Obesity is a growing concern among lifestyle disorders for people across various age groups. And in the modern world, where people are becoming increasingly conscious about their health and fitness, obesity is considered of major public health importance. Obesity or overweight is caused due to multiple health issues including hormonal imbalances, excessive eating, unhealthy lifestyle choices, lack of physical activity, hereditary reasons, side effects of certain medications, etc. Global estimates show that 1 in 3 people are obese or overweight and 13% of adults aged 18 years and over are obese.
Obesity is defined as the excessive or abnormal accumulation of fat in the adipose tissue. The amount of excess fat indicates its increased distribution in the body, either around the waist and trunk or peripherally around the body. It is associated with a greater risk of disability or premature death due to type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension, stroke, and coronary artery disease; certain cancers, osteoarthritis, infertility, etc.
The normal weight for a human is determined using Body Mass Index (BMI). It is calculated by dividing a person’s weight by the square of a person’s height in meters. If BMI is between 18 and 25, it is considered normal, while 25 to 30 is considered overweight and above 30 is considered obese.
Obesity is a chronic clinical condition which requires ongoing medical treatment and lifestyle moderations. Treatment is vital because of the associated complications in obesity. Diet, exercise and behavioural therapies are generally recommended.
Ayurvedic definition of Obesity
In Ayurveda, obesity is known as Sthoulyatha or Meda Roga which is caused by the aggravation of Kapha dosha. According to Ayurveda, one among the three basic elements of which all things in universe is made up of is Kapha. It can be correlated to a substance which is unctuous, cold, heavy, thick, sluggish, slimy, etc. in nature. Kapha has a main role in formation of all structures of body, lubrication in body and mind, formation of all seven tissues in body viz. body fluids, blood, fat, muscles, bones, marrow and reproductive tissues.
In its normalcy, Kapha gives nourishment to these tissues through their respective channels (srothas) which are micro in size. When Kapha is aggravated due to different pathological reasons including lifestyle or hereditary, it act as a toxin inside the body which will cause blockage to these minute channels due to its dense and heavy nature. In the case of obesity, Medo Vaha Srothas (channel which carries fat) gets affected thereby leading to an increase in production of fat tissue. For each specific tissue there is a respective digestive fire for their processing in each channel. When fat increases, the digestive fire also increases to digest the fat tissues. Hence the increase in appetite of an obese person causing them to consume more food and thus causes more fat production which in turn gets accumulated in body.
The Ayurvedic line of treatment for obesity focuses on treating the accumulated excess Kapha dosha. This can be done by eliminating Kapha increasing foods from diet, using herbal remedies to clear Medo Vaha Srothas, exercise, Panchakarma therapies, etc.
Diet and lifestyle advice recommended to prevent obesity:
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