Obesity: Rarely Known Causes And Prevention
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Obesity: Rarely Known Causes And Prevention

Dr Sharad Sharma
2 min read

Obesity: Rarely Known Causes And Prevention

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The obesity epidemic which was once limited to the US has now taken over the world, and India is in tight grips of it.

According to a study published in The Lancet Journal in April 2016, India is amongst the top 5 nations in terms of obesity.

Obesity is usually triggered by eating too much. If you consume high amounts of calorie-rich foods, particularly, fats and sugars, but don't burn off the energy through exercise/physical activity, the surplus energy is stored by the body as fat. The sharp increase in the prevalence of obesity correlates with a proportional increase in obesity-associated comorbidities, such as Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, cholesterol disorders, sleep apnoea, polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD) et cetera.

While the epidemic of obesity is primarily attributed to sedentary lifestyle, poor dietary habits and ageing of the population, secondary and rarer causes of obesity generally go undetected and untreated. These include endocrinological disorders, such as Cushing’s syndrome, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), hypogonadism and hypothyroidism, as well as genetic, syndromic and drug-related obesity. Researchers found that these syndromes are quite rare, with their prevalence ranging from 1 in 565 people, to less than 1 in 1 million people.

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All these rarer causes of obesity disrupt the normal calorie maintaining mechanisms in the body. There may be increased hunger, increased fat deposition, lethargy, poor mental ability, slowing of metabolism and various other triggers which lead to increased consumption of calories, decreased physical activity and subsequent obesity. In addition to measuring the degree of obesity and screening for the associated comorbidities and cardiovascular risk factors, the evaluation of obese patients should include screening for potentially treatable endocrine, neurologic or genetic conditions.


The physical signs and symptoms one should watch out for are:
  • growth retardation.
  • mental retardation.
  • abnormal physical features.
  • family history.
  • past medical history (which entails detailed investigations).
Nonetheless, ‘secondary obesity’ is rare and environmental factors along with genetic predisposition represent the most common cause of obesity. Therefore, lifestyle changes including dietary modification and increased physical activity remain the cornerstone of management of obesity; this stands true even for several rarer causes of obesity such as drug-induced obesity, post-menopause, PCOS, hypothalamic obesity and syndromic obesity. Nothing can replace a disciplined and healthy lifestyle for weight management over and above treatment for the underlying associated causes.


Here some simple lifestyle changes that can help you lose those inches and be fit as a fiddle:

1. Eat home-cooked food

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Most restaurants and fast food joints use frozen vegetables and meat and usually, the food served at these restaurants is high in fat and salt. This can take a toll on your health, as well as the waistline. By cooking at home, you can control what goes into your food and cut down on extra calories.

2. Eat breakfast like a king

Skipping breakfast makes you crave for high-calorie foods. Having a breakfast rich in proteins and good fats can help you avoid that. Moreover, when you’ve had a healthy breakfast you’re energetic throughout the day, which further aids in burning calories.

3. Don’t miss out on your precious sleep

When you’re sleep deprived, the levels of Leptin, the hormone responsible to make you feel full, go down. As you feel hungry, more than you should, you eat more, this leads to an increase in weight. Having an adequate sleep keeps your hormones balanced and weight under control.

This anti-obesity day, let’s fight this epidemic together. Share this with your friends and family and help them live a healthy life.

Dr Sharad Sharma is Consultant- Laparoscopic Bariatric Surgery, at Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi- A Fortis Network Hospital.


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