The Scoop on Obesity

Obesity is a health condition in which the individual in question has an excessive amount of body fat that can have a negative impact on their health. This excessive fat is usually defined in terms of body mass index (BMI). The BMI can distinguish overweight from being obese.

Obesity is associated with different diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, breathing disorders, and certain types of cancer. Experts say that obesity can reduce life expectance. If a person is obese, a doctor can help with a treatment plan. A treatment plan for obesity usually involves a diet, an increase in physical activity, medications and possible weight loss surgery.

Obesity is not one of the leading causes of preventable death worldwide. Authorities claim that obesity is now a serious public health problem.

The medications are usually called, “anti-obesity drugs”, and a common obesity surgery is called, “bariatric surgery”.

Anti-obesity drugs:

Orlistat (Xenical) has the purpose of reducing intestinal fat by inhibiting pancreatic lipase. This medication can cause frequent, oily bowel movements. It can improve symptoms though if fat is in the diet.

Sibutramine (Reductil or Meridia) suppresses the appetite and reduces the desire to eat. Side effects from this medication include dry mouth, constipation and headache. It may also cause insomnia.

Metformin (Glucophage) can reduce weight.

Byetta (Exenatide) is a long-acting analogue of the hormone GLP-1. This medicine is currently being used to treat type-2 diabetes. This medication can cause severe nausea.

Symlin is an injectable medication that must be given at mealtimes. It is a synthetic analogue of the hormone Amylin. Type-1 and Type-2 diabetics can only use it along with insulin. Studies are being done to see if it is safe to use for non-diabetics who are obese.

Bariatric surgery modifies the gastrointestinal tract in an effort to reduce nutrient intake or absorption. This method of weight reduction should only be used when medication and other methods have failed to reduce weight.

Doctors also recommend that a person use a combination in treatment to include improved diet, a moderate physical activity daily schedule and behavior changes to improve eating habits and how the individual sees food.

Genetic factors and environmental factors can also influence whether or not a person becomes obese. Obesity tends to run in families. Families usually share the same diet and lifestyle habits. Lifestyle behaviors such as how much a person eats or the level of physical activity can also influence whether or not a person becomes obese.

Individuals cannot change genetics but they can learn to control eating habits, and how physically active they are. They can learn how to choose appropriate portion sizes and commit to 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity everyday. Where you eat is also important. Eating at the table instead of in front of the TV reduces the amount of food you consume.

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