Obesity is a chronic disease that can have adverse effects on your body and overall health if not managed in time. People who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop diseases like diabetes, hypertension, heart ailments, high blood pressure, and bone & joint diseases. While all this might sound tragic, the good news is that by incorporating healthy eating habits and a regular exercise regime in your day-to-day lifestyle, you can not only reduce the negative effects of obesity but can actually prevent yourself from falling prey to it all together.

But before coming to that, this is what you need to know about obesity.

How to know if you are obese:

Body Mass Index in an important number to know if you are at a normal weight, overweight or obese. It is a measure which takes into account a person’s weight and height to gauge total fat ratio of the body.

How to calculate your BMI:

Metric formula:

BMI = weight (kg) / height (square) (m)

Imperial formula:

BMI = weight (lb) / height (square) (m) x 703

  • A BMI of 18 to 24 is considered to be normal and that you are lower risk of contracting any life threatening disease.
  • A BMI of 26 to 27 is about 20 percent overweight, which is believed to carry moderate health risks.
  • A BMI of 30 and higher than that is considered as obese

Obesity in children:

Obesity in children is usually an ignored topic by parents. They usually neglect minor health conditions in their child, and only feel the necessity to see a doctor when their child develops some kind of serious complication like excess fat, difficulty running or doing a physical exercise. But if your child has following conditions, it’s a sign that he/she could be obese:

  • Early puberty
  • Joint Pain
  • Difficulty in exercising

If you ignore these signs, they could result in metabolic syndrome and can end up with Type 2 diabetes as side effect of obesity.

Facts about obesity in the world:

  • There are almost 108 million children and more than 600 million adults with BMI greater than 30, the threshold for obesity
  • According to studies, India has the second highest number of obese children in the world
  • Obesity is not just affecting the urban well-to-do Indians, but researchers have found that obesity is a major cause of concern in the villages as well
  • By 2025, India will have over 17 million obese children and would be the second country among 184 countries with a high number of obese children
  • Although, the prevalence of obesity among children has been lower than adults, the rate of increase in childhood obesity in many countries is greater than that of adults

What causes obesity?

  1. Wrong eating habits

Obesity doesn’t develop overnight, it progresses from poor diet and wrong eating habits since childhood.

  1. Consumption of junk food

During childhood, it’s difficult to keep children completely away from junk food.  So, the more they eat out, the higher chances of obesity.

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  1. Less physical activity

Technology boom is making each one of us physically inactive, leading to obesity.

  1. Lack of awareness

Most of the people lack basic knowledge about the positives of eating a balanced diet and inclusion of right kind of nutrition, which is also the major cause of obesity.

Effects of obesity

Obesity leads to a host of other health woes, which are growing at an alarming rate in India. Below are some of the effects of obesity:

  1. High blood pressure

High blood pressure is among the major effects of obesity. Having a body size, which is huge, may increase blood pressure as your heart needs to pump harder to supply blood to all your cells.

  1. Type 2 Diabetes

Most people who are obese are likely to develop diabetes. Being obese causes the cells in your body to change, hence making them resistant to the hormone insulin. 

The work of insulin is to carry sugar from blood to the cells, where it is used for energy. And when a person is insulin resistant, blood sugar cannot be taken up by the cells, thus resulting in high blood sugar. Furthermore, the cells in our body that produce insulin must work extra hard to try to keep blood sugar normal. This might cause these cells to gradually fail.

  1. Stroke

Do you know obesity is said to increase blood pressure, which is the leading cause of stroke? Being overweight increases your chances of developing other health complications linked to stroke like high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and heart diseases among others.

  1. Cancer

Cancer is among the biggest effects of obesity. Gaining weight as an adult increases the risk for different kinds of cancers, even if the weight gain doesn’t result in obesity. The reason for this could be that your body cells may release hormones that affect cell growth, thus leading to cancer. Also, if you are continuously eating bad or are physically inactive; this might lead to increase in weight, which can contribute to cancer risk.

Research has also reported links between obesity and cancers of the gallbladder, ovaries, and pancreas.

  1. Sleep apnea

Obesity is one of biggest risk factors for sleep apnea, which is a condition in which a person faces pauses in breathing while sleeping.

A person who is overweight generally have more fat stored around his/her neck. This might make the airway smaller, which can make breathing difficult or loud, or breathing may stop completely for short periods of time. Furthermore, fat stored around the neck and throughout the body also produce substances that cause inflammation, the biggest risk factor for sleep apnea.

  1. Gallbladder Disease

Gallbladder disease and gallstones are also among the effects of obesity.

In fact, you would be surprised to know that weight loss itself, particularly rapid weight loss of a large amount of weight, can make you more likely to develop gallstones.

  1. Osteoarthritis

As we all know, osteoarthritis is a common joint condition that affects the knee, hip, or back. Being overweight places extra pressure on these joints and wears away the cartilage that normally protects them.

  1. Gout

A major effect of obesity, gout, is a disease that affects the joints. This usually happens when you have too much uric acid in your blood. This extra uric acid can form crystals that get deposited in the joints.

Gout is very common in overweight people. Hence, the more you weigh, the more likely you are to develop gout.

Tips to avoid obesity related diseases

To ensure a healthy weight, follow these tips in your everyday life:

  • You need to keep the intake of sugar to less than 10% of your total calories to maintain a normal weight. Sugar doesn’t refer only to added refined sugar that you put in your tea/ coffee. A lot of foods have natural sugar hidden in them too, from which you need to stay away from.
  • You must not skip your meals. Three balanced meals in a day is mandatory. You can take a standard dinner plate – fill ½ with vegetables, 1/3rd with cereal, 1/3rd with protein, and add 150 ml of milk/dahi/dessert.
  • Become more physically active to control your blood sugar levels and prevent or delay health problems.
  • Eat small meals through the day
  • Do at least 30-45 minutes of cardio and maintain an active lifestyle
  • Cut down your consumption of sugary foods.

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