What is obesity?
Obesity is a medical condition characterised by excessive accumulation of body fat that can negatively affect an individual’s health. It is usually diagnosed using the body mass index (BMI), which is a measure of body fat based on a person’s height and weight.
BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by the square of their height in meters. A BMI of 30 or above is considered obese, while a BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight.
Obesity can have several negative effects on an individual’s health, including:
Increased risk of chronic diseases: Obesity is associated with an increased risk of developing chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and some types of cancer.
Increased strain on joints: Excess weight can put added strain on the joints, increasing the risk of joint problems, such as osteoarthritis.
Respiratory problems: Obesity can lead to respiratory problems, including sleep apnea, asthma, and shortness of breath.
Mental health issues: Obesity can also have negative effects on mental health, including depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.
Reduced life expectancy: Obesity can reduce life expectancy by several years.
The effects of obesity can be mitigated through lifestyle changes, including regular exercise, healthy eating habits, and weight management. In some cases, weight loss surgery may be recommended for individuals with severe obesity to help them lose weight for the long term and improve their overall health.
Is Obesity a disease?
Although the classification of obesity as a disease varies internationally, global experts agree that contributary factors are multiple and complex.
Increasingly many medical organisations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), recognise obesity as a disease:
‘Obesity is a complex disease that presents a risk to health. Its causes are much more complex than the mere combination of an unhealthy diet and physical inactivity.’ The World Health Organisation 2022
Obesity is a chronic medical condition characterised by excessive accumulation of body fat that can negatively affect an individual’s health. It is associated with an increased risk of several chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and some types of cancer.
Classifying obesity as a disease helps to increase awareness and understanding of the condition and highlights the importance of prevention and treatment. It also helps to remove stigma associated with obesity, as it is recognised as a medical condition rather than a personal failing or lack of willpower.
By recognising obesity as a disease, healthcare professionals can work with patients to develop personalised treatment plans that address the underlying causes of their condition, including lifestyle factors, medical conditions, and genetic factors.
What causes obesity?
There are several factors that can contribute to the development of obesity. These include:
Genetics: Genetics can play a role in the development of obesity. Research has shown that some people may have a genetic predisposition to obesity, which can affect their metabolism, hormones, and other factors that influence weight gain.
Poor diet: Consuming a diet high in calories, unhealthy fats, and added sugars can lead to weight gain and obesity. Eating a diet that is high in processed foods, fast food, and sugary drinks can contribute to an increase in calorie intake and weight gain.
Lack of physical activity: A sedentary lifestyle, with little or no physical activity, can contribute to weight gain and obesity. When a person does not burn enough calories through physical activity, those calories are stored as fat, leading to weight gain.
Environmental factors: Environmental factors such as living in an area with limited access to healthy food options, lack of safe and convenient places to exercise, and a culture that promotes sedentary lifestyles can all contribute to the development of obesity.
Medical conditions: Some medical conditions, such as hypothyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can contribute to weight gain and obesity.
Medications: Certain medications, such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, and corticosteroids, can lead to weight gain as a side effect.
Obesity is often the result of a complex interplay between these factors, and multiple factors can contribute to the development of the condition. Addressing these underlying factors is key to the prevention and treatment of obesity.
What is weight loss surgery?
Weight loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, is a type of surgical procedure that helps people who are severely overweight or obese to lose weight by altering their digestive system. The surgery is typically performed on individuals who have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more, or a BMI of 35 or more with other health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or sleep apnea.
There are different types of weight loss surgery, including gastric bypass, gastric sleeve, and gastric banding. Gastric bypass and gastric sleeve involve reducing the size of the stomach, while gastric banding involves placing an adjustable band around the upper part of the stomach to limit food intake.
The benefits of weight loss surgery include significant and sustained weight loss, improvement or resolution of obesity-related health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea, and improvement in overall quality of life. In addition to physical health benefits, weight loss surgery can also lead to improved mental health, including increased self-esteem and reduced risk of depression and anxiety.
However, weight loss surgery is not without risks and potential complications, and it is important for individuals considering the surgery to carefully weigh the potential benefits and risks, and to work closely with their healthcare team to determine if it is the right choice for them.
