Tackling the growing problem of obesity

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    PASOO president Dr. Mia Fojas
    PASOO president Dr. Mia Fojas

    People with obesity are constantly shamed and blamed for their disease. This is because many people – including doctors, policy makers, and others, do not understand that obesity is a chronic disease. They simply see it as a lack of willpower, laziness, or a refusal to each less and move more.

    But like all chronic diseases, the root causes of obesity run deeper. They can be genetic, psychological, sociocultural, economic, and environmental. The aim of World Obesity day 2020 is to bring together healthcare, patients, and political communities to push for more comprehensive solutions, treatments, and collective responsibility for this global epidemic.

    Pharmaceutical firm Nov Nordisk tied up with the Philippine Association for the Study of Overweight and Obesity (PASOO) to tackle the health risks that Obesity brings as well as ways for people and the community at large to address this disease.

    “The first thing that we need to do is break the cycle of shame and blame for obesity. The whole thing is about perception and the only way that you can tackle it is by educating people, teaching them that it is a complex disease. It is a chronic condition that needs a lot of thought,” Dr Ahsan Shoeb, Head of Clinical, Medical and Regulatory, Quality and Pharmacovigilance, Novo Nordisk Philippines said.

    PASOO president Dr. Mia Fojas said that it was the American Medical Association that first treated obesity as an impairment of the normal function of some aspect of the body.

    “Obesity is caused by appetite dysregulation, abnormal energy balance, and some endocrine dysfunction,” Dr. Fojas shared.

    This could lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, dyslipidemia, joint pain and reduced mobility, and sleep apnea. Obesity has also been linked to type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, osteoporosis, and aggravate the symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome.

    Because of this, Dr. Fojas underscored the need to address the growing rate of obesity in the Philippines. According to data from the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, around 31 percent of Filipinos are considered obese, majority of which are concentrated in major economic hubs in the country.

    “Obesity can be address but we have to encourage everyone that it’s not just medication alone. It has to be combined with behavioral therapy and lifestyle modification. You can lose more weight with surgical intervention such as a gastric bypass, gastric band, or a gastric sleeve, but not a lot of Filipinos will have enough funds for surgery so the best alternative is pharmacotherapy plus lifestyle changes,” Dr. Fojas explained.

    “A 5 to 10 percent weight loss in 12 weeks may help reduce the risk of obesity-related complications and weight regain is one of the biggest challenge in attempting weight loss and that can be addressed with professional medical care,” she added.