16 July 2010
Earlier, obesity was widely perceived as a symbol of wealth and fertility. But now, obesity is a stigma and people are becoming aware of the hazards of being overweight.
Obesity is a medical condition in which bodyweight accumulates to such an extent that it may have an adverse effect on health, body and mind. Obesity is commonly caused due to one or combination of causes such as consumption of excessive dietary caloric intake, binge eating or night eating, lack of physical activities, endocrine disorders like hypothyroidism, medications like insulin, oral contraceptives, anticonvulsants and so on.
Malnutrition in early phase of life is believed to play a role in the rising rate of obesity. Sometimes genetic causes like Cushing’s Syndrome (a hormonal disorder caused by high levels of cortisol) may be on the list.
In women, obesity may lead to various diseases like diabetes mellitis type 2, menstrual disorders, infertility, complications during pregnancy, birth defects, intrauterine foetal death, low back pain, osteoarthritis, obstructive sleep apnoea, certain type of cancers such as breast, ovarian and cervical, urinary infections, urinary incontinence, fungal infections of skin, axilla and groin due to large skin folds, and poor mobility due to overweight.
Body Mass Index
Obesity can be well defined by BMI or Body Mass Index and further evaluated in terms of Fat Distribution via the Waist Hip Ratio. BMI can be calculated by weight in kg/(height in metres ) ². BMI of 27 or high can be considered as obese.
Based on BMI We Can Categorise As Follows
- BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 means normal
- BMI of 25.0 to 29.9 means Overweight Class 1
- BMI of 30.0 to 34.9 means Obesity Class 1
- BMI of 35.0 to 39.9 means Obesity Class 2
- BMI more than 40.0 means Obesity Class 3
Waist Hip Ratio
Waist Hip Ratio (WHR) 0.7 co–relates with general health and fertility in women and a probability of normal range in oestrogen levels. It defines essential body fat (which protects internal organs from external damage) from storage body fat (adipose tissue accumulation). If there is increased weight accumulation around waist, the body is apple–shaped and if there is increased weight accumulation around the hips, the body is pear–shaped.
Measure the waist at its narrowest point, and then measure the hips at the widest point. Divide the waist measurement by the hip measurement. For example, a woman with a 35–inch waist and 46–inch hips would have a waist–to–hip ratio of 0.76 (35 divided by 46 = 0.76). Women with waist–to–hip ratios of more than 0.8 and men with waist–to–hip ratios of more than 1.0 are ‘apples’.
Another rough way of estimating the amount of a person’s abdominal fat is by measuring the waist circumference. Men with a waist circumference of 40 inches or greater and women with a waist circumference of 35 inches or greater are considered to have increased health risks related to obesity.
In order to calculate body fat, several methods are used such as: Underwater weighing or hydrostatic weighing; BOP POD (air displacement); DEXA (Dual Energy X–Ray Absorptiometry) – dual x–rays determine bone density, percentage of body fat and also the location of fat; skin calipers (measuring skin fold thickness by calipers); Bioelectric Impedance Analysis (BIA). DEXA, skin calipers and BIA are commonly used in obesity clinics and gyms.
For women, body image is of utmost importance as it makes them confident. So look up Dr Nene’s guidelines on diet and exercise and obesity control in ‘Doctalk’ next week.