Understanding – the Battle of the “BULGE”
Hi everyone… back after a long break.
I have often been asked that the blog dealing with the issues it does, has not yet touched upon an issue that every one of us tries to cope with at some point in our lives. You may ask what issue that is……. It is the issue of weight management.
I know each and every one of us (including me) at some point in our lives are fighting the “battle of the bulge”, hence I thought of putting down a few of my thoughts on the same from a personal point of view and from a health professional’s point of view.
Another reason for this delay in writing about this could be fact that notwithstanding the “magical guaranteed weight loss” adverts that I’m sure everybody has seen, this is a difficult issue deal with. Let me be a party pooper here by saying emphatically…there are no and I mean NO SHORT CUTS.
So let us see why this is such a big problem and what are some of the factors that play a role in weight gain. I would call it weight gain rather than obesity because the term obesity does not include overweight people by definition.
This brings us the fundamental question, when would one be called normal / overweight/ obese or morbidly obese? This classification is based on BMI or Body Mass Index, which is basically a product of a person’s bodyweight divided by a person’s height. A BMI of 18-25 is normal, 25-28 over weight, 28-35 obese and above 35 morbidly obese.
Why does one gain weight? This is a question the answer to which each and everyone wants to know, because if we know the answer to this, very easily we can avoid the causes thereby avoiding weight gain.
Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it?? Sadly it isn’t that simple.
But to take a common analogy that I give to my patients’ weight gain is like a bank balance, there are only to ways to increase your bank balance (weight) either you earn more (increased intake) or spend less (decreased output).
But sadly I’m sure all of us agree it’s easier to gain weight (except for the lucky few who have genetics on their side), than increase your bank balance. Now once we have the grass root level basic fundamental cause of weight gain let us examine a few reasons as to why and how it actually happens.
I’m sure we all have read enough and more about all this in all kinds of forums and media, let me just recapitulate a few of the reasons which most of us commonly face. I’m specifically not going too much into the technical details and trying to give you the gist of things. Secondly, I’m not touching upon certain medical conditions for weight gain, which I will briefly discuss during the course of the blog entry.
INCREASED INTAKE / WRONG INTAKE / IMPROPER INTAKE
As you can see from the heading, it is not only increased intake but also the intake of wrong kinds of food and improper intake, which also contributes to weight gain.
- Over eating: Though most of us tend not to agree to it, it is often the most common cause for weight gain. Every time you have that extra spoonful, it adds up in the long run. It is said that after a meal one should feel that he can have a little more…. that, is the time one should stop. But more often than not, we stop when we feel full and that is already too much.
- Fast food: Fast food is fast to make and convenient to eat can be eaten on the move but more often than not is full of fats/cheese & salt.
Anyone who has read science in school knows that fat has more calories (9Kcals/gm) as compared to protein (4Kcals/gm) or carbohydrates (4Kcals/gm). So, the more fats you eat the more calories you are putting in. Carbohydrates are easy to absorb and after your basic energy requirements are met, are converted to fat for storage.Chips – a favorite amongst most is another common cause. An old saying for them, which holds very true, is “ A minute on your lips & a lifetime on your hips”, hence avoid them.
Increased salt intake causes more water retention in the body and hence is also an important factor for weight gain.
- Improper timing: The time of a meal also is an important factor. Food should be eaten at least 2 hours before one goes to bed to allow digestion to occur properly. So, siesta’s after a heavy lunch or eating just before going to bed are not such good ideas after all.There is research also to suggest that, the later in the night one eats, the more chances are that all that food is being converted to fat. So, having “ a midnight snack or munchies” is again not such a great idea.
- Alcohol: Alcohol has often been blamed for gaining weight but the gain in weight is more related to the increased snacking, which goes along with consumption of alcohol.
- Fizzy Drinks: These are aerated drinks with empty calories, which are of no use and add up to the over all “Bank Balance of Calories”. Instead, substitute it with fresh fruits or fresh lime, which is much healthier but of course try and avoid excess salt or sugar in them.
This is now turning out to be an important part of the whole weight gain process, especially so in youngsters and children.
- 1.Sedentary lifestyles: Now with the comfort levels increasing, activity has reduced. We use the lifts instead of stairs, vacuum cleaners instead of brooms, cars instead of walking, etc. The amount of calories burnt per day is decreasing with more mental activity than physical.
