By Vivek Singh Chauhan
October 11 is World Obesity Day and obesity represents a major health challenge worldwide. Apart from known health hazards such as heart disease and diabetes, it can also prevent sexual intimacy and may ruin your social life, experts say.
India is home to the third-highest number of obese and overweight people, according to recent reports.
Obesity is categorised on the basis of BMI, which is defined as the body mass divided by the square of the body height and is universally expressed in units of kg/m2, resulting from mass in kilograms and height in metres.
Obesity is often associated with laziness and a sedentary lifestyle, which may often percolate into sex lives as well. In men, it also significantly decreases the time they can maintain an erection.
Men who are obese tend to have lower levels of testosterone -- the male sex hormone -- that helps in development of male sexual organs and strong bones. The reduced levels of this hormone may at times lead to erectile dysfunction.
"Obesity is directly linked to hormonal imbalance and lower testosterone levels, which, in turn, can inhibit sexual desire in men," Tarun Mittal, Consultant Surgeon (Laparoscopic and Bariatric Surgery), Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, told IANS.
"The increased body fat leads to more sex hormone binding globulins (SHBG) in the system. SHBG is a natural chemical that binds to testosterone, which means that there is less of the sex hormone left to handle the demands of a normal sex life," Mittal added.
Also, obesity increases the risk of developing a number of serious health conditions, including coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, cancer, sleep apnea, gallstones, other heart disease and various types of cancer.
"Obesity can lead to heart problems, breathing difficulties, joint problems and sudden cardiac death," Ashish Bhanot, Chief Bariatric Surgeon, Apollo Spectra Hospitals, New Delhi, told IANS.
"With a high risk of diabetes and high blood pressure, obesity may also take an emotional toll, as some may experience depression, feelings of social isolation, discrimination and an overall lower quality of life," Bhanot added.
Further, apart from the physical intimacy, obesity may also affect the social life, as overweight or obese people are more prone to being bullied, humiliated or ostracised. They are also more likely to engage in bullying behaviour.
The fear of bullying may also lead them to exercise less and stay indoors.
Obesity is directly related to presence of excess fat in the body. Sedentary lifestyle, lack of physical activity, excess consumption of sugars and carbohydrates and lack of exercise are the main causes of the increasing numbers of obesity cases.
However, only a limited number of cases are due primarily to genetics, medical reasons, or psychiatric illness.
"Obesity creates a negative self-image. An individual feels demotivated and there's lack of self-confidence. Such people are unable to accept their weight and their size can leave them sleeping single in a double bed," Deep Goel, Director (Department of Bariatrics) and Gastrointestinal Onco Surgeon, BLK Super Speciality Hospital, told IANS.
Successful weight-loss treatments can help in fighting obesity. This may include making dietary and lifestyle changes, such as eating fewer calories and getting involved in physical activities.
Surgeries through laparoscopic or robotic approach are also performed for weight loss. Obesity surgery works by helping to reduce the number of calories that are available in your body. Surgery is the only available method for morbidly obese patients.
Bariatric surgery is recommended for people with a BMI of 40 or more or if they have a serious health problem related to their obesity. Bariatric surgery also helps in reducing 70-80 per cent of excess within 6-9 months.
Most of the experts say that the natural way of reducing obesity is by controlling the diet and exercising.
"The best way to overcome obesity is by making certain positive lifestyle changes, exercising and adopting a proper fat-loss diet. A healthy lifestyle eventually helps to overcome diseases and enhances the quality of life," Rachit Dua, a Delhi-based advanced certified fitness coach and nutritionist, told IANS.
"Saturated fats do not make you fat, excess of sugar and carbohydrate does. So it is generally advised to strictly stay away from sugars and trans fats. Also, do not over-exert your body with exercise, gradually increase the intensity," Dua suggested.
(Vivek Singh Chauhan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)