Obesity leads to various ailments and psychological problems. The muscles of obese persons are weak and flabby. Arthritis is also common in obese persons. The weight bearing joints are under constant stress and strain due to excess weight of the body. Blood vessels of obese persons get constricted due to excess cholesterol, which form plaques (atheromas). This leads to high blood pressure, stabbing pain in the chest (angina pectoris), heart attacks and strokes. The digestive system of obese persons is prone to diseases like diverticular pathologies. Gall stones may be formed due to excess cholesterol. Cancers, diabetes are all products of obesity. Obesity also creates problems during pregnancy.
The various diseases and complications due to obesity shorten the lifespan of individuals and can lead to premature death. Mortality and morbidity are both to associate closely with obesity. An obese person not only suffers physical pains but also suffers psychological trauma. He feels inferior, and there may be psychological problems as he is often ridiculed and teased.
Causes of Obesity
The various causes of obesity include overeating, lack of exercise, sedentary lifestyle, genetic factors, endocrine (hormonal imbalances) – all constitute important causative factors of obesity. Among endocrinal causes we need to discuss certain syndromes. In syndromes we have a set of pathologies grouped in a very characteristic manner.
1. Cushing’s syndrome
This is due to excessive glucocorticoid hormones (cortical). This can also occur due to excessive corticosteroid administration. That is, both endogenous and exogenous cortisols can cause cushings.
The clinical features are:
• Wasting of tissue myopathy (weak muscles); thin skin, osteporosis, purple abdominal striations.
• Water retention oedema, high BP.
• Obesity of trunk, head, neck.
Apart from there they will be excessively prone to infection; poor wound healing, hirsuitism (hair growth in women).
2. Pickwickian syndrome
This syndrome is caused by many factors; obesity is one of the causes. Enlarged tonsils, acromegaly, myxoedema are all other causes. What happens in this syndrome? During sleep there is collapse of pharyngeal walls leading to respiratory obstruction, sometimes for well over a minute. O2 and CO2 disturb sleep and there is daytime somnolence. Personality changes, intellectual deterioration, headaches, enuresis are all presenting features. One of the important aspects of treatment is to lose weight.
3. Laurence moon biedl syndrome
There is polydaetyly (extra digits) retinitis pigmentos, cataract, microphthalmia, obesity, absent facial hair, hypogenitalism. This is a pituitary gland disorder. Also called Frohlichs syndrome or Adipose genital syndrome, some consider the fat boy of Pickwick Papers as an example of this syndrome. Others put him in the ‘pickwickian’ syndrome, i.e., obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome.
Thus we see in the above syndromes that either obesity is a cause or manifesting feature.