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After Coronavirus, Will Obesity Be The Next Pandemic?

The perils of the existing pandemic are being discussed all across the globe including the consequences of Covid-19 on different aspects of human health. The one factor that is causing concerns in the healthcare industry is obesity.

On World Obesity Day, we decipher the reasons why obesity could replace COVID-19 and become the next pandemic.

What is Obesity?

Obesity is a condition associated with excessive amounts of fats in the body. It can be triggered due to environmental and external factors and therefore can’t be managed alone through diet. A person is diagnosed obese when he/she has a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or greater. A BMI of an individual is calculated by dividing the person’s weight (kilograms) by height (metres). 

As we all are aware, obesity and overweight are one of the leading causes for developing health complications including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Therefore, let’s first talk of the categorization of weight before delving into the factors that cause obesity.

Categorization of Weight

The weight of a person is generally classified into five categories:

  • Underweight
  • Healthy Weight/Normal Weight
  • Overweight
  • Obesity
  • Severe Obesity

The categorization of weight completely relies on the body mass index. According to the BMI table:

  • An individual with <18.5 BMI is termed as underweight whereas 18.5 – 24.9 is considered the ideal BMI or healthy weight
  • Having a BMI over 25-29.9 is considered to be overweight and known to be undergoing health complications which can get severe, thus leading to obesity
  • Obesity is a disease where the individual’s body weight exceeds 30. On the contrary, a person with BMI greater than 40 is termed to have severe obesity

Factors causing Obesity

One of the ways to combat obesity is by understanding the factors causing it and eliminating them from the roots. Here are a few factors that cause obesity in an individual:

  • Psychological Factors
    The process of weight management can be difficult if the person is undergoing any stress. In such conditions, it is viable to work on the issues and continue the process.
  • Exercise
    When there is an imbalance between the intake of calories and calorie burn, the individual can experience weight gain. This is evident in the cases for people who commute for long on a daily basis and have desk jobs.
  • Sleep Deprivation
    Even sleep deprivation is defined as a cause of obesity. Studies have indicated that people who do not get enough sleep weigh more than people who do.
  • Hormones
    Hormones play a critical role in controlling function and activity of tissues. In most cases, people with obesity have hormones that do not give the right signal.
  • Genetic Factors
    Even genes in your body can determine if you are more likely to go obese.

How is Obesity Linked to the Current Pandemic?

The current outbreak of coronavirus disease has caused a toll to individuals’ mental health. Various complications including depression, stress, anxiety, and other psychological problems have stemmed out. Such mental health problems have further resulted in disturbed sleep cycle and increased food intake, further contributing to obesity in an individual.

Tips to help Reduce Obesity During Lockdown

Here are a few tips to reduce obesity during lockdown:

  • Opt  for a well-balanced diet
    A healthy diet helps in limiting chronic health risks. Include a lot of leafy and green vegetables, fruits, lentils, nuts, and whole grains. Control your intake of fried items, carbonated drinks, processed or refined foods.
  • Drink a lot of fluids
    Stay hydrated. Drink at least 2-3 litres a day. It is okay to include different variants including buttermilk, juices, curd etc. However, try limiting your intake of tea and coffee.
  • Try to remain active
    Since most of us are working from home, we all are aware of the challenges faced by individuals. Increased snacking, irregular sleep patterns, erratic work schedules, etc. has led to a rise in obesity. Opt for indoor exercises – zumba, jogging, aerobics, and dance – and try doing it for at least 20-3 minutes.
  • Indulge in meditation and yoga
    Do not forget to go for meditation and yoga classes to ensure inner peace and de-stress yourself.

By adopting healthy lifestyle changes, we can definitely try not letting obesity to be the next pandemic! Since obesity has considerably contributed to morbidity, on this World Obesity Day, let us all pledge to take the right step to not letting an epidemic and pandemic collide, ever.

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