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Obesity can be treated, but not cured
More and more women and men in Germany are overweight. If you weigh too many pounds, you should act to protect your life. Because obesity is considered a trigger for more than 60 complications.
Every fifth person in Germany is obese or obese. Obesity doesn't just mean having a high body weight. Obesity also increases the risk of further illnesses - and with it the risk of dying earlier than people of normal weight. Those affected should therefore definitely reduce their weight.
Excess calories are stored as fat
As the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) explains on the portal "gesundheitsinformation.de", obesity is the result of an unbalanced energy balance for most people: they absorb more calories than they consume.
The professor Dr. Martina de Zwaan like that. "In the majority of cases, simply more energy gets into the body than is consumed again," explains the director of the Clinic for Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy at the Hannover Medical School (MHH) in a message.
The IQWiG explains that the body stores the excess calories as fat.
According to experts, there are many different factors that can contribute to weight gain. These include, for example, nutrition and lifestyle.
Dr. Martina de Zwaan thinks it's right to question his lifestyle from time to time. After all, according to the President of the German Obesity Society, every fifth person in Germany is “obese or obese, and the tendency is increasing, especially among adults.”
Life expectancy reduced by up to twelve years
As the MHH release states, obesity, like type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure, is a chronic condition.
"People with severe obesity show a tendency to repeat relapses, after a diet there is often weight gain again, this is called the yo-yo effect," explains Professor de Zwaan, "and with increasing body weight, the risk of developing complications increases."
According to the information, obesity is considered a risk factor and a trigger for over 60 secondary diseases. “Depending on the severity of the obesity, the life expectancy of the patient is reduced by up to twelve years. The professor can give hope to those affected: "Obesity can be treated," she says, "not curable."
Don't get fat at all
The doctor sees the most effective preventive measure against obesity not to get fat at all.
"There are plenty of therapies and ways to get rid of excess weight, but such a change means lifelong control, since the disease is not curable - and hardly a patient is aware of this," says the expert.
According to the doctor, there may be a genetic predisposition to obesity, but only very few sufferers are genetically determined. "Most people with obesity cannot control their food intake," said the clinic director.
Whether through eating bouts or simply permanent excessive food intake: The bottom line is that those affected consume too many calories.
Lifestyle sickness is greatly favored by lifestyle
"Obesity is a disease of civilization that is greatly favored by our lifestyle," said the President of the German Obesity Society.
Food and luxury goods are available around the clock, almost everywhere and mostly in abundance. In addition, the rather unhealthy, high-calorie products are extremely cheap. "Something is going wrong in our society."
It is also problematic that physical exertion in our affluent society is more of an exception nowadays, "we use the bus, train, car, escalator, elevator - all of this leads to less movement" and thus increases the risk of becoming overweight.
In addition, obese people are often stigmatized and discriminated against, which can lead to negative self-perception and increased suffering. Doctors also often do not act without prejudice.
"There is no such thing as a healthy obese person"
According to experts, a weight with a body mass index (BMI) between 19 and 25 should be aimed for. The BMI is calculated from: body weight in kg divided by body length² in m. If the BMI is greater than 30, humans are considered obese.
A 1.70m tall woman who weighs 87kg or a 98kg man who measures 1.80m have a BMI of 30.
So do you have to be afraid with a BMI of 30? No, says the doctor. "Nobody has to bow to an alleged ideal of beauty." But those affected have to make sure that the value does not increase.
"It is very different with a BMI of 40, 50 or even 60," says Professor de Zwaan. "Anyone with such a BMI is a ticking time bomb with an extremely high risk of complications."
According to the doctor, many of those affected do not want to see this at all - they lack any awareness of the problem or are repressing their illness. But the expert warns: "There is no such thing as a healthy obese person - and if that should be the case, it is only a transitional phenomenon."
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Change your diet and move more
But what can those affected do about their extreme excess weight? In order to lose weight, not only is it necessary to change your diet, but also more exercise and a change in behavior.
Expectations that are too high can be counterproductive, as they are often not met.
"Obesity therapy starts in the head," says Dr. de Zwaan. According to them, people who are more controlled and controlled types are less likely to develop obesity than impulsive types.
She explains the reason for this: “It is more difficult for impulsive people to be consistent.” Even if depressed patients suffer from obesity, treatment is difficult. "Because of their depression, they lack the motivation and energy to tackle problems," explains the clinic director.
Tax on sugary drinks
The doctor also sees politics in the obligation to make more stringent specifications. The chairwoman of the German Obesity Society sees Great Britain as a good example: The country introduced a tax on sugary drinks in April 2018.
There are similar regulations in the Scandinavian countries, in France, Hungary and Mexico. The expert also sees the first good approaches in Germany. "The strategy for reducing sugar and labeling foods with the traffic light colors red, yellow and green are first steps, but are not yet sufficient."
However, it does not believe in success as long as the measures are voluntary. "Education alone is not enough to change people's behavior," said Professor de Zwaan. "All patients know what they do to themselves and their bodies with the overweight."
Gastric surgery as a last resort for obesity
The last remedy for obesity is surgery to reduce the size of the stomach. "This is not the last word of wisdom," warns the doctor.
After such an intervention, those affected would continually decrease and increase less frequently. "But ideal weight is not to be expected even after an intervention."
It also remains an operation with the usual risks. And everyone must be clear: "Obesity is a chronic illness with a high relapse rate." (Ad)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Hannover Medical School (MHH): Weight Loss Part 1: "Obesity can be treated, but not curable", (access: February 22, 2020), Hannover Medical School (MHH)
- Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG): Severe overweight (obesity), (accessed: February 22, 2020), gesundheitsinformation.de