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We are going through a global pandemic of obesity. It is the most significant global healthcare challenge of this century. It is a truly â€œmulti-systemâ€ disease, which affects every single organ system in the human body. The cost of managing obesity and its consequences is already running into hundreds of billions of dollars globally. Considering the scale of the problem, it is surprising that though the diseases that it causes (like Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and Heart Disease) draw a lot of attention, it itself fails to make it to the headlines. Some of the common myths associated with obesity in India are as follows.
It Is A Lifestyle Condition
Obesity is not a lifestyle condition. It is a disease and officially recognized by the American Medical Association to be a disease. It is a multisystem disease with disastrous consequences for the individualâ€™s health. It is a pity that a devastating disease such as this is often equated with lifestyle conditions, which means that the vast majority of patients are left untreated. Neither patients nor their doctors usually realize the seriousness of the situation until it is too late.
It Is A Cosmetic Condition
It is the second commonest myth associated with obesity that it is a cosmetic condition. People donâ€™t realize that an obese individual is suffering from a disease, which will significantly reduce the quality and quantity of their life. The implications of suffering from obesity are far worse than many other diseases like diabetes, heart diseases, high blood pressure etc, but the attention that it gets is miniscule compared to others. Obesity is not a cosmetic condition. It is the mother of all diseases.
Obese Individuals Can Easily Correct The Situation By Eating Less
Nothing could be far removed from the truth than this. It is not easy to lose weight without significant understanding of all the relevant issues and commitment. A lot of education, personalized tips, and regular counseling is required by committed obesity specialists to achieve success. It requires some profound changes in eating habits, environment, and the way of living. Sadly, not all the variables that influence individualsâ€™ eating behavior are in their own control. It cannot be a problem of individuals when up to 80% of people in some countries are overweight or obese. It is a problem of the society that needs tackling at a public health level.
If Obese Individuals Canâ€™t Lose Weight By Themselves, They Have To Live With It
Even though most doctors and patients donâ€™t fully realize the full implications of obesity, they do know that it is not good for health. However, if they are not themselves successful, they will accept it as something that they have to live with. How many patients see an obesity expert try to get their weight down? How many patients have read about it? An expert can help you lose weight by suggesting practical tips that work for you. If conservative measures fail, there are drugs, devices, and surgeries that can help you.
All these are very safe interventions and the risks of these interventions are far outweighed by their benefits. Take it this way, living with obesity is like living with diabetes without any treatment. It will harm your body every single minute of the day. If you want to live healthier and longer, you must maintain your weight within a very narrow range and as close to ideal weight as possible (In my opinion, a BMI of 21.5 corresponds to the ideal weight for Indian population). How you achieve that is a different matter altogether! But that is where your obesity specialist comes in. Their job is to help you lose weight and chances of you being successful are much higher if you see a dedicated obesity expert on a regular basis.
My Family Doctor Knows Everything That Is To Know About Obesity
The problem of obesity is a relatively recent phenomenon. This disease has only achieved epidemic proportions over the last decade or so. Even now, the Indian Medical Association does not officially recognize obesity as a disease and the medical curriculum does not give much emphasis on obesity. It is hence hardly surprising that most general physicians are ill-equipped to advise you on obesity management and donâ€™t know much about tips on how to lose weight. You need to see somebody who takes a special interest in obesity management. There are very few people like that in India but they are there and you need to seek them out.
Finally, I would summarize by saying that Obesity is a multisystem disease with terrible consequences. You donâ€™t have to live with it. It will shorten your life and gives rise to a number of diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart diseases etc. If you donâ€™t believe me, look around. Individuals with obesity are usually suffering from a number of other diseases and will die sooner. How many obese people make it to 70s? If you know people who are in the 80s, how many of them are obese? If you want to enjoy a healthy life and live longer, whatever you do, try and maintain your weight close to your ideal weight. To calculate your ideal weight, multiply the square of your height in meters to 22.0(Ideal Weight = 22.0 x Height in meters2). If you struggle on your own, see somebody who can help you.