Obesity is a condition that affects about one-third of the Australian adult population and an increasing number of children and adolescents. The intake of excess calories causes obesity. Many factors affect the risk of developing obesity such as genetics, metabolic rate, and the amount of exercise a person does. Living with obesity can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnoea, joint pain and even the development of certain types of cancers. A body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above is indicative of obesity.
Obesity can lead to a variety of health conditions and complications, including:
Type 2 Diabetes: Obesity is a significant risk factor for developing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Cardiovascular Diseases: Obese individuals have a higher likelihood of experiencing heart diseases, hypertension (high blood pressure), and stroke.
Joint Problems: The excess weight places increased stress on the joints, leading to conditions like osteoarthritis and a higher risk of needing joint replacements.
Respiratory Issues: Obesity can contribute to respiratory problems such as sleep apnoea and asthma.
Fatty Liver Disease: Excessive fat accumulation in the liver can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) now called metabolic dysfunction-associated steatotic liver disease (MASLD).
Mental Health Disorders: Obesity may be associated with depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.
One of the main causes of obesity is a high-calorie/low-nutrient diet and a lack of exercise. In Australia, the intake of highly caloric foods has increased over the recent decades as produced food now contains higher concentrations of carbohydrates and sugars. High-calorie intake combined with more sedentary lifestyles due to the changing nature of work, more urbanised environments and increased access to transport has spurred the obesity epidemic.
Other contributing factors to obesity include genetics, medical conditions such as hypothyroidism and lifestyle factors such as insufficient nutrition, sleep, and exercise.
It is difficult for people experiencing obesity to access the broad range of activities involved in everyday life. Sore joints, shortness of breath and fatigue hinder mobility and health.
Symptoms of obesity are caused by overabundance of fat deposits in the body which put pressure on organs and the cardiovascular system. Obesity increases the likelihood of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnoea, infertility, hernias, reflux, and headaches.
Different assessments are used to diagnose obesity:
Body Mass Index (BMI): It is a screening tool that calculates an individual’s weight in relation to their height. A BMI of 30 or above is indicative of obesity.
Waist Circumference: Measuring the waist size helps assess abdominal fat, which is linked to health risks.
Health History and Physical Examination: A comprehensive evaluation of medical history, family history, and physical symptoms.
Blood Tests: To assess cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, and liver function, which can be affected by obesity. Health professionals can also screen for vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Other Tests: In some cases, additional tests like a sleep study (for sleep apnoea) or imaging (for fatty liver disease) may be conducted.
A consultation with Dr Moar regarding weight loss surgery involves a detailed understanding of your experience of obesity and where you have encountered challenges with weight loss. A recommendation to undergo weight loss surgery will be arrived at after understanding your risk and experience of related diseases and conditions.