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How to Treat Obesity

Por Mercedes Roig* -

Obesity is a deadly disease. Left untreated, it can lead to serious health problems or even death. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just overeating that contributes to obesity.

This metabolic disease, severe or not, occurs frequently, especially in certain stages of our lives. There are many factors that contribute to the cause and development of obesity. This means each individual requires personalized treatment and care.

Obesity is the most common metabolic illness in the Western world. It has caused rising mortality rates in developed countries and in many developing countries as well. The main causes of death among obese people include heart disease, strokes and diabetes. In fact, these risk factors are closely linked to an excess of adipose tissue (tissue formed by fat cells), and more specifically, to the particular distribution of adipose tissue in the body. The distribution of body fat in overweight people is a better indicator of their risk of ischemic cardiomyopathy (heart disorders caused by insufficient oxygen reaching the heart muscles) than their total amount of body fat.

Fat distribution in an individual is linked to the risk of dying from cardiovascular problems caused by the hardening of the arteries (formation of plaques under the internal layer of the arterial wall). Measuring someone’s total body fat and the fat distribution in their body is key for determining someone’s cardiovascular risk status.

How much should you weigh?

The Body Mass Index (BMI) represents the simplest, most widely accepted definition of ideal weight. To calculate it, divide your weight (in pounds) by the square of your height (in inches). Interpret the results according to the following parameters:

  • 20-25: normal weight
  • 25-30: overweight
  • 30-35: obesity type 1
  • 35-40: obesity type 2
  • 40: obesity type 3 or morbid obesity (a situation both physically and mentally pathological or abnormal)

Significant obesity shortens life expectancy, and your age is important when trying to lose weight since your metabolism slows down as you age. Between the ages of 20 and 40, your metabolism works without any problem (as long as you have no underlying health problems), but excessive fat consumption and inadequate exercise can lead to weight gain. After 40, fat-eliminating hormones like thyroxin are essential for preventing the accumulation of fat. Also, the decline in sexual hormones produces weight gain. An excess of 100 calories a day can make you put on 11 pounds in a year!

Understand these 3 essential facts about your body’s relationship with calories:

  • Eating stimulates your metabolism. The energy used to digest food burns up 10% of your total calorie intake in one day.
  • Aerobic activities like walking or bike riding speed up the combustion of fats, not only while exercising but also for several hours afterward. 
  • Muscle cells consume more calories than fat cells. A pound of muscle tissue uses 30 calories a day more than the same amount of fat tissue.
  • Metabolism slows down with drastic cuts in calorie consumption. In the long run, this kind of dieting approach tends to reduce muscle mass.


Over half the population is overweight and consequently faces the risk of suffering various complications from:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart problems
  • Certain cancers (colon and breast cancer)
  • Psychological problems

Remember that obesity comes in many forms, and that you can’t pinpoint a single cause of obesity because various circumstances influence its development. Each case is a result of different upsets or imbalances and each obese person should receive personalized treatment.


Individualized obesity treatments should consider issues like a family history of heart problems, diabetes, or high blood pressure. It should also consider the distribution of adipose tissue (tissue formed by fat cells) and each individual’s genetic predisposition. Everyone needs a satisfying, varied, attractive diet supervised by a healthcare specialist in the field.

Keep in mind the following recommendations:

  • Eat all kinds of food.
  • Don’t overeat. Eating 200 excess calories a day causes you to gain more weight than bingeing occasionally.
  • Exercise.
  • Eat at least five small meals a day. Avoid prolonged fasting.
  • Drink at least eight glasses of water a day.
  • Learn to eat healthy.

* By Mercedes Roig. Endocrinology Service. Instituto Universitario Dexeus , Barcelona, Spain
Contributor for DrTango, Inc., Barcelona, Spain


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