Obesity: The Greatest Health Challenge of the World Today
Your Waist Line and Life Line
I am sure most of us have heard the saying, “The longer the waist line the shorter the life line.” This statement was affirmed by analysis of data from eleven studies on 600,000 individuals worldwide. It showed that there is a risk of premature death after forty years of age if the waistline was over 37 inches in women, and over 40 inches in men. This was reported in the March 2014 of the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings. The researchers also reported that data showed that for every 2 inches increase in waist circumference there is increase risk of premature death of 7 percent in men and 9 percent in women after forty years of age. This is of significant concern because obesity is now worldwide problem affecting even those in younger age group. We know that this problem when corrected prevents the development of many illnesses that overwhelms our healthcare system as well as a causes disability and early deaths.
According to Centers of Disease a Prevention (CDC} people who are obese, compared to those with a normal or healthy weight, are at increased risk for many serious diseases and health conditions, including the following:
- All-causes of death (mortality)
- High blood pressure (Hypertension)
- High LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high levels of triglycerides (Dyslipidemia)
- Type 2 diabetes
- Coronary heart disease
- Gallbladder disease
- Osteoarthritis (a breakdown of cartilage and bone within a joint)
- Sleep apnea and breathing problems
- Some cancers (endometrial, breast, colon, kidney, gallbladder, and liver)
- Low quality of life
- Mental illness such as clinical depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders8,9
- Body pain and difficulty with physical functioning10
For more information about these and other health problems associated with obesity, visit Health Effects of Obesity. Adipose tissue or fatty tissue produces hormones and pro-wnflamatory factors the result in the health problems mention above.
The United Kingdom now noting the strain of resulting from increase obesity on their health care system
Impaired Metabolic Engine
How many times have you heard folks say with a sense of frustration, “I hardly eat much of anything but I still keep on gaining weight.” Many of us would be skeptical if the individual was really telling the truth, but you may be surprised to know that in many people this claim maybe true.
There are three factors that may lead to obesity first is caloric intake, second is the amount of calories burned and lastly genetics. In simple terms in obesity there is cellular metabolic function is derangement. The mitochondrial the part of the cell that burns sugar and fatty acids turning them to energy, this is the function is impaired in obesity. This is caused by the overload of sugar and fatty acids that overwhelms the energy engine’s capacity and results in build up of fatty acids and sugar in the cells and resulting elevating the levels of sugar and fatty acids in the blood because they could not be burned. The extra sugar and the fatty acids are then stored as fat especially in the belly. Then if this goes on the individual it eventually progresses to insulin resistance because the energy engine is slowed down like tired a horse could not be whipped into action by insulin, a condition we called type 2 diabetes developed due insulin resistance. High blood lipids (fatty acids) called hyperlipidemia predisposes to development of arteriosclerosis, hypertension, greater tendency develop blood clots and many other problems.
What Could We Do
How do we approach this problem? The answer is to obviously correct the causes. Genetics, well we could not do much about that, but the other two causes we could with proper nutrition and exercise. The problem too often is starting an exercise program is difficult because in the overweight individual the metabolic motor is not able to produce the needed amount of energy to exercise and to complicate that, the weight may limit ones mobility. Diet is something that is ingrained through out ones life, therefore is difficult to change and to add to that overeating sometimes could also be related with some psychological issues. So when I doctor advises his patient “You need to loss weight, go on diet and exercise.” it does just does not usually work.
It is ideal to have health coach coordinating a trainer and nutritionist working in tandem with the individual, setting up a program and to follow-up ones progress and to motivate compliance. We are social beings often having a buddy be in the same program would help in the wellness journey.
When you limit your caloric intake and burn more calories it improves your metabolic engine by not having that fuel overload and eventually makes the cells more sensitive to insulin reversing the type 2 diabetes for those that already have it. This increased efficiency in your metabolic in engine result in more energy as a result of being able to burn sugar and fatty to turn them to energy. Those who could not afford to go to a trainer and a nutritionist there is enough help in the internet offered for free by experts. The secret is creating systematic program with define goals and a dedicated attitude. An activity and caloric tracking device may also help to objectively monitoring your progress.
For those who are extremely obese bariatric surgery could be an option to help loss weight. We know that this procedure lessens the food intake. Many have reversed their type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure after losing weight and are able to resume normal physical activities. This surgery is even covered in some instances by health insurance companies if your physician is able to show medical necessity which meets a certain criteria.
In general, gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgery could be an option for you if:
- Efforts to lose weight with diet and exercise have been unsuccessful
- Your body mass index (BMI) is 40 or higher (extreme obesity)
- Your BMI is 35 to 39.9 (obesity) and you have a serious weight-related health problem, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or severe sleep apnea
Obesity, which leads to metabolic syndrome (read home page), is becoming more common even among younger age group and in the future may over take smoking as the leading factor in heart disease. It is possible to prevent or delay metabolic syndrome by life style changes. Life long commitment and long term effort and team work with your health care providers: physician, fitness trainer and nutritionist. It is never too late to get started to get your body become a leaner meaner machine.