World Obesity Day: Obesity is a chronic disease, requires appropriate medical intervention

Obesity, a chronic disease on the rise in India and across the world, is often seen by many as a lifestyle issue largely caused due to an individual’s eating habit and lack of physical activity. People often associate obesity with overweight, but it is a much more complex condition. Obesity has a direct impact on the quality of life and leads to serious health issues including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and many other serious comorbidities. It is a chronic condition where an upsurge in body fat leads to problems in the way the body stores and utilises energy. What we need to focus is on the root causes of weight gain and adopt a long-term holistic approach. Healthcare practitioners therefore usually recommend treatment beyond just diet and exercise for obese individuals.

The popular narrative around obesity is based on the assumptions about personal irresponsibility, lack of willpower and puts blame on people, eventually shaming them for being obese. Being a complex and chronic condition, obesity needs lifelong management. Obesity treatment should be personalised based on the factors such as sex, the degree of obesity, individual health risks, psycho behavioral, metabolic characteristics, and the result of earlier weight loss efforts. An evaluation of hormonal and genetic factors of weight loss could also help in chalking out a customised therapy for a specific obese patient. A multilevel obesity management network working hand in hand will help achieve personalised treatment plans. Centres of excellence in obesity management or a speciality team will be able to provide all-inclusive programs for the treatment of obesity derived from evidence-based medicine. Acceptance of the obesity in the society is variable, large proportions of patients who are obese or overweight is considered as normal body weight, this concept has to be changed, we need to educate the person with obesity and family members to understand the need of medical intervention to manage obesity. Obesity management is a medically intensive treatment strategy developed to suit the patient’s lifestyle, preference, and condition together. The program can cover review and adjustments of medications, nutrition support, increased physical activities, counselling and bariatric surgery, if the patient is a right candidate.

It is important to understand that obesity is not just caused by overeating or lack of exercise. A lot goes into it, including genetics, environment, and behaviour. It is a condition that’s tough to fight alone and needs to be managed with the help of a medical expert.

Article by
(Dr. Sujit Jha, Principal Director, Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity, Max Super speciality Hospital, Saket, Delhi)