What are the main types of weight loss procedures?
There are several types of weight loss (bariatric) surgery that are commonly performed. These include:
Gastric bypass surgery: This surgery involves dividing the stomach into a small upper pouch and a larger lower pouch, then rerouting the small intestine to connect to the smaller upper pouch. This restricts the amount of food that can be eaten at one time and reduces the absorption of calories from food.
Gastric sleeve surgery: Also known as sleeve gastrectomy, this surgery involves removing a large portion of the stomach, leaving a narrow tube or sleeve-shaped stomach. This reduces the amount of food that can be eaten at one time and leads to a feeling of fullness and satisfaction with smaller meals.
Gastric banding surgery: This surgery involves placing an adjustable band around the upper part of the stomach, creating a small pouch above the band. This restricts the amount of food that can be eaten at one time and leads to a feeling of fullness and satisfaction with smaller meals.
Biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch: This surgery involves removing a large portion of the stomach, creating a smaller stomach pouch, and rerouting the small intestine to reduce the absorption of calories from food.
Gastric balloon: This is a non-surgical weight loss procedure that involves placing a deflated balloon in the stomach through the mouth and then inflating it with saline solution. The balloon takes up space in the stomach, reducing the amount of food that can be eaten at one time and leading to a feeling of fullness and satisfaction with smaller meals.
Can I drink fizzy drinks following weight loss surgery?
It depends on the type of weight loss surgery you have undergone and the recommendations of your Tonic surgeon and dietitian. In general, carbonated beverages or fizzy drinks should not be consumed after weight loss surgery, especially in the immediate postoperative period.
Carbonated beverages can cause discomfort and bloating in some people, which can be especially problematic after weight loss surgery, where the stomach is smaller and more sensitive. Additionally, fizzy drinks are often high in sugar or artificial sweeteners, which can contribute to weight regain and other health issues.
However, as you progress in your recovery and your Tonic surgeon and dietitian clear you for different types of foods and drinks, it may be possible to reintroduce certain carbonated beverages in moderation. It’s important to follow the guidance of your Tonic healthcare team and pay close attention to how your body reacts to different foods and drinks after weight loss surgery.
What is ‘keyhole surgery’?
Keyhole surgery, also known as laparoscopic surgery, is a minimally invasive surgical technique that allows a surgeon to perform operations through small incisions in the body. This is done using a laparoscope, which is a thin, long tube with a camera and light attached to it.
During the procedure, the surgeon makes a small incision in the patient’s abdomen and inserts the laparoscope. The camera on the laparoscope allows the surgeon to see inside the patient’s body and guide miniature surgical instruments through additional small incisions to perform the necessary surgery.
Keyhole surgery has many benefits compared to traditional open surgery, including less pain, less scarring, and a shorter recovery time. Additionally, the smaller incisions used in keyhole surgery typically result in less blood loss and fewer complications than open surgery. Overall, this surgical technique can dramatically reduce the duration of a patient’s hospital stay.
Many types of procedure are now performed using keyhole surgery including weight loss procedures, gallbladder removal, hernia repair, and appendectomy. However, not all surgeries are suitable for this technique, and the decision to use keyhole surgery will depend on the patient’s specific condition and the surgeon’s preference and expertise.
When can I drive again after weight loss surgery?
The timing for resuming driving after weight loss surgery can vary depending on the type of surgery you had, your individual recovery progress, and the specific guidelines of your surgeon and the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) in the UK.
In general, it is important to avoid driving until you are physically and mentally able to do so safely, as the effects of your anaesthetic, pain medication, and post-surgery fatigue can impair your ability to drive.
As a general guideline, the DVLA recommends that you should not drive for at least 1 week after laparoscopic surgery and at least 4 to 6 weeks after open surgery. However, this may vary depending on your individual case and the recommendations of your surgeon.
It is important to discuss your driving plans with your surgeon and follow the guidance from the team at Tonic on when it is safe to resume driving. Once you are ready to drive again, start with short journeys and gradually increase your driving time and distance as you feel comfortable and confident.