World Obesity Day 2020: Dr Muffazal Lakdawala opens up about its myths, mistakes, solutions and more

In an exclusive chat with Pinkvilla, Dr. Muffazal Lakdawala, Founder & Chief Surgeon at Digestive Health Institute by Dr. Muffi opened up on several topics include myths, weight loss surgeries and other solutions among others.
World Obesity Day 2020: Dr Muffazal Lakdawala opens up about its myths, mistakes, solutions and moreWorld Obesity Day 2020: Dr Muffazal Lakdawala opens up about its myths, mistakes, solutions and more
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People observe March 4 as World Obesity Day. The day aims to "lead and drive global efforts to reduce, prevent and treat obesity." For the unversed, the day was being observed on October 11, but now, it has been shifted to March 4. Did you know, as per WHO, the obesity rates have tripled since 1975 and have bolstered around five times among kids and adolescents? 

One should ideally curb the health disorder as the same can lead to type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, stroke and cancer among others. In an exclusive chat with Pinkvilla, Dr. Muffazal Lakdawala, Founder & Chief Surgeon at Digestive Health Institute by Dr. Muffi opened up on several topics include myths, weight loss surgeries among others.

1. Can you tell us the common and serial mistakes people make which raises the risk of obesity?

Lifestyle and behaviour are probably the 2 most important aspects that impact obesity. Mindless eating, binge eating or emotional eating result in the intake of unwanted calories. This could also be a result of our fast-paced lives where we do not take the time out to concentrate on our mealtimes. Other reasons are highly restrictive diets or fad diets that people go on to attain quick, unrealistic results. These diets are not sustainable in the long run and ultimately result in periods of binge eating.  

Sedentary lifestyle – lack of exercise/movement or long periods of sitting also aggravates obesity as there is less or no energy expenditure.
Lastly, irregular sleep patterns or lack of sleep cause havoc to the body's circadian rhythm and also cause an imbalance in hormones which makes it even more difficult to lose weight.

2. What are the health issues associated with obesity that many people don't know?

30 different types of cancers are associated with obesity. Obese individuals are at a higher risk of endometrial, esophageal, colorectal, breast cancer (to name a few) as compared to individuals in the normal weight range.

Sleep apnea is another serious health issue that is directly connected to obesity. Most people put it off as just another inconvenient sleeping issue, not realizing that it can actually be fatal. Significant weight loss can actually reverse this condition completely. 
Infertility in both obese men and obese women is another health issue that most people are unaware of. In males, obesity can affect the sperm count and testosterone levels and in females, hormonal imbalances and PCOD can lead to infertility.

3. Many obese people are okay being overweight? What is your advice for them?

Overweight and obesity are silent killers, it creeps up on you before you know it. People tend to ignore a few additional kilos because it hasn’t affected their day to day lifestyle or activity. They are able to walk, run, socialise and conduct their day to day business, so typically they don't give it a second thought until it starts affecting their routine life; however, being overweight is just one step shy of being obese, and sooner or later, one is riddled with multiple health issues like diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, mobility issues to name a few, and at that point, it might be all the more difficult to shed weight using conventional methods. 

4. Many people don't know that it is not just a cosmetic issue but a health disorder. 

The lack of knowledge about the health issues related to obesity could be one of the driving forces towards the notion that obesity is just a cosmetic disorder. WHO has now defined obesity as a disease and it is finally getting the attention it deserves. Obesity is not merely about how one looks or what clothes one can or cannot fit into - it is way more serious than that. It is one of the leading causes of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, non - alcoholic fatty liver, sleep apnea, etc. Psychologically it leads to depression and anxiety, stemming from body image issues. 

5. What are the simple life hacks which can help to prevent obesity?

Eat fresh, local food and restrict the intake of high-calorie sugary foods. Include local and seasonal produce and homemade foods instead of packaged/processed foods in your daily diet. 
Indulge in 30-45 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise at least 3-4 times a week. 
Practice mindful eating - avoid eating in front of the TV set or whilst on the phone/laptop/other electronic gadgets. 
Reduce screen time, increase your steps - take the stairs instead of the elevator, park your car a few meters away from your destination so you will walk more. 

6. How can one tackle obesity easily?

Diet and exercise along with lifestyle and behaviour modifications should be the first steps towards tackling obesity. If one fails to lose significant weight or is unable to lose weight at all with these conventional methods then bariatric surgery is an option that should be considered. Bariatric surgery is the only long-term solution for obesity, along with the resolution of its comorbidities. 
It is a viable solution for those that are struggling with weight loss and carrying more than 30 kgs of their ideal body weight or are above a BMI of 35. Bariatric surgery has also been known to help with remission of comorbid conditions such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and is also known to decrease the risk of cancer. 

7. What are the myths related to obesity and surgeries related to it?

People are often concerned that they will be unable to eat post-surgery and not enjoy an active life. In reality, one is able to eat everything within limitations and enjoy a meal with their friends and family as they did pre-opp. All forms of physical activity are allowed post-op, after a period of 3 months. In fact, patients are encouraged to take up exercise or sport as part of a healthy lifestyle. Many patients are concerned that surgery will be painful - in fact, it is exactly the opposite. Bariatric surgery is done laparoscopically and can even be done single incision (via the belly button) so it is scarless. Since the surgery is done laparoscopically, pain is minimal and patients are discharged with simple/mild pain on an SOS basis.

Diabetes patients with uncontrolled blood sugar are often concerned that they cannot do surgery. In fact, bariatric surgery is a boon to those who are struggling to get better control over their diabetes. It helps to get the disease in remission and reduce the number/dosage of medications or stop medications altogether. Another common myth is that women cannot conceive post-bariatric surgery - even though bariatric surgery is actually a treatment for infertility. Being obese causes hormonal imbalances and PCOD which in the long term can result in infertility. Being obese also puts the mother at the risk of gestational diabetes and hypertension, making it a high risk of pregnancy. Bariatric patients have had successful normal pregnancies post-surgery, with both mother and child being absolutely healthy. The only recommendation is to keep a gap of a year between surgery and conceiving.

8. How to know that if you are obese?
BMI - Body Mass Index is a simple formula to help decide what category one falls in. 
BMI - Weight (in kgs) / Height (in cms)2.
BMI less than 18.5 = Underweight 
18.5 - 22.9 = Normal Range 
23- 24.9 = Overweight 
25 - 29.9 = Pre - obese 
30 - 40 = Grade 1 obese 
40 - 50 = Grade 2 obese 
More than 50 = Grade 3 obese

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