What Is Obesity?
Obesity can be defined traditionally as an increase in total body weight which is greater than 20% for an individual’s ideal body weight.
Obesity occurs as a result of a combination of one or more of the following
- Genetic factors
- Increased consumption of energy dense food
- Increased consumption of foods rich in sugars and saturated fats
- Less consumption of nutrient-rich foods
- Reduced physical activity
Body mass index (BMI) is a commonly used parameter to assess the prevalence of overweight and obesity. A BMI of more than 25 kg/sq.m is called overweight and a BMI of more than 30 kg/sq.m is called obese.
Problems With Obesity
- Globally, there are more than 1 billion overweight adults.
- Obesity has turned out to be a major contributor to the global burden of chronic diseases and disability.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) in 2016, termed obesity as a global epidemic.
Risk Factors Linked To Obesity
Obesity is a major cause of the development of various diseases in our body. People who are overweight or obesity are known to be at risk of the following illnesses
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Type II diabetes
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
- Sleep apnea
- Coronary artery diseases
- Gall stones
- Kidney diseases
- Cancer of breast, colon, prostate
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome in females
What Type Of Doctor Should I See For Weight Loss?
Effective weight loss treatment can be offered by a general practitioner, nutritionist, bariatric physician or surgeon, and a dietician. It is important to know about each of these specializations and modes of treatment before thinking of consulting one of these.
1. General Practitioners
General practitioners are qualified doctors who have a good knowledge of medicine and deal which the acute as well as chronic diseases. General practitioners can give basic knowledge about medications along with prevention measures which can be taken to prevent illnesses related to overweight or obesity. General physicians treat patients in a holistic way. They advise lifestyle modifications along with medicines if required. If they find any disturbance at the emotional level, then they also advise visiting a psychologist.
2. Bariatric Physician
Bariatric medicine specifically deals with the study of weight loss. Doctors who are qualified in bariatric medicine are called bariatric physicians. Their ways of treatment for obese and overweight people are relatively simple as they give educate their patients regarding diet, nutrition, exercise, behavior therapies along with appropriate medications. Bariatric surgeon is the one who specializes in bariatric surgery.
Their approach to weight loss involves the following:
- Advice regarding diet and promoting the choice of healthy food.
- Exercises for weight loss according to the suitability
- Once patients start losing weight, they advise regarding maintaining optimal health by maintaining an optimum weight.
- Advice regarding the change in lifestyle choices for the management of their weight loss.
- Advice regarding behavior modification such as increased physical activity in the form of walks and exercise, regularizing meal timings and meal portions, managing stress, improved posture while sitting, walking and exercising and so on.
A nutritionist not just provides effective advice for overweight or obese people, but also to people who want to gain weight with an appropriate diet. A nutritionist educates patients about the foods which are important for the body and also about the foods which are to be avoided. Nutritionists provide knowledge related to the food and nutrition and their impact on the body and overall health.
Dietitians are people who are expert in dietetics or human nutrition. A dietician provides advice regarding the following:
- A tailor-made diet plan for both obese or overweight and underweight people containing foods that should be included or avoided in the diet.
- Dieticians also give advice to patients about meal portions and meal timings depending upon each person’s individual preferences and requirements.
- About the type of food which they should consume so that foods provide maximum nutritional value.
Tests Advised By Doctors
To know the root cause of getting obese, doctors may advise a set of blood tests to which also help to detect major diseases beforehand:
- Blood sugar test- Fasting and postprandial
- Thyroid test for T3, T4, and TSH hormone.
- Lipid profile test for cholesterol levels
- Kidney function test
- Liver function test
- Vitamin D level
- ECG to know the function of the heart
How To Choose The Best Doctor Consultation For Weight Loss?
Since such wide numbers of options are available for weight loss, people tend to get confused as to how to choose the best doctor consultation for weight loss.
Weight loss consultation is a comprehensive communication between an overweight or obese patient and the consultant who could be a physician, dietitian or a nutritionist.
Choosing a doctor for consultation entirely depends upon the patient. Patients these days are well acquainted with the way the internet works to provide beneficial reviews about a particular doctor or an institute
The ultimate aim of all consultants is to reduce the weight and gain health, decreases the risk of major diseases which can be caused due to obesity. Such doctors will help a patient in the following ways to achieve a healthier weight:
- The best consultant will try to find out the main cause for the weight gain and will attempt to treat this root cause instead of simply focusing on weight loss.
- The consultant will try to find out all those factors or triggers which are responsible for the weight gain in patients.
- The consultant will allow the patient to choose from the best available treatment options for weight loss which are suitable, desirable and also comfortable for the patient.
- A weight loss consultant may also advise weight loss pills to the patient which help in faster reduction of weight.
- The consultant will encourage the patient to maintain the ideal weight so that all risk factors for health can be minimized.
- A physician may also advise a person to undergo bariatric surgery if the patient is morbidly obese and is already dealing with effects of obesity such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, PCOS, varicose veins and so on.
Being overweight is not only a major problem in India but is a major concern globally. Obesity can have a negative impact not just physically but also mentally to a great extent. The reason for such social isolation among overweight or obese individuals occurs because slim figures are idolized by people worldwide.
Although losing weight may be a tough task, but it is definitely a step which can be taken or encouraged, in order to prevent the development of other serious illnesses later in life.
Dr. Archana Tegwal is currently working as a lecturer in under-graduate faculty of Homoeopathy in Jawaharlal Nehru Homoeopathic Medical College, Parul University, Vadodara (Gujarat). She has done BHMS & MD in Homeopathic Materia Medica in March 2016 from Dr. V.H.Dave Homeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Anand (Gujarat). She also serves as a regional manager in NGO “World Healing Society Foundation”.