Some amount of physical activity is needed daily to keep the Basal metabolic rate higher so that you can burn more calories. Of course though ideal, considering family and work pressures, it is understandable that a regular gymming schedule is not always possible.
But, one can incorporate small things into the daily schedule to increase the output like taking the stairs instead of the lift, walking to the nearby store instead of driving, morning or evening walks, etc which do not take up too much of your time but help in spending those calories.
- Children especially should have some regular physical activity in their daily schedule or we are going to be waking up to a generation of overweight youngsters. It is already happening in the west and is a major health hazard. We can see it happening around us in India too.
Real games instead of Video Games, fruits instead of chips or pizza & fruit juices instead of a fizzy drink should be the mantra for the kids.
MEDICAL CONDITIONS FOR WEIGHT GAIN:
There are a few medical conditions that can be a cause for weight gain. These are usually hormonal imbalances. The most common being:
- Hypothyroidism: Here there is a decreased secretion of “Thyroid Hormone” which is responsible to maintain the Basal Metabolic Rate and hence there is a tendency towards weight gain. This is a treatable condition and after proper tests to find out the hormonal levels, replacement of the hormones causes a reduction in weight.
- PCOD: Poly Cystic Ovarian Disease or PCOD is another condition associated with weight gain. Here again the hormonal imbalances cause weight gain and the weight gain in turn worsens the PCOD. Medical & surgical options are available for treatment of this condition. A curious thing seen here is that weight reduction helps with the gynecological condition with normalization of hormones.
- Adrenal Hormonal Imbalance:This also can cause weight gain because of water retention.
WEIGHT GAIN & DIETING
A lot has been written n said about dieting and weight loss. Every other person is an expert in some sort of a diet. But a recent study has brought the proper perspective, as I have been saying for quite some time now, its not what kind of a diet you follow but the total intake versus the total output.
So whether it’s a low carb diet, a low fat diet or an only protein diet, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is,the total amount of calories going in.
Crash Dieting is a not a way to loose weight at all. You might loose weight initially but you are loosing muscle bulk and replacing it with fat. And most of the food that one eats gets converted to fat directly because of the body’s survival mechanisms. Secondly, with crash dieting there is a tendency to alternate binging with crash dieting and this doesn’t help.
So, what one needs is a proper balanced diet according to the work he or she does, which has all the necessary nutrients.
I’m sure all of us have heard or read quite a bit on the treatment options. I’m not going to discuss exercise, lifestyle modification and diet control which are essential to all treatments as an adjunct.
For the ease of understanding, I will divide the treatment options according to the BMI.
BMI of 25-28(30) – Overweight Category:
This is the category for which we have the most number of options.
- Isometric Exercise/ Non Surgical Body Contouring –This is an option where in, with the help of targeted muscle stimulation & Infra red waves, isolated areas of the body are treated to achieve targeted contouring and inch loss. Here the patient comes in twice or thrice a week to the center, where the machine does the work for them and helps to achieve targeted contouring.Very good for people in whom muscle laxity is a cause for bad body contour especially in the tummy area. Also very good immediately post pregnancy to help reduce the flab and tighten the muscles which have become loose post pregnancy and child birth
- Ultrasonic Lipolysis: This involves breaking down the fat cells directly with the use of a non-invasive ultrasonic wave. The patient comes in once a month for the treatment, which lasts 45 mins to an hour. The released fat has to be reabsorbed and excreted by the body. It works well for small isolated areas like the saddlebags, lower tummy. This doesn’t work for large areas.
- Injection Lipolysis or MESOTHERAPY:This involves giving multiple injections in the target areas to help dissolve fat in that area. The injection is usually of a derivative of Soya protein, which helps the cell membranes of the fat cells to break down and release the fat into the body. This is absorbed by the body and excreted.It requires injections maybe once a month for 4 or 5 times. It works well if given properly and for small areas like the double chin or the saddlebags. Contrary to what people might claim it is not for large areas. Complications in the form or small injections abscess or collections of liquefied fat, which may require drainage, are occasionally seen.
