Twenty first century life style



Most of my consultation time to the patients in the clinic is spent on the lifestyle modification. One of the largest issues is overweight and obesity.


The medical diseases related with obesity are infinite including diabetes, heart disease, Stroke, high blood pressure, low thyroid levels, high cholesterol, Congestive heart failure, gall stones, arthritis, gout, fatty liver disease, sleep apnea and other respiratory problems, polycystic ovarian syndrome, infertility, complications during pregnancy, psychological disorders, kidney stones, urinary incontinence, delayed wound healing, Cancers of the kidney, uterus, breast, colon, esophagus, prostate and gall bladder, death.


Awareness of the overweight/obesity is an important first step to avoid or limit the excessive weight.  Everyone should find out if they are overweight or not by calculating body mass index (BMI). The BMI formula = (weight in pounds)*703/ (height in inches)2. The normal BMI is between 18 - 25. Overweight is between 25-29 and obesity is >30. Another way to check is to measure the waist circumference. For men, it should be less than 40 inches and for women is less than 35 inches.


Obesity is largely related to genetics and environmental factors. While we may not be able to alter the genetics, we can persistently and effectively work on the environmental factor by emphasizing on change of life style. Obesity is a disease that everyone should be aware of. Prevent it, treat it, control it before it affects your health.


Basics life style changes anyone should adopt are regular exercise, drink plenty of water, count calories consumption and limit it, avoid nervous eating and frequent snacks. At the same time it is essential to maintain regular interval eating habits with balanced meal. Daily calorie consumption for an average person is 1600 to 2200 calories depend on the one’s activity and metabolism. In order to reduce body weight, one should not only consume fewer calories than daily requirement but also need to burn the extra storage calories in body. 


The habit of counting calorie consumption is the key to long term success of staying lean and fit and still enjoying variety of food.  Some may not be aware that limiting drinking of regular soda, coffee, and tea alone may shed few pounds each week. Decreasing portions of each meal, drinking a glass of water prior to any meal, replacing high calorie snacks, avoiding haste-eating habit may help limit the excessive intake of the calorie. As this is the lifetime process and one should take steps at gradual pace to avoid rebound binge eating and excessive weight gain.  



Burning excess calories is another way to achieve successful weight maintenance. How do we burn calories? Any physical activity would do it. Running, jogging, swimming, water aerobics, walking, tennis, etc are great. Water aerobics is great for the arthritic patient.  Even daily activity at home, walking upstairs, getting up to get things, working in the backyard, walking in the mall etc. burn extra calories and keep you in constant active mode. Making these a habit will yield long term results. Remember adopting healthy lifestyle is a habit you will need for life. 


The next important factor involved in the central obesity (increasing waistline) is the living in stress. Certain hormones released during stress can cause central obesity. As our brains are always trainable to become accustomed to any form of habit, I would always like to advise my patient to get to desirable habits and to eliminate the undesirable habits. The key to success of this practice is persistence. Staying in stress is an individual choice, not a specific condition that was given to a specific person. Taking the stress and dwelling in it is not only physically unhealthy but also can develop into mental illness in the long run. If you find yourself in stressing about something, the best thing that you can do is to stop thinking about it. As we all know, self stressing is not problem solving.


Overall, the rise of obesity related diseases clearly indicates that everyone should emphasize on diet, exercise, and adopting a healthy lifestyle. Staying lean is achievable by most of us. Even morbid obesity with major genetic component can be treated with advanced less invasive surgical procedures. 


In brief, know your weight, know your BMI, don’t eat excess calories, adopt healthy life style, be active, be persistent, teach the same to others and support your family and friends in this battle against obesity. At last, know that obesity is unhealthy and is something you should discuss with your physician.