WHAT IS OBESITY?
Any weight that is higher than normal body weight, caused by excessive fat tissue and an increase in fat cell size and number, is described as either being overweight or being obese (1). In order determine if a person is obese, the World Health Organization (WHO) uses a screening tool called the Body Mass Index (BMI) which divides a person's weight in kilograms by the square of their height in meters (2,3). The score is then compared to the BMI chart and categorized. A person is considered overweight if their BMI is ≥25 or obese if their BMI is ≥30 (4).
Obesity can lead to the prevalence of other noncommunicable, chronic diseases including: type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, cardiovascular disease (CVD), various forms of obesity-related cancers, insulin resistance, gallstones, respiratory system problem like asthma and sleep apnea, fatty liver, osteoarthritis, and gout (1,2,4,5,6,7).
RISK FACTORS OF OBESITY
The two main risk factors that contribute to obesity is individual behavior and environmental factors. Some literature suggests that genetics might also contribute to obesity, but results are inconclusive (4,7,9).
- In terms of individual behavior, well-known predictors of obesity include overeating, low levels of physical activity, high baseline BMI, and pre-existing medical conditions. High blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, or high blood sugar levels are all warning signs of some obesity-associated diseases. Other predictors of obesity can be how an individual is shaped (2).
- In terms of environmental factors, an individual’s culture, access to education, food marketing, and promotion and opportunity to engage in physical activity are all factors that contribute to obesity (7,8).
- Childhood obesity is also a predictor of becoming obese as an adult.
SYMPTOMS OF OBESITY
- Increased sweating
- Inability to cope with sudden physical activity
OBESITY FACTS AND STATISTICS
Over the last few decades, the prevalence of obesity has increased significantly and has now become a major health problem in developed countries and a growing one in the developing world (1).
- In 2015-2016, the prevalence of obesity was 39.8% and affected about 93.3 million of U.S. adults (7).
- In the United States, during 2015-2016, the prevalence of childhood obesity was 18.5% and affected about 13.7 million children and adolescents. Childhood obesity is also more common among certain populations with Hispanics (25.8%) and non-Hispanic blacks (22.0%) having a higher obesity prevalence than non-Hispanic whites (14.1%) and non-Hispanic Asians (11.0%) (7).
- People with a family history of chronic diseases are more likely to develop these problems if they are obese (8).
- The prevalence of obesity decreases as the level of education in people increases (7).
MEDICAL TREATMENT OF OBESITY
Pharmacologic treatment and therapy are used to supplement lifestyle changes to enable weight loss and prevent weight regain, however, it is not an appropriate solution for everyone. Current criteria for the use of pharmacologic therapy for obesity include a BMI above 30 or a BMI above 27 in the presence of coexisting conditions (4).
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved the following drugs for treatment:
Sibutramine: a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor that reduces appetite.
- Common side effects include hypertension and tachycardia (11)
Phentermine diethylpropion: a stimulant that enhances the release of the chemical norepinephrine to reduce food intake.
- Side effects included palpitations, tachycardia, elevation of blood pressure, central nervous system effects, and gastrointestinal effects. Blood pressure should be monitored closely for participants with prehypertension or are being treated for hypertension. It is usually not the first choice to treat weight loss and has been approved for short term use only (10).
Orlistat: a triacylglycerol lipase inhibitor that reduces the amount of fat absorbed by the body (12).
- Side effects may include oily spotting, gas with discharge, and diarrhea (13).
NATURAL WAYS TO SUPPORT A HEALTHY WEIGHT
Practices to Support a Healthy Weight:
- Early Intervention (7)
- Physical Activity (4)
- Behavioral Modification (14)
Natural Supplements that Support a Healthy Weight:
- African mango (15)
- Aloe Vera (16)
- Alpha-Lipoic acid (17,18,19)
- Beta-glucans (15)
- Black wattle (Acacia mollissima) (20)
- Blond Psyllium (21,22,23,24)
- Blueberry (Vaccinium ashei) (20)
- Caffeine (25,26,27,28,29,30,31)
- Calcium (32,33,34,35,36)
- Capsaicin (15,37)
- Caralluma fimbriata (15)
- Chili pepper (Capsicum annuum) (20)
- Coffee (Coffea Arabica) (20)
- Coleus forskohlii (38)
- Conjugated linoleic acid (38,39,40,41,42,43,44,45)
- Coptis Root (Rhizoma coptidis) (20)
- Fucoxanthin (15)
- Garcinia cambogia(15)
- Ginger (Zingiber officinale) (20)
- Green coffee bean extract (15)
- Guar gum (15)
- Maté tea (Ilex paraguariensis) (20)
- Mulberry (Morus australis) (20)
- Phaseolus vulgaris (Red kidney beans) (15)
- Probiotics (15)
- Pyruvate (15)
- Soybean (Glycine max) (20)
- Turmeric (Curcuma longa) (20)
- Vitamin D (15)
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- Wadden TA, Berkowitz RI, Womble LG, et al. Randomized Trial of Lifestyle Modification and Pharmacotherapy for Obesity. N Engl J Med. 2005;353(20):2111-2120. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa050156
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