Obesity is when your body is carrying too much excess fat and it is defined by your BMI (“body mass index”) which is measured by comparing your body height and weight. BMI between 50 pounds and 60 pounds is considered overweight and over 60 pounds is considered obese. Excess weight can often be controlled by diet, exercise and willpower but when it gets out of hand it’s time to take action and look at other treatment options
So What Causes Obesity?
There are many different reasons for obesity such as how much you eat and how much exercise you take. If you spend every night in front of the TV eating snacks and take little or no exercise then your weight is bound to increase. As we get older our metabolism tends to slow down which means you need fewer calories to maintain your weight, so many people need to increase physical activity as they age to avoid extra bulk.
Some people’s tendency to put on weight can be down to genetics and are more likely to put on weight if their parents do. Gender can come into the equation too as men burn more energy without exercising and need more calories than women to maintain their weight. Women on the other hand aren’t as lucky as they tend to be naturally more overweight than men and after the menopause the metabolic rate decreases so are then more likely to gain a few extra pounds.
A lot of people eat more when they are bored, feel sad or are depressed and certain illnesses such as an underactive thyroid can make you gain weight; drugs and medications associated with these illnesses such as steroids and antidepressants can also contribute.
Natural Treatment for Obesity
The best way to correct any weight gain is to burn off more calories than we eat by changing our diet and taking more exercise. Drink plenty of water and eat plenty of fiber, fruit and vegetables and ditch food that is high in fat and sugar. Make sure you take vitamin supplements if you need to.
Physical activity will help to burn off extra calories, decrease your appetite and increase the body’s ability to turn fat into energy.
It may be useful to plan a detox to get rid of toxins that have built up in your body but you should see a health care professional so you can work out an individual plan.
Medical Treatments for Obesity
There are several known drugs used to treat obesity and although they do not promote a great deal of weight loss they can help to shift up to ten pounds. Unfortunately this weight is usually put back on after the treatment is stopped.
Orlistat is one such drug which helps to prevent pancreatic enzymes from breaking down food in the digestive tract and stops it being absorbed. This treatment has been known to help with a six pound weight loss but it should be noted that it can cause gastrointestinal problems in 15-30% of users. If prescribed this treatment you should supplement your diet with vitamins.
Phentermine and diethylpropion can also be used as stimulants but only for up to twelve weeks as they can be abused if used for longer.
Antidepressants such as fluoxetine, sertraline and bupropion are sometimes used to treat depression which can also promote weight loss. However, it is not recommended to use this drug specifically to treat obesity as this would require higher than typical doses and long-term effects of this treatment are not yet known.
Surgical Treatments for Obesity
The most successful type of surgery for obesity is bariatric surgery and this is only usually offered to those with a BMI of 40 plus. There are two types of surgery, the first being a restrictive procedure which limits calorie intake by re-shaping the stomach. Malabsorptive procedures are used to shorten the small bowel in order to limit the absorption of calories. Sometimes these surgical procedures are combined.
Bariatric surgery comes with risks and requires long-term commitment and medical follow-up appointments.
As with all treatments for obesity they work better if integrated with other therapies usually behavioral. This type of strategy implies that behaviors are partly responsible for weight problems and encourage social supports and meal-planning as a more cognitive approach and introduce rewards for healthy behavior. Cognitive counseling is helpful in maintaining weight loss in the long-term.