Obesity, a chronic disease, is one of the major public health problems affecting every region of the globe. Obesity is a complex chronic disease caused by multiple factors such as genetic, hormonal, environmental, etc. Its prevalence has been steadily increasing over the last 5 decades and can lead to many severe co-morbidities. Currently, India hasmore than 135 million people who are obese.
Commenting about the impact of obesity Dr. Debasis Basu Senior Consultant in Internal Medicine & Diabetes, Apollo Gleneagles Hospital & President, Diabetes Awareness & You said “In my32 years of practice, about 80% of the obese patients suffer from type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease, joint pains, sleep apnea, liver and kidney diseases, etc. Obesity also leads to certain cancers like breast and endocrine in women and colon and pancreatic in men. Many of them do not realize that obesity can be genetic and timely intervention is critical for effective management of obesity.”
Obesity is often mistaken as a lifestyle disease caused due to an individual’s eating habits and lack of physical activity. Patients, caregivers, and society often forgets that obesity is a chronic condition that requires long term medical intervention for effective management.
Commenting about the reason for high incidence of obesity, Dr Debasis Basu said “Obesity is a chronic disease like diabetes and needs treatment for life. It hampers the mental and physical quality of life. Therefore, thefocus should be on long term care and prevention. However,there is a lot of social stigma associated with obesity due to which thepatients hesitate to consult anexpert for proper guidance.”
Highlighting the risk of infections such as COVID-19 in people with obesity, Dr Debasis Basu said “Obese people are more likely than normal-weight people to get other diseases that are independent risk factors for severe COVID-19, including heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes. They are also susceptible to metabolic syndrome, in which blood sugar levels, fat levels, or both are unhealthy and possibly lead to high blood pressure”.
Currently, there are multiple treatment options that help in obesity management. Similar to all chronic medical conditions, effective management of obesity requires a partnership between a highly motivated patient and a committed team of health professionals, which may include physicians, psychologists, physical and exercise therapists, dieticians, and other sub-specialists, depending on the co-morbidities of the individual patient.