The incidence of obesity is exploding today thanks to our easy and unhealthy life style. Rapid urbanisation seems to be at the root of the problem (encouraging fast food culture which are usually energy dense and also a sedentary life style). The estimates show that the incidence could be upwards of 50 % in our society.
Obese people are at risk of developing lifestyle disorders like diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol abnormalities. These cumulatively increases the risk death from cardiovascular disease (angina, heart attacks, heart failure)
There is a strong genetic or familial element in obesity. There is always a history of a first or secondary degree relative struggling with obesity. Obesity is also associated with a family history of other life style disease like diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol abnormalities.
Obesity occurs because of many reasons. The main reasons are a) Genetic/ Familial b) mismatch between caloric intake ( increased food intake) and calories burnt ( less of physical activity and exercise). Certain hormonal conditions like Hypothyroidism and Cushing’s Syndrome can cause obesity. Certain drugs( mostly used in psychiatry and in the management of diabetes) can also result in obesity.
It is all depends on the body mass index (BMI) of the individual. If the individual according to his or her BMI has mild to moderate obesity, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and lifestyle modification (LSM) with diet and exercise in initiated. The patient is reviewed after 3 months and if no weight loss is noticed, pharmacotherapy is initiated to help the individual lose weight.
Obese people whose BMI is over 33 ( among Asians or 35 in Caucasians) with one or more conditions like diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease, arthritis of the knees, Obstructive sleep apnoea (snoring at night) are candidates for this surgery.
Endocrinologists who specializes in the medical treatment of obesity and the science behind it are called Bariatric Physicians.
A surgeon who specialise in doing Weight loss/ Bariatric surgery (almost always done as a laparoscopic/ key hole surgery) is called a Bariatric Surgeon.