Obesity – symptoms, causes and treatment
Obesity may be described as a bodily condition characterised by excessive deposition or storage of fat in adipose tissue. It usually results from consumption of food in excess of physiological needs. Obesity is common among people in Western countries and among the higher income groups in India and other developing countries.
Obesity can occur at any age in either sex. Its incidence is higher inpersons who consume more food and lead sedentary leaves. Among women, obesity is liable to occur after pregnancy and at menopause. A woman usually gains about 12 kgs. 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 more and retain part of this weight. They become progressively obese with each succeeding child.
Obesity is a serious health hazard as the extra fats puts a strain on the heart, kidneys and liver as well as the large weight-bearing joints such as the hips, knees and ankles, which ultimately shortens the life span. It has been truly said, ‘ the longer the belt, the short the life. ‘ Overweight persons are susceptible to several diseases like coronary thrombosis, heart failure, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, gout and liver and gall-bladder disorders.
The chief cause of obesity , most often, is overeating – that is, the intake of calories beyond the body’s energy requirement. Some people are habituated to eating too much while others may be in the habit of consuming high-calorie foods. These people gain weight continuously as they fail to adjust their appetite to reduce energy requirements. There has, in recent times, been an increase in awareness of psychological aspects of obesity. Persons who are generally bored , unhappy, lonely or unloved, those who are discontented with their families, or social or financial standing usually tend to overeat as eating is a pleasure and solace to them.
Obesity is sometimes also the result of disturbances of the thyroid or pituitary glands. But glandular disorders account for only about two per cent of the total incidence of obesity. In such persons, the basal metabolism rate is low and they keep gaining weight unless they take a low-calorie diet.
A suitably 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. The chief consideration in this treatment should be the balanced selection of foods which provide the maximum essential nutrients with the least number of calories.
To begin with, the patient should undertake a juice fast for seven to ten days. Juices of lemon, grape fruit, orange, pineapple, cabbage, celery, may be taken during this period. Long juice fast upto 40 days can also be undertaken, but only under expert guidance and supervision. In the alternative, short juice fasts should be repeated at regular intervals of two months or so till the desired reduction in weight is achieved.
After the juice fast, the patient should spend a further four or five days on an all-fruit diet, taking three meals of fresh juicy fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, pineapple and papaya. Thereafter, he may gradually embark upon a low-calorie well- balanced diet of three basic food groups, namely (i) seeds, nuts and grains , (ii) vegetables and (iii)fruits, with emphasis on raw fruits,vegetables, and fresh juices.
The foods which should be drastically curtailed or altogether avoided are high-fat foods such as butter, cheese, chocolates, cream, ice-cream, fat meats, fried foods, and gravies ; high carbohydrated foods like bread, candy, cake, cookies, cereal products, legumes, potatoes, honey, sugar, syrup and rich puddings beverages such as all-fountain drinks and alcoholic drinks.
One sure method of reducing weight is by practicising what is known as “Fletcherism”. It was discovered in 1898 by Horace Fletcher of the U.S.A.. Fletlcher, at 40, considered himself an old man. He was 50 pounds overweight, contracted flu every six months and constantly complained of indigestion and a tired feeling. After a deep study, he made some important discoveries and prescribed the rules for “Fletcherism” which are as follows :
1. Chew your food to a pulp or milky liquid until it practically swallows itself.
2. Never eat until hungry.
3. Enjoy every bite or morsel, savouring the flavour until it is swallowed.
4. Do not eat when tired, angry, worried, and at meal-time refuse to think or talk about unpleasant subjects.
Horace Fletcher followed these rules for five months. As a result he lost more than 60 pounds and felt better than he had for 20 years. A weight reducing programme built on Fletcherism works wonders and is worth a trial. Ingestion of honey is an excellent home remedy for obesity. It mobilises the extra deposited fat in the body and puts it into circulation which is utilised as energy for normal functions. One should start with small quantity of about 10 grams to be taken with hot water. The dose can be gradually increased.
Fasting on honey -lime juice water is highly beneficial in the treatment of obesity without the loss of energy and appetite. In this mode of treatment, one spoon of fresh honey should be mixed with a juice of half a lime in a glass of lukewarm water and taken at regularly intervals.
Another effective remedy for obesity is an exclusive lemon juice diet. On the first day the patient should be given nothing but plenty of water. On the second day juice of three lemons mixed with equal amount of water should be given. One lemon should be subsequently increased each day until the juice of 12 lemons is consumed per day. Then the number of lemons should be decreased in the same order until three lemons are taken in a day. The patient may feel weak and hungry on the first two days, but afterwards the condition will be stabilised by itself.
Cabbage is considered to be an effective home remedy for obesity. Recent research has discovered in this vegetable a valuable content called tartroric acid which inhibits the conversion of sugar and other carbohydrates into fat. Hence, it is of great value in weight reduction. A helping of cabbage salad would be the simplest way to stay slim, a painless way of dieting.
A hundred grams of cabbage yields only 27 kilo calories of energy while the same quantity of wheat bread will yield about 240 calories. Cabbage is found to possess the maximum biological value with minimum calorific value. Moreover, it gives a lasting feeling of fullness in the stomach and is easily digestible.
Along with dietetic treatment, the patient should adopt all other natural methods of reducing weight. Exercise is an important part of weight reduction plan. It helps to use up calories stored in body fat and relieves tension, besides toning up the muscles of the body. Walking is the best exercise to begin with and may be followed by running, swimming, rowing and other outdoor sports.
Certain yogi asanas are highly beneficial. Not only do they break up or re-distribute fatty deposits and help slimming, but they also strengthen the flabby areas. Sarvangasana, halasana, bhujangasana, shalabhasana, dhanurasana, chakrasana, naukasana, ardh-matsyendrasana, paschimottanasana, vajrasana, yogamudra and trikonasana are recommended. These asanas work on the glands, improve circulation, strengthen many weak areas and induce deep breathing which helps to melt off excess fat gradually. Yogic kriyas like kunjal and jalneti and
pranayamas such as kapalbhati and bhastrika are also helpful in normalising body weight. The patient should also adopt measures which bring on excessive perspiration such as sauna baths, steam bath and heavy massage. They help to reduce weight. Above all, obese persons should make every effort to avoid negative motions such as anxiety, fear, hostility and insecurity and develop a positive outlook on life.