Morbid obesity is a growing evil in our contemporary consumer society. Obesity and overweight are recognized as the 5th cause of death by the WHO. Depending on its degree of seriousness, the repercussions on health are multiple. Patients can lose between 8 and 15 years of life expectancy.
What is morbid obesity? Simply put, it’s when fat replaces muscle. According to the WHO, obesity is characterized by an excess of fat mass that leads to harmful consequences.
It is defined by the body mass index (BMI). Knowing that a good BMI is between 18.5 and 25, the BMI for morbid obesity is equal to or greater than 40.
Causes of morbid obesity
Many causes are at the origin of the pathology:
- Genetics: Genes play an important role in obesity. However, there is nothing we can do about it.
- Metabolism: Some people spend much less energy at rest than others. They must then eat less, otherwise, the calories are stored as fat.
- Sedentary: lack of physical activity = weight gain. Travel is done by motorized vehicles, the remote control avoids getting up to change the chains, etc. On the other hand, many high energy density recipes are consumed. Less expenditure + increase in energy density = weight gain.
- Changing eating behavior: In today’s society, stress is a scourge that is often compensated for by food. Less time to eat, snacking and high energy density products are ingested on the run;
- Medical: certain endocrine disorders can lead to weight gain, but so can certain medications.
Consequences of morbid obesity
While its causes appear multiple and complex, its impact on an individual’s equilibrium is just as complex.
Development of diseases
Being morbidly obese has serious effects. This means that the patient also has to struggle with various other associated conditions. These are called co-morbidity factors.
- Type 2 diabetes: Not being able to provide enough insulin, blood sugar levels rise after and outside of meals. The risk is 3 times higher than in non-obese people.
- Hypertension: 2 to 3 times higher in obese people;
- Gallstones and other gallbladder problems.
- Dyslipidemia (abnormal blood lipid levels) – cholesterol.
- Sleep apnea: nocturnal respiratory arrest disrupting restful sleep.
- Dyspnea: shortness of breath during the effort, but also at rest.
- Cardiovascular problems (fatty plaque on the walls of arteries or atheroma plaque): coronary disorders, stroke, heart failure, cardiac arrhythmia.
- Risk of infertility:
- In women: irregular menstrual cycle or amenorrhea (absence of periods), excessive secretion of androgen (male hormones).
- In men: decrease in testosterone levels (drop in libido and fertility).
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Cancers: Of the digestive system: (colon, gallbladder, pancreas, liver, kidney)
- For women: endometrial, breast, ovarian and cervical cancer;
- For men: prostate cancer.
Morbid obesity creates a malaise
Obesity is a chronic disease. And as with all chronic diseases, if it is established it becomes irreversible.
All the inconveniences linked to this disease contribute to degrading the quality of life of the individual suffering from this pathology.
Being obese can be a hindrance both professionally and socially. Between frequent work stoppages due to medical complications and difficulty being hired, or discrimination and rejection, isolation is one of the consequences of obesity.
Obese people also suffer psychologically. It is difficult to face the gaze of others. Mockery and judgment are felt as perpetual aggression.
Add to this low self-esteem and low self-confidence, and see how depression sets in.
The image of the body is disturbed, the sick person rejects it because it is too ugly, bulky, and painful. They feel ashamed and guilty.
Physical activity has many beneficial aspects. But there is a link between obesity and the prevalence of falls and balance problems when walking.
This can potentially justify inactivity in obese people. The speed, pace, and length of steps are reduced when an obese person is moving around.
That’s not all, sedentariness can also be explained by various other complications of obesity:
- Respiratory failure:
- Shortness of breath on effort and at rest.
- Asthma: multiplied by 4 in cases of morbid obesity.
- Excessive sweating
- Osteoarthritis of the knees, ankles, and hip.
- Low back pain
- Gout: deposition of uric acid in the joints.
- Venous insufficiencies:
- Phlebitis: formation of clots in the veins.
- Edema: heavy and swollen legs.
- Fatigue: for various reasons. Some of these include taking medication, depression or lack of sleep;
- Urinary incontinence: stress incontinence.
Functional difficulties probably represent only a small part of the reasons for the obese person’s sedentary lifestyle.
It is nevertheless essential to target them well to allow a return to physical activity without danger or genes.
Remember that although lipids are a source of energy, and that they are also indispensable, the body cannot get rid of them if they are consumed too much.
It stores them in the form of fatty tissue for later use. Thus fat accumulates, and the consequences of morbid obesity are felt.
The obese person becomes aware of his or her body. The image they have of it pushes them towards isolation and the impact on their health demotivates them.
As they age, people with obesity have a poorer quality of life and a shorter life expectancy than those with a healthy weight (BMI between 18.5 and 25).
How do we get out of morbid obesity?