The obesity pandemic

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Obesity is a problem that affects all countries around the world. Its incidence ranges from 74% in American Samoa to 2.1% in Vietnam. Portugal is more or less in the middle, with approximately 20% (2019 census) of obese people.

Obesity is calculated by measuring the Body Mass Index (BMI) which is found by dividing weight in kilograms by height squared, thus giving us a score whose average value is scaled. A normal BMI is considered for a score up to 24.9 kg / m2, overweight is for a score in between 25 and 29.9 kg / m2. Grade I obesity is for a BMI between 30 and 34.9 kg / m2, and grade II obesity is for a BMI between 35 and 39.9 kg / m2. Above 40 is grade III also known as morbid obesity.

The total obese population in the world is approximately 2 billion and about 3 million people die annually from this disease. In relation to the decrease in life expectancy in this group of people, there is also a decrease in the quality of life as it is quite affected by the existence of several associated diseases. Heart disease, diabetes, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, kidney disease, high blood pressure and even certain cancers where discrimination prevails and where self-esteem is at a very low level, leading to a lack of social achievement.

The treatment of obesity, after all its causes are ruled out, always entails behavioral changes. It is a multidisciplinary treatment that includes a dietary, psychological, and sometimes surgical intervention, with inputs from Gastroenterology through General Surgery, whenever loss of weight cannot be achieved other than through surgical means. These efforts are essential to improve the quality of obese people’s lives.

Dr. António Sérgio

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