Obesity is one of the most common health problems in the Western world and amongst the higher income groups in India and other developing countries. It may be described as a bodily condition characterized by excessive deposition of fat in the adipose tissue.
Obesity usually results from the intake of foods in excess of physiological needs.
Obesity can be found more in persons with a sedentary lifestyle who consume food more than the normal daily requirement. It can occur in both men and women at any age. In women, obesity is likely to occur at menopause and after pregnancy. A women usually gains excess weight during pregnancy. Part of this is an increase in the adipose tissue which serves as a store against the demands of lactation. Many women gain weight and retain part of this weight. Each succeeding child makes them relatively obese.
Obesity should be taken as a serious health issue as this extra accumulated fat puts a strain on the kidneys, liver and heart as well as the large weight bearing joints such as the knees, ankles and hips which ultimately shortens the span of life.
Overweight persons pose themselves to a risk of many diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart failure, gout, arthritis, coronary thrombosis and gall bladder and liver disorders.
The main cause of obesity is overeating that is the intake of calories beyond the energy requirement of the body. Some people may be in the habit of eating too much while others are habituated of consuming high calorie foods. These people fail to adjust their appetite to reduce energy requirement and as a result they gain weight continuously.
There has been an increasing awareness about the psychological aspects of obesity in the recent times. Persons who are generally lonely, bored, unloved or unhappy, those who are discontented with their families or financial or social standing usually tend to overeat as eating according to them is a solace and pleasure.
Many times disturbances of the pituitary or thyroid glands also lead to obesity. But glandular disorders account for very minute percentage of the total incidences of obesity. Such persons keep gaining weight due to a lower basal metabolism rate.
A proper planned course of dietetic treatment in conjunction with suitable exercise and other measures for promoting elimination is the only scientific way of dealing with obesity.
Proper emphasis should be placed on the selection of foods with the least number of calories which provide the maximum number of nutrients.
Foods which should be avoided by the patient are high fat foods such as cheese, butter, ice-creams, chocolates, fried foods, fats, meats and gravies, high carbohydrate foods like cakes, cookies, candies, bread, potatoes, cereal products, legumes, syrup, honey, sugar and rich puddings; beverages such as alcoholic drinks and all fountain drinks.
The patient should also adopt all other natural methods of reducing weight along with dietetic treatment. Exercise forms a basic part of weight reduction programme.
Walking is the best and safest exercises to begin with and can be followed by swimming, running, jogging and other outdoor sports. It helps to utilize the calories stored in the body fat and tones up the muscles of the body, besides relieving tension.
Measures which bring on an excessive perspiration such as steam bath, sauna bath and heavy massage should be adopted by the patient which helps in reducing weight. Obese persons should also make every possible effort to avoid negative emotions such as anxiety, fear and insecurity and develop a right and positive attitude towards life.
Certain yogic asanas are also very beneficial. These asanas not only break up the fat deposits in the body and help slimming but also strengthen the flabby areas. Asanas such as halasana, shalabhasana, bhujangasana, dhanurasana, ardhmatsyendrasana, naukasana, paschimottasana, yogamudra, trikonasana and vajrasana are recommended.
These asanas work on the glands, strengthen many weak areas, improve circulation and induce deep breathing which helps to burn off excess fat gradually. Yogic kriyas like jalneti and kunjal and pranayamas such as bhastrika and kapalabhati are also helpful in bringing the body weight back to normal.
Thus it can be concluded that obesity has become one of the burning health issues in recent times and necessary steps should be taken to control excessive weight gain by adopting proper, scientific and natural methods along with a change in lifestyle.