How To Tackle Obesity and Avoid Bariatric Surgery Statistics show that 5% of India's population is morbidly obese and it is an increasing concern among children, too.

IT’S DIFFICULT to achieve and maintain a perfect body. Even if you have the dream body and shape now, one day you might gain weight and risk obesity if you’re someone who tends to overeat or shies away from exercising.

And when you start to put on weight, you think it doesn’t matter. You continue to get fat until you meet someone after a long time and they comment on your weight.

Now, you wake up to this reality and join the bandwagon of people who are trying new diet plans. After many attempts, you give up and join those people who believe that being fat or obese is ok, as long as they are comfortable with their body.

You tend to become complacent and just go about your life. One day you may find yourself sitting in your doctor’s office being told that you need to lose weight if you want to live a healthy life.

And the situation could be bad enough to warrant surgery.

Why Being Obese is Not Ok  

Statistics show that in India 5% of the population is morbidly obese. It is an increasing concern among children too. People, who were healthy initially, are struggling to lose weight. And failure to do so can lead to several health complications.

Body shaming is now a form of trolling on social media–a trend that has been criticised and condemned by proponents of body positivity. People have responded to body shamers in several ways, the most recent one being overweight women putting up photos of themselves in bikinis.

Being fat is okay as long as it doesn’t affect your health and the longer you remain overweight or fat, chances are that your health will deteriorate. And having a healthy body is the best thing you can do for yourself.

There are many scientific studies which link obesity with diseases like hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes (high blood sugar), heart disease, increased bad cholesterol, depression, anxiety, bone and joint diseases, sleep disturbances, breathing difficulties, gallbladder disease etc.

The younger you are and the longer you remain obese, the risk of developing these problems increases. And once you get them, chances are that you will be taking a pill or two daily for the rest of your life.

It’s important to remember that you are not alone in this struggle. There are several people in the world who’re struggling with the same problems. So, don’t be perturbed by what people say.  Do it for yourself and a healthy future.

An important thing to remember is that the decision to lose weight should be yours and shouldn’t be forced upon you.

Also, never should you go on a crash diet before your wedding. Do not be fooled by websites that guarantee weight loss in a short span of time.

Start by understanding how obesity can harm you. Identify the exercise routine and diet best suited for your body and lifestyle. And plunge in with determination and a can-do spirit.

Here are the things you should know before the word Go.

Aim for your ‘Ideal Weight’ by subtracting 100 from your height in centimetres. This is the weight you should maintain all through your life.  Another way is to calculate your ideal weight is by using the Body Mass Index or BMI.

How to calculate BMI:

BMI = Weight (kg)/Height(m)^2


BMI = 703 x Weight(lb)/Height(inches)^2

You can then check where you lie on the scale by using the index given below:

Body Mass Index Scale and Obesity

It is easy to lose weight on your own if you fall in the overweight category. It gets more difficult once you cross a BMI of 30. It’s then best to consult a dietician, nutritionist or a trainer while losing weight.

If your BMI indicates that you are morbidly obese i.e. it’s more than 40, you not only need a doctor but may need a surgeon too.

Another way to measure if you are in good shape and healthy is the waist-to-hip ratio. Measure your waist at the navel and hip at its maximum width in centimetres. Divide waist size by the hip size.

The normal ratio for women is 0.85 or less while for men it is 0.90 or less. A value above these means that you are obese.

How to start shedding weight

Negative balancing of calories/diet and exercise see-saw

In my last article, I’d gone over daily calorie needs and how to go about planning a diet. It’s important to remember that the calorie spent should be more than your calorie intake.

Maintaining this negative balance will help you start losing weight. It’s important to continue to maintain this balance. Weight lost slowly and steadily never comes back.

Once this routine is set, it’ll be easy for you to follow this for the rest of your life. Losing 10% of present bodyweight in 6 months is a reasonable and achievable goal.

There are a few things you can do to help set this routine. Start by keeping a daily logbook. Jot down everything you eat along with the calories and the exercises you’ve done.

Going to the gym isn’t the only way to exercise. Brisk walking, taking stairs instead of the elevator, running, a 10-minute jog, cycling,  swimming, a dancing can also help you lose weight. 150 minutes of exercise every week is a must. You can, obviously, do more if you like.

Coming to the diet, the first step is to remove sugar-based products like shakes, aerated drinks, juices, ice creams, chocolates, cake, pastries etc. Avoid butter, pure ghee, cream, fried snacks, and bakery products. Increase your fruits and vegetable intake.

Bariatric / Gastric bypass Surgery

Bariatric surgery or weight loss surgery is done by reducing the size of the stomach or by removing a portion of the stomach. Those with a BMI of over 35 are eligible for weight loss surgeries.

Depending on the complexity, the surgery can be done either laparoscopically or by opening the abdomen. In this procedure, the surgeon will cut and reshape the stomach, so that the filling capacity of the stomach is reduced.

Post surgery,  you can never ever go back to your previous lifestyle or diet. You have to follow a  diet plan for the rest of your life.

Prescription medicines for weight loss

Many medicines have been developed and tested to help reduce one’s appetite and aid in weight loss. However, none of these have shown any promising results and cause way too many side effects in the long run. Hence, a doctor will always be reluctant to prescribe them and it’s not advisable to take them.

Finally, no one is born obese. Mothers should also not overfeed their children to avoid childhood obesity which is becoming a huge problem in metropolitan cities. One needs to tackle these problems in the initial stages.

Dieting alone doesn’t help. Diet and exercise together will give you the desired results. Maintain a negative calorie balance which will eventually save you from undergoing surgery.

Even after the bariatric surgery, you will be dieting so why not now? And most of all, do not shy away from seeking help from your family and friends.

Dr Niruta Sharma is a consultant Cardiologist at RML Hospital, New Delhi. She believes that your health is in your hands.




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