Obesity – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Obesity is one of our nation’s most critical health problems; each year, hundreds of thousands of people are affected by serious and sometimes life-threatening mental and physical complications as a direct consequence of their obesity. Appropriate treatment not only improves individuals’ quality of life, it can save lives.

Symptoms of Obesity

Following are the major obesity symptoms:

Excessive sweating with bad smell
Feeling fatigue without doing any work
Excessive hunger and thirst

Joint pain and reduced mobility
Osteoarthritis, a disease in which the joints deteriorate
Loss of flexibility and increased incidence of musculoskeletal injuries
Pulmonary (breathing) problems, including sleep apnea

Causes of Obesity

Genetics (hormones).

Overeating.

High diet of carbohydrates.

Slow metabolism.

socioeconomic factors – There is a strong relationship between economic status and obesity, especially among women. Women who are poor and of lower social status are six times more likely to be obese than women of higher socioeconomic status. The occurrence of obesity is also highest among minority groups, especially among women. Eighty-two percent of African-American women 20 years old or older are overweight.

Obesity occurs when your body consumes more calories than it burns. In the past, many people thought that obesity was simply caused by over-eating and under-exercising, resulting from a lack of will power and self-control. Although these are significant contributing factors, doctors recognize that obesity is a complex medical problem that involves genetic, environmental, behavioural, and social factors. All these factors play a role in determining a person’s weight.

Treatment

For some children, especially if they are still growing taller, it’s more important to stabilize weight and allow them to grow into their weight. Overweight children who are still growing do not necessarily need to lose weight but simply maintain so that they can grow into their weight. The earlier a child is identified as being overweight or at risk the easier it is to treat. Because it’s hard to permanently change dietary and exercise habits, it’s essential to do something sooner rather than later.

Other treatment typically includes dietary changes to limit fat and calorie intake, increased exercise, and changes in eating habits or patterns. Severe cases might require surgical options to reduce the size of the stomach or to bypass a portion of the stomach and intestines.

Prescription Medications for the Treatment of Obesity   

While most side effects of prescription medications for obesity are mild, serious complications have been reported. Valvular heart disease has recently been reported to occur in association with the use of certain appetite suppressant medications. As a result of these reports, the manufacturer has voluntarily withdrawn two medications, fenfluramine (Pondimin) and dexfenfluramine (Redux) from the market.

Although surgery (such as gastric bypass) is the last resort for the treatment of obesity, it can be extremely effective. However, it should be performed at an experienced surgical center, because such operations can carry significant risks, especially in the post-operative period. Consensus recommendations are to limit surgical therapies to patients with morbid obesity (BMI > 40).