Obesity weighs heavy on other ailments

MUMBAI: It’s common to see a pot-bellied bread-winner, pear-shaped homemaker and an overweight adolescent sitting in front of the television, surrounded by packets of crisps and pizzas. But it is also an indicator of how obesity has crept into the lives of Mumbaikars.

Obesity is more than a major lifestyle problem, its co-morbidities (associated but unrelated pathological or disease processes) make it one of the leading health problems of modern times. From diabetes to heart troubles, blood pressure and even cancer, there is hardly any non-communicable disease that is not a byproduct of obesity.

According to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation statistics, heart ailments and attacks top the diseases that kill Mumbaikars each year. Cancer and diabetes are among the top 10 diseases that cause fatalities. Since obesity is a leading cause of these problems, it is the obesity indirectly that is killing most Mumbaikars each year.

The worst problem, say doctors, is heart ailments/attacks. Statistics show that heart disease is the number one killer in Mumbai as well as across the country. “The main reason why there is an increase in the number of heart ailments is a sedentary lifestyle,” said N O Bansal, head of cardiology, JJ Hospital. “The body is like a bank. The more you put in the bank and the less you remove, the more the balance increases. Since there is more calorie intake and fewer workouts, fat in the body accumulates over time. What’s worse, it causes trouble in the most sensitive area of the body-the heart,” Dr Bansal added.

Dr Rama Vaidya, reproductive endocrinologist, Kasturba Health Society’s medical research centre, Vile Parle, which had conducted a study on obesity in schools, said, “The creation of an obeso-genic environment is a concern, particularly for young girls who undergo the physiological transition to enter puberty and may have a tendency to gain weight.” She says junk food, irregular food intake, lack of exercise and sleep deficiency are the main culprits.

Doctors believe that the festive season adds to people’s fat intake. “Under the guise of religion and festivities, people eat richer food. Since it is monsoon season, people get an excuse to skip exercise. It adds up to the slow procedure of adding fat to the body,” said Dr Hemant Thacker, a physician.

The worst trouble that comes as a package deal is ‘diabesity’, he says. According to diabetologists, 80% diabetics are obese. “These statistics point towards the main reason behind the increase in the number of diabetics,” said Dr Muffazal Lakdawala, obesity surgeon, LH Hiranandani Hospital.

It’s not just heart diseases or diabetes that are byproducts of obesity, but even morbidities like cancer that can be caused by it. “At least 20% of cancers in women (including breast and uterus) are due to obesity, while it is 10% for males. We also get many cases of infertility due to obesity. Sleep apnea (disorder characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing) among the obese is not uncommon either,” Dr Lakdawala said.