Overweight youngsters in the city are increasingly falling victim to diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol. Earlier identified as a prime risk factor for lifestyle disorders, excess weight or obesity is now increasingly associated as a direct cause of several life-threatening ailments, including sleep apnea and stroke.
Doctors say morbid obesity has become a disease by itself. “We see cases wherein obesity is often the direct cause for high BP, hypertension, stroke and diabetes,” says Dr Saurabh Misra, consultant, laparoscopic and minimal access surgery, Apollo Hospital.
Morbid obesity in the Indian context is roughly defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 32.5 and above, alongside other risk factors like BP and diabetes, or a BMI of 37.5 without any other lifestyle ailments.
Doctors say obesity often starts taking root during childhood and teen years when consumption of junk food and a reduction in outdoor sports and exercises becomes the routine.
Whitefield resident Snehdeep Ambarkar, who underwent a weight-loss surgery last year, says though he was always on the heavier side, it was during his teenage years when his weight ballooned out. Ambarkar not just ended up getting high BP and diabetes in the process, but being obese meant he could neither walk too much nor climb beyond level one.
“I realised being unable to climb stairs or walk even short distances without tiring out is not normal for someone my age,” says the 35 year old, who attributes work-related stress as another factor for having aggravated the condition.
Doctors say like Ambarkar, several individuals below the age of 45 years are rapidly getting on the heavier side owing to erratic work and eating schedules and sedentary lifestyle.
“Though it is mostly lifestyle patterns, a genetic disposition cannot be ruled out,” says Dr Misra.
Experts say children born to obese parents have 2.5 times more chances of being overweight.
Doctors say although diet control and regular exercises are key to bring weight under control, morbid obesity often requires surgical procedures to address the problem. Losing 8-12 kilograms, considered moderate weight loss, is possible by adhering to a diet and exercise plan.
“But for people with excess obesity, who have to lose 40-50 kilograms to lower their health risks, weight-loss surgeries are recommended alongside modifications in lifestyle,” says Misra.