Study linked morbid obesity to 13 types of cancer; insurance also now treats obesity treatment -Dr Jammu
Gurpreet Kaur/ royalpatiala.in/ Jalandhar
The World Obesity Federation recognizes obesity as a “chronic, relapsing, progressive disease process, associated with co morbidities such as diabetes, sleep apnea, high blood pressure and infertility.”A recent study also linked morbid obesity to 13 types of cancer. Though India has historically battled malnutrition, the number of obese people in the country has doubled in the last ten years – and this trend is pronounced in urban areas. In Punjab, more than one-third of the population is obese – and this proportion is higher in women, of whom an astounding 37% are obese! India is the 3rd most obese nation with more than 13.5 cr people suffering from Obesity, surpassed only by China and the US.
Dr Gurvinder Singh Jammu, Director and Head Department of Surgery, Jammu Hospital, Jalandhar while interacting with media persons, here in Jalandhar explained that why obesity should not be taken lightly. He said that, “Obesity is a complex disease that can impact the physical, mental and socio-economic well-being of the individual. In my clinical experience, obesity in women is associated with depression. This can fuel a vicious cycle – if you don’t feel good, you eat comfort food. Unfortunately, the impact is not only devastating for the individual but also for their personal life – increasingly, obese patients are reporting marital problems that even lead to divorce.”
Urbanization often leads to sedentary lifestyles with decreased levels of physical activity and higher consumption of sugary and fatty food – all of which can contribute to rising levels of obesity. Dr. G S Jammu added, “The most common cause of rising incidence of obesity in Punjab is sedentary life style and social habits that lead to frequent dining out. There is an increasing tendency to eat junk food or overeat at buffets. Usually these large meals are accompanied by high alcohol consumption. “
Obesity can also affect children. Dr. G S Jammu stressed that childhood obesity is a growing problem, “Lack of outdoor activities can fuel childhood obesity. These days, children are given mobile phones and laptops which they may find more entertaining than playing outside. Not only does this lead to the risk of obesity, but also to Vitamin D deficiency – which is a risk factor for both obesity and diabetes!”
He said in my practice, I have observed a rapid rise in the incidence of infertility, depression, NAFLD, kidney failure, cancers, sleep apnea and heart attacks in patients.”
Treatment plans usually include diet and lifestyle recommendations, medications and bariatric surgery for eligible patients. Dr. G S Jammu explained that, “When obesity is treated effectively, many co morbid diseases also show improvement. For instance, bariatric surgery is proven to help control Type 2 Diabetes in obese patients and other co morbidities, which helps reduce mortality.”
Dr. G S Jammu pointed out that patients can proactively consult a physician to understand whether they are eligible for bariatric surgery – before problems develop, “Most patients seek bariatric consultation when they develop Type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea or when they are refused a knee replacement surgery by an orthopaedician.
To help ensure that severe obesity is treated with proven methods, insurance coverage of obesity treatment is a key policy step. Dr. G S Jammu emphasized that, “In my experience, many patients avoid seeking obesity treatment due to financial concerns. Some even question whether they should spend money on a ‘cosmetic’ need. Obesity is a serious medical condition. Covering its treatment with insurance would cement awareness and encourage many patients to seek appropriate medical treatment.” He also informed that Insurance also now treats obesity treatment as per medical advice for morbidly obese. Insurance will cover medically advised treatment as per new IRDAI regulation and all policies will have to comply from October 2020 onwards.