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Obesity: Is Being Overweight a Disease?

A BMI of 30 or more is the limit to obesity.
Photo: iStock


When do you talk about overweight obesity? Which treatments can help? And when does obesity become a health hazard?

There are people who just do not get thinner, no matter how hard they are. Again and again they try to lose weight, but the extra pounds remain. " The proportion of overweight and obese people has risen sharply in the past ten to 20 years, " says the doctor Christine Tabacu, who looks after the candidates in the current season of the weight loss show "The Biggest Loser".

What causes is overweight?

Many sufferers are self-reproaching. Studies have shown that hereditary factors play an important role in the development of obesity . Because they determine how the body uses nutrients and manages its energy reserves. Some people just have unfavorable conditions. If you are not looking for a healthy diet and a lot of exercise, they quickly cross the border to obesity. Researchers estimate the influence of genes on our body weight at about 60 percent. In addition, it is mainly very fatty and sugary foods that make you fat. Because the body can easily digest the short-chain carbohydrates from soft drinks, fast foods and sweets - so it hardly consumes energy. In addition, he can store saturated fatty acids, which are typically found in fast food, faster than unsaturated, the z. B. contained in nuts.

Where is the limit to obesity?

Physicians assess body weight using the body mass index (BMI) - the ratio of weight to height squared. A 1.66-meter-tall woman weighing about 83 kg has a BMI of 30 (83 / 1, 662 = 30) and is considered obese. Because a BMI from 30 upwards is considered the limit to obesity . Normal weight has everyone with a value below 25. The World Health Organization has obesity recognized it as a disease more than 15 years ago. "But in Germany, medical treatment is still not mandatory, " explains Prof. Rudolf Weiner, President of the German Society for Surgery of Obesity. Obesity is one of the most common causes of high blood pressure, diabetes, calcification of the coronary arteries and cancer. The risk of developing depression is also 45 percent higher for massive obesity (40+ BMI).

Does obesity have to be treated like a disease?

More and more doctors are advocating that obesity is recognized in Germany as a disease that should be combated as soon as possible. "Obesity is an addiction disease that you rarely get to grips with, just like medication dependency, " says Oliver Mann, Head of the Obesity Center at the Hamburg University Hospital. As a rule, those affected are therefore initially treated with a combination of psycho-nutritional and exercise therapy. Because in addition to the hereditary factors and improper nutrition, obesity is favored mainly by mental problems, the so-called "stress feeding", and lack of exercise. But often the gentle forms of therapy that are paid for on application by the fund are not enough.

Can operations help?

If all other therapies have failed - which is common - physicians with a BMI of 35 usually recommend surgery. Most currently recommend the use of a gastric band . The surgeon constricts an area in the upper area of ​​the stomach with a silicone band. As a result, the stomach is reduced in size, and it settles faster satiety. After the approximately two-hour operation, patients must first get used to solid food again. But they lose on average between 40 and 60 percent of their overweight. Another option is the so-called gastric bypass . In this procedure, the stomach is severed in the upper part. The upper, smaller part of the stomach connects the surgeon directly to the small intestine. The stomach volume and the area of ​​the small intestine are reduced in this way. As a result, patients lose on average about 75 percent of their overweight. In many cases, surgery leads to partial or complete disappearance of secondary diseases such as diabetes and heart problems. " Surgery will only bring long-term success and good health if patients use it to completely change their diet, " says Weiner. The surgery forces her to eat less. A chance to say goodbye to fast food and co.

Obesity? You should know that!

It's all about the waist!

BMI just over 30? That does not have to be harmful to health automatically. Studies have shown that the distribution of fat also plays an important role. Therefore, doctors measure the waist circumference during an examination. The obesity threshold is 88cm for women and 102cm for men.

It may be a few pounds more!

Recent studies show that a slight overweight can bring health benefits especially for older people over 70 years - as an energy reserve for diseases.

Slowly approach diets!

Researchers have shown that the famous fasting day to start a diet provokes the body to fight back. Result: Fat deposits are broken down more slowly than with a gentle start to the diet.