Human beings come in all shapes and sizes. We recognize and celebrate the differences between each and every individual. Although, for some their shape and size may be seen by some as a point of ridicule. Tall, short or thin people probably face far less ridicule than a person who is obese.
Children are particularly vulnerable to being mocked and derided by those within their peer group. Such behavior can have an overall detrimental effect on a child’s mental health and psychological well-being. From a young age, irreparable damage can be caused and carried through to adulthood.
Obesity by Definition
If we were to look in a dictionary, it tells us that obesity is, “the state or condition of being very fat or overweight”. The problem with this definition is that the words ‘fat’ and “overweight” are somewhat subjective. Many people also view such words in a comparative manner; thus, they can be looked upon as being relative.
The medical profession avoids subjectivity; therefore, a more precise equitable definition is needed to define obesity. Commonly, the medical profession assesses a person’s weight using the Body Mass Index, or BMI. Although, this is not a modern method of calculating a person’s healthy weight.
The BMI can be traced back to a Belgian mathematician and physician named Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet. It was backed in the 1830s that he tasked himself with defining “l’homme moyen,” or the average man. The method of calculation he devised was, at that time, referred to as the Quetelet Index.
Quetelet fathomed that, excluding juvenile growth spurts, a person’s weight increase as the square of their height. The Quetelet Index was later termed the Body Mass Index in 1972, by Ancel Benjamin Keys. He was an American physiologist who studied the influence of diet on health.
As an epidemiologist, Ancel Benjamin Keys hypothesized that, removing saturated fat from a diet and replacing it with polyunsaturated fat reduced the risk of cardiovascular heart disease. It is known that cardiovascular health issues in adult life can be caused by obesity in childhood.
Causes of Obesity
The human being needs energy input to function, this energy is measured in calories. An active, physically fit man requires a daily calorie input of 2,500 calories, and for a woman 2,000. If we consider that a hamburger, fries and a milkshake can be as much as 1,500 calories, these totals are easily reached, and exceeded.
The proliferation of “fast food” outlets selling, what is often referred to as “junk food”, has played a large part in the early onset of obesity. Sugary drinks, processed food, comfort eating or simply eating too much will also raise the calorific intake above what is considered healthy.
A lack of physical exercise is another contributary factor of obesity. Our modern lives are far less active than those of previous generations. More and more working lives are sedentary, which is also true of the lives of young people with leisure time being spent watching TV or playing computer games. This results in the calorific intake exceeding the calories being burnt through exercise.
The simple science is that if you consume less calories than you burn you will lose weight, this is of course true. But if only it were that simple. Weight gain and weight loss is a far more complicated science, and their can be a host of reasons for weight gain and obesity.
Genetics can play a part in being overweight. It is true that having a large appetite can be inherited from a parent, and there are some inherited medical conditions that can lead to obesity, such as Prader-Willi syndrome. But, for the most part, all healthy people are able to lose weight.
Other medical conditions can develop that may lead to weight gain and obesity. Having an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) is a condition that is, globally, on the increase. This is when the thyroid gland produces an insufficient level of hormones. The rare disorder of Cushing’s syndrome causes an over-production of steroid hormones, thus, weight gain.
Medication being taken for unrelated issues can also lead to weight gain. Epileptics and diabetics are routinely prescribed corticosteroids which will contribute to weight gain. As do some antidepressants and medications taken for schizophrenia.
Diagnosis and Treatment
The bottom line is that weight gain and obesity can be caused by many factors. Inherited health issues, poor diet, social conditions and even problems withing the family unit can all be contributary factors.
Due to there being so many contributary factors, some of which may also be interactive, professional diagnosis is vital. For this reason, Samitivej Hospital created their Health and Weight Control Center, a specialist unit for the diagnosis and treatment of weight related health issues.
For a full and proper diagnosis, it is necessary to understand the root cause of the issue. The center’s specialists are highly trained and will investigate fully a patient’s diet, work and social spheres, leisure and family life. Routine health checks will also be undertaken to rule out any underlying medical conditions.
Then, after the deep exploration of the cause, or causes, and if obesity is the issue, a specialist diet and eating plan will be devised and tailored to match each individual patient’s circumstances. Patients will be advised and educated on their ideal, habitual lifestyle management plan.
It may be appropriate to harmonize the specialist diet, lifestyle, leisure, work and social management plans with medication. Since 2014 Semaglutide has been approved by national medical authorities across the world, including America and Europe, and is now commonly prescribed as an additional aid in combating obesity.
Semaglutide, as an obesity drug, is also used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. This drug is an incretin mimetic and can be taken orally or by injection. It works by stimulating the production of insulin in the pancreas which then helps to control blood sugar. Patient’s taking a course of Semaglutide typically lose between 15% and 20 % of their body weight.
When dietary, exercise and lifestyle plans do not succeed, surgery is an option. Weight loss surgery, such as a gastric bypass, are collectively referred to as bariatric surgery. The fitting of a gastric band is the most common form of bariatric surgery and is now an approved, safe procedure.
The surgery involves the fitting of a band on the upper part of the stomach, which effectively reduces the amount of storage space for consumed food. This leaves the patient feeling full having eaten less. Post-surgery, the band can be adjusted to allow more or less food to be consumed by the physician.
Samitivej Hospital’s Health and Weight Control Center is now recognized as a center of excellence across the world for weight issues and obesity. Patients travel from across the globe to take advantage of their advanced diagnostics and treatment for what can be a life-threatening condition.