The prevalence of obesity is increasing at an alarming pace across the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that by the year 2015 there will be 2.3 million adults worldwide who will be overweight and more than 700 million will be obese. In the US, obesity has doubled in its prevalence in adults aged 20-74 between 1980 and 2010. Presently about 35% of US adults are estimated to be obese and another third overweight.
For a long time obesity was not considered by medical community as a significant medical condition. It is now considered as a disease by NIH (National Institutes of Health), WHO, FDA (Food and Drug Administration), AMA (American Medical Association), The Obesity Society (TOS), American Association of Clinical Endocrinology (AACE), Endocrine Society, American College of Cardiology and several other medical societies and associations.
Obesity has been associated with over 25 medical conditions. In other words obesity increases risk of developing other health problems such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), dyslipidemia (abnormal cholesterol panel), heart disease, degenerative arthritis (osteoarthritis), sleep apnea, gall bladder disease, acid reflux, infertility, fatty liver, breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, polycystic ovary syndrome etc. Excess body weight may sometimes be due to another medical condition such as Cushing’s syndrome, hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), lipodystrophies etc.
Even modest weight loss of 3-5% in these individuals has been shown to provide various metabolic benefits including lowering of blood sugars, blood pressure and improvement in cholesterol panel. Other potential benefits include improvements in sleep apnea, sexual function, mobility, mood etc. The American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology, and The Obesity Society all recommend that lifestyle modifications (dietary changes and increasing physical activity) as the backbone of treatment for obesity. For those needing additional help, today there are medication options and surgical options that are FDA approved.