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Monday, July 29, 2013

Obesity: The Pandemic

Obesity is defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health.

Body mass index (BMI) is a simple index of weight-for-height that is commonly used to classify overweight and obesity in adults. It is defined as a person's weight in kilograms divided by the square of his height in meters (kg/m2).

The WHO definition is:

a BMI greater than or equal to 25 is overweight
a BMI greater than or equal to 30 is obesity.

Obesity is a major public health problem in the world. Two thirds of adults in the  US are overweight, and one third are obese. Being obese increases the risk for other diseases: high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, and even some cancers.

The American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates has in June 2013 redefined Obesity from a major public health problem to a Disease. After much debate, the majority ruled that obesity is a disease state with multiple pathophysiologic aspects requiring a range of interventions to advance obesity treatment and prevention. 

This has now given an entirely different perception to this potentially hazardous malady. 


The two sides of the coin

  • Here's the downside of calling obesity a disease. Some worry that this would medicalize obesity and intensify reliance on drugs and surgical treatments rather than relying on diet and exercise to attain a healthy weight. Another concern is that calling obesity a disease could alienate some obese individuals, especially if the emphasis is on achieving ideal weight rather than focusing on healthy eating and increasing physical activity. 
The Body mass index (BMI), that obesity is defined on the basis of, has many limitations. It was originally designed as a research tool: a rough population-level indicator. It's not a great way of measuring body fatness. Some people with a BMI in the so called "normal" range can have too much body fat, as well as metabolic problems. Some with BMIs over 30 kg/m2 -- the so-called obese range -- have plenty of muscle and no excess fat . Some with high BMIs are normal metabolically and also have normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

The BMI defines size, not health. 

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute is now working on new guidelines on overweight and obesity in adults. 

  • Here's the pro side. Calling obesity a disease could mean greater investments by the government and the private sector: more research into causes, triggers, and treatments, including more US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drugs for treatment. Another benefit of making obesity a disease is that it could make it harder for third-party payers to deny coverage.

Obesity paradox: 

A collection of studies suggests that BMIs in the overweight or obese range may have protective effects on mortality risk. 
Experts have suggested that body fat may play a protective role, perhaps in secreting certain beneficial cytokines and hormones. Extra body fat also means extra padding and thus a physical protective barrier from traumatic injuries. In times of illnesses, the additional caloric reserve may give patients more nutritional backup in the healing process. 

However, the ill effects of the excess fat are too pronounced to be ignored. 

The most important advanced technology with which to fight obesity is the bathroom scale, used every day. Don't let that number rise. 

Obesity, after being categorized as a disease, we can now expect that the development of gray hair or the aging process- Senility, to be the next condition considered as a disease.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Use it or Lose it

What does this phrase imply? 

It means that if you don't continue to practice or use an ability, you might lose the ability. For example, if a person doesn't exercise his or her physical body, he or she will likely lose strength, endurance, and stamina. Similarly, if a person doesn't practice a new skill, such as driving a car or speaking a foreign language, he or she may forget or lose that skill. 

Jean Baptiste Lamarck, a French scientist, proposed that species change because of the use or disuse of features, such as tails or arms. He purported the “use it or lose it” idea. He believed that excessive use of a feature would cause it to grow and lack of use would invite atrophy. 

Let us thus, use this principle to have a positive bearing on the society and impart some quality of life enhancing tips to our elderly population. 

"Erections make erections". Sex is not unlike sports. If you want to be a good tennis player, play lots of tennis; if you want to be a good lover, make lots of love.

The American Journal of Medicine reports that older men who have sex more than once a week are less likely to develop Erectile dysfunction.  

Why does having more sex keep the male organ in trim instead of wearing it out? The likely elixir is oxygen here. 

Coming to a different sort of exercise for the seniors. 

Brief sessions of exercise for the aging brain like crossword puzzles and reading can have long-lasting benefits for elderly people, helping them stay mentally fit for at least five years. 

Retirement may not be good for your brain, according to a new study from France, which links older age at retirement to a reduced risk of developing dementia.

Mounting evidence suggests that engaging in intellectually stimulating activity throughout life may protect against the development of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. 

"So if you are old and you are not contributing...maybe there is some penalty attached to that..., encourage older people, not just to be a negative burden on the State but to actually be a positive part of the Society."