- LASER Lipolysis: This is a minimally invasive procedure which involves insertion of a small LASER probe in the affected area help break down the fat cells in the track of the probe thereby releasing fat into the body which is reabsorbed and excreted. This is also an office procedure and requires multiple sittings maybe a month apart.Works well again for isolated areas like double chin, cheek fat, saddlebags, arms, etc. Large volume Lipolysis again is technically possible to a certain extent but not practical. The patient does need to use pressure garments, should have the patience to wait for the results for a few months and of course undergo multiple sittings.
- Liposuction: This is a surgical procedure where a cannula is inserted under the skin by small 1-1.5 cm incisions in hidden areas to suck out the fat. This again is a procedure for body contouring. Though one does loose weight, he will loose more in inchesThere are various techniques like the mechanical, ultrasonic, VASER, power assisted. All these are different methods of suction depending on the type of probe used to breakdown the fat cells.
As regards to the technique there is also the tumescent technique which is the preferred technique nowadays and basically involves infiltrating large volumes of saline along with some drugs to help minimize bleeding and trauma to other structures in the vicinity.
Liposuction can also be classified according to the volumes to be removed. Small, moderate or mega liposuction. Small volume suction can be done under local anesthesia. Moderate volumes can be done under local anesthesia with sedation or general anesthesia depending on the patient’s comfort level. Mega liposuctions require anesthesia, hospitalizations and in some rare instances blood transfusions.
Internationally, the accepted volumes of fat that can be safely sucked out at one sitting is @ 8% of body weight in men and @ 9-10% of body weight in women. This is because of the fact that men tend to have an equal amount of fat inside the abdomen, whereas in women most of the fat is extra abdominal and also the fat that men have more fibrous fatty deposits. Hence, women are good candidates for liposuction.
Problems after liposuction are because of the swelling. Here as the fat is physically being sucked out, the effects are noticed immediately, but in a few days swelling sets in and takes around a month before significant changes can be felt. This also depends on the areas targeted and the amount removed. Full healing takes around 3-4 months and during this period the patient needs to wear a pressure garment to help the skin shrink. Some amount of unevenness maybe present which gradually settles with time and massages.
Rarely in smokers, there maybe areas of skin necrosis. Sometimes especially with large volume liposuction, there maybe some collection of fluid called seroma’s which might require drainage.
BMI of 30-35 – Obese Category:
This category is the so-called “Grey Zone” of weight loss treatments. As these patients are not yet candidates for a Bariatric procedure and the procedures for the overweight category cannot fully help in treating these patients. But increasingly we are seeing patients in this category.
In these patients it has to be a combination of procedures and sometimes multiple sittings are needed to get the desired changes.
More often than not we do large volume liposuction in such cases, maybe one or two sittings with a gap of 6 months in between combined with a proper diet and exercise schedule. The procedure of Liposuction has already been discussed.
BMI of 35 and more – Morbidly obese Category:
These patients have other metabolic problems along with the fact that they are overweight. These are candidates for Bariatric procedures that are procedures aimed at reducing the intake drastically (Gastric banding or Sleeve gastrectomy) or reducing absorption of food (Gastric & Duodenal bypass procedures).
These are major surgeries and have to be done in specialized centers and involve a multidisciplinary approach with the involvement of plastic surgeon, gastroenterologist, psychiatrist, dietician, physical therapists, anesthetists, etc. This itself is a topic by itself.
The aim of this blog was to try and bring things into perspective for a person looking at weight loss or to just get in shape. Ultimately, “ a Stitch in time does save Nine”! So the earlier we wake up to the fact that weight is becoming a problem to all of us, the better it is. If not to reduce, at least try and modify our lifestyle and being about some changes in how we do things, it might help prevent the problem from becoming worse, where a much more drastic and major procedure might be required.
As you must have seen in the course of the blog that, this is not a simple topic and I have not even scraped the surface of the problem. But, the aim is to try and simplify things so one can understand what are the little things we can do to bring about a bigger change.
Whatever said and done, all the procedures are only an adjunct to lifestyle modification to get the full benefits in the long run. Change in dietary habits, maintaining a negative intake output balance, increasing physical activity will all go a long way in helping one keep fit and stay healthy.
So let us bring about the change… by being the change!!!!
So here’s to a new, fit, healthy, better looking you..!!!