompanied, the problem is that these companies are not the beneficial ones. This comorbidity has consequences for different aspects of the patient’s health, as excess fat in the body can trigger or worsen many diseases. Below are some examples:
- Arterial hypertension;
- Increased cholesterol and triglycerides;
- Sleep apnea;
- Accumulation of fat in the liver;
- Myocardial infarction;
- In women, obesity also increases the risk of infertility.
What causes obesity?
Obesity is a complex problem with many causes. It is caused when extra calories are stored in the body as fat. If you consume large amounts of energy, particularly found in foods high in fat and sugar, and do not use all of the energy through physical activity, much of the extra energy will be stored in the body as fat.
Below are the main causes of obesity:
Bad eating habits: Processed and industrialized foods tend to contribute to weight gain, as they contain many calories and bad fats in their composition.
- Genetics: People from the same family often live with excess weight, even if they don’t live together.
- Sedentary lifestyle: Lack of physical activity is another important factor related to obesity. Many people have jobs that involve sitting at a desk for most of the day. If you are not active enough and do not use the energy provided by the food you eat, as a result the extra energy you consume is stored by the body as fat.
- Poor sleep quality: Not getting enough sleep can cause hormonal changes that make you feel hungrier and crave certain high-calorie foods.
- Psychological factors: Weight gain can be linked to emotional issues and quality of life such as: low self-esteem, prejudice, depression, anxiety, body dissatisfaction and unhealthy diets.
- Medicines: Some medications, such as medicines used to treat depression, diabetes and corticosteroids (recommended against allergies and inflammation) can lead to weight gain.
- Aging: Age causes a decrease in muscle mass and a slower metabolic rate, which in many cases facilitates weight gain.
Any medical specialty has the ability to evaluate a case of obesity, however, the endocrinologist is the most suitable professional for this evaluation. However, as it is a multifactorial disease, obese patients must be monitored by other specialists, including general practitioners, cardiologists, gynecologists/urologists, nutritionists, psychiatrists, psychologists, among others. For an accurate diagnosis, it is essential to perform clinical and laboratory tests. Procedures such as bioimpedance, measurement of abdominal circumference, analysis of cholesterol, blood glucose, urea, among others, will help the professional to understand the severity of the condition and determine the appropriate treatment approach.
Obesity treatment needs to be long-term. In addition to control, it is necessary to avoid other complications that appear over time and result in a shorter life expectancy.
The WHO divides obesity into three levels:
- Grade I: Patients who have a BMI between 30 and 34.9 kg/m2;
- Grade II: Patients who have a BMI between 35 and 39.9 kg/m2;
- Grade III or morbid obesity: Patients with a BMI above 40 kg/m2.
As obesity is caused by an energy intake that exceeds the body’s expenditure, the simplest form of treatment is the adoption of a healthier lifestyle, with lower calorie intake and increased physical activity. This change not only causes weight loss but also makes it easier to maintain. The use of medications contributes in a modest and temporary way to weight loss and should never be used as the only form of treatment.
Below we have some tips on how to prevent obesity:
- Choose a diet that prioritizes natural foods, such as vegetables, fruits and legumes;
- Maintain a regular exercise routine, opting for walks, climbing stairs instead of using the elevator and, whenever possible, practicing physical activities;
- Incorporate habits that promote mental health, such as practicing yoga, recreational activities, meeting friends, therapies and other approaches;
- Take care of your health through annual medical appointments and routine exams.
The main way to prevent obesity and improve your quality of life is to adopt a healthy lifestyle, mainly due to the physiological, psychological and social changes that occur over the years. These changes affect nutritional status, which in turn is related to health. In this context, a healthy diet and, consequently, maintaining adequate nutritional status are important factors for health and, therefore, for successful aging.
The post Care for Life.