Obesity in Adults - Obesity Surgery Guide

Here in the UK, we have been listed at the top of a national Health Profile as having the highest rate of obesity in Europe.  In 2010 nearly one in four adults will be obese.  If things carry on as they have done then by 2050 we are looking at nine out of ten adults being overweight or obese.  And nearly two thirds of children will be the same.  Currently 17% of men and 21% of women are obese.

These are all pretty frightening statistics.  They sound scary but it is important to bear in mind that they are a prediction only.  If measures are put into place which tackles this problem then these figures will reduce.

This is the bigger picture: on a smaller scale obesity is responsible for a whole range of major diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, hypertension, strokes, osteoarthritis, skin complaints and gall bladder disease. 

That's the physical consequences: the psychological ones include depression, anxiety, self-harm, alienation and lack of confidence and self-esteem. 

There is the cost to the NHS; obesity places a huge burden on the NHS due to the increase in obesity related conditions such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and osteoarthritis.  And linked to this is the cost to businesses of lost productivity due to higher levels of sick leave by obese employees.  Being overweight does not mean that you are likely to have more time off sick than a slimmer colleague.  But being obese can mean that you are more prone to certain health conditions which can result in you taking time off work.

Obesity can cause cancer: cancer research experts have predicted that the country faces a rapid rise in the number of cases of cancer such as prostate, breast and pancreatic cancers.  This risk can be reduced however if the excess weight is lost.

Another problem is that of obesity and children.  Children are becoming increasingly heavier and this combined with the availability of ‘fast food' and less exercise means that they are storing up problems for the future.  It has been predicted that we are looking at a situation in which parents might outlive this current generation.

What you will also find is that society in general, is intolerant of overweight and/or obese people.  As we have already mentioned it is a medical condition and as such deserves treatment, sympathy and understanding.  Unfortunately that is not always the case.  There is a stigma attached to being overweight or obese.  People who suffer from chronic weight problems are made fun of (especially if they are children).  They are stereotyped, portrayed as a figure of fun or are despised for their appearance.

These attitudes are present in the media, advertising, and even the government has joined in by discussing the need for a ‘fat tax'. 

Obesity is a problem that does need to be addressed but in a constructive manner. 

Physiological Issues

Obesity can increase your risk of the following:

  • Heart disease
  • Strokes
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Cancer
  • Respiratory problems
  • Sleep apnoea (stopping breathing whilst asleep)
  • Gall bladder disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Low back pain
  • Arthritis
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Gout
  • Kidney failure
  • Skin conditions

This does not mean that you will automatically suffer from one of these illnesses.  What it does mean that you have an increased risk of developing one of these as a result of excess weight. 

And, many of these illnesses are chronic long term or even permanent diseases.

Apart from these, there are also the day to day realities of chronic weight problems.  If you are carrying a large amount of excess weight then you will find it harder to do your normal everyday tasks.  Walking up and down stairs will be much harder and you will find yourself quickly out of breath.  

You will find that you are often tired or lethargic.  Walking in general can put a strain on your joints and you may find that your knees and hips ache. 

Being overweight or obese can affect your physical health but it can also affect you mentally as well.

Psychological Issues

If you are suffering from chronic weight problems then you may find that you have a lack of self-confidence.  Your self-esteem is also affected and you may be extremely conscious about your appearance.

What tends to happen is that many obese people wear baggy clothing in an attempt to hide their shape or because they feel
self-conscious about themselves.  They may feel ashamed or disgusted about their bodies and may also tend to put themselves down a lot.  They will also avoid any situation which requires them to display their bodies.

There is a stereotype about fat people being jolly and outgoing but very often this is a ‘defence mechanism'.  It is a way of coping with their condition.  The reality can be that, that person is unhappy underneath the laughing and joking around.

Due to the stigma in society many people with chronic health problems find that they are penalised in terms of jobs, relationships etc.  They may experience some form of discrimination such as being passed over for promotion or failing to get a job at an interview even they are the best applicant.

They can also experience bullying which is something that happens to many overweight/obese children.