OBESITY – A CONDITION OR A DISEASE

There is a great debate in the medical field on this topic. Dieticians and doctors would usually call obese people, who visit them, as “my patients” – rather than “my clients”. Are they really patients or not?
From Saaol point of view, they can be considered as patients when their body weight is very high or when they report to the doctors for complications of obesity. Let us now consider what weight can be considered as “very high” and what may be the complications that obesity results in.

Weight of a person mainly depends on the height. If the height is more, the weight will also be more. Different kinds of charts are available to know the ideal body weight – which varies from country to country, race to race. For the males and for the females the charts vary. They also allow the weight for a particular range – which also varies. Then there may be charts for the small, medium and large frame people. This not only confuses people, but many obese persons only try to follow the charts where he has a big range.
Saaol would like people to follow one simple and the most scientifically approved formula – which is called the Body Mass Index (BMI). This is a single formula and do not need a chart. Only one has to know his or her weight in kilograms, height in meters or centimeters and use a simple calculator to know your BMI.
It can be calculated as the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters.

Body Mass Index = Weight in Kg / (Height in Mt) ²

How Obesity Develops?

Human body is a machine, something like a car whose engine cannot be switched off. The heart will beat, the lungs will expand and recoil, the blood will continuously flow, and the intestines will keep on moving the food forward – digesting the food, the kidneys will keep on filtering continuously. If you want to move your hands and legs – where most of the muscles are situated – many more muscle cells would start working. All these activities need energy – like our car needs (in the form of petrol). This energy comes from the food that we eat.
Now, how much energy does our body need per day? The unit of this energy is calorie (more scientifically we call it kilo calorie). If we do not use our body muscles to a great degree (which means we only sit and sleep) our body needs about 1000 to 1200 calories in 24 hours. A little activity (equal to a sedentary person) will need about 1600 calories. A manual labourer – who has to keep on moving most of his hand and leg muscles – needs about 3000 calories.

For this energy we need food. Our stomach and intestine will digest this food – the broken particles will go to the blood after absorption, every cell of our body will get them from the blood and produce energy in their power houses called mitochondria. Billions of our cells can be fed with this 1600 odd calorie food for the whole day. If we consume foods worth more calories – the extra calories will be converted into fat and stored in our cells – especially our fat cells, which now increase in number and size. On the other hand, if we do not eat anything for the whole day, these stored fats will be utilized to mobilize these 1600 calories, which our body needs throughout the day.

This is the basic and simple concept of weight gain and loss. It is something like putting petrol in our car. If our car consumes about 10 liters of petrol and we put 10 liters in the car daily the storage will remain as it is. But if we keep on putting 15 liters per day, the fuel tank will first fill up and after a few days it will start overflowing. Same concept applies with our body – if we need 1600 calories and eat food worth 1600 calories the body weight will remain same. But if we put 2000 calories worth food in our body, our body will have to store these extra four hundred calories in our fat cells. It is something like our body’s fuel tank is stretchable – it will not waste the calories but will expand the storage area or capacity all over the body. The fat cells will increase in size and number to accommodate these extra calories. If intake of these extra calories goes on – soon there is a substantial storage of fats and the result is obesity.