Person suffering from Obesity

Obesity: we’re coming for you

Information on obesity including prevention and management. Obesity is all over the media, but why? What’s this ‘obesity pandemic’ and why is there such concern? What even is Obesity? Obesity is an excessive accumulation of fat that presents a risk to health… This is measured by the Body Mass Index (BMI), a formula based on your height and weight. You can use a calculator online to work out your BMI. More than 25 suggests you are overweight and more than 30 is an indicator that you are in the obesity category.

Click here for the BMI Calculator

How does this affect me?

Obesity is a global pandemic because our lifestyles have changed, we have less active working habits, tend to engage in less vigorous activities and don’t just eat more, but we eat more of the wrong food too.  Obesity seriously increases your risk of developing many conditions. Some of the main ones are heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, many cancers, arthritis and sleep apnoea.

How can I prevent obesity?

It does seem quite simple and most people already understand the following:

  • Eat fewer calories
  • Exercise more (burn more calories)
  • Live a more active life

That’s great, but is it really that simple?

Well simplifying it makes it sound easy, but with a modern lifestyle it can be extremely difficult for some people to prevent obesity, let alone get rid of the pounds.

There are so many influences hindering you and you’ll see them all around including – from going to work in a car, working at a desk, using your phone to order junk food and a perception that it’s difficult to eat healthy are a few. Perhaps one of the biggest influences are our friends and family – It can be really difficult to address this on your own.

We all come in different shapes and sizes, and genetics has a significant role in determining energy storage, energy use and weight loss which influences your likelihood of becoming obese.

Changing Lifestyles

Think about taking calories from a healthy diet, i.e. eating much more vegetables and fruit, and cutting down on sugary and processed foods such as cakes and biscuits.

Think about your own life – where can you realistically increase your activity in a modern world, and can it be social for you too? For example, engaging in sports or doing classes in the gym. The type of exercise that you do is important, there’s a distinction between movement and exercise.

Movement includes general activities at home and walking, which is unlikely to burn much calories compared to more active exercise that causes you to break out into a sweat.

But realistically. How can I get rid of what I’ve already put on?

You can do this, but long term it’s a lifestyle change, and a lifestyle change is what’s required not just to lose it, but to keep it off. Fasting diets work, but they are also the ones where people put weight back on quickly once the fasting stops. It’s not easy – there wouldn’t be a multi-billion pound industry in weight management if it was.

There are many different diets out there to choose from, each with their own benefits. The NHS weight loss plan is a good place to start.

What medication can help me to lose the weight?

So, you’ve tried diets or ‘diets’ aren’t for you. You’re working on the lifestyle changes (which is vital) but still you’re struggling to lose weight, and you’re thinking, what about medication?

Orlistat (Xenical) can help you lose weight. In simple terms, Orlistat works by stopping fat from being absorbed by the gut. For it to be most effective, you still need to eat a calorie controlled diet and exercise as recommended above. You should aim to lose between 5-10% of your body weight at 3 months. The medication can have some side effects, usually better tolerated the more you change your lifestyle.

We recommend medication only to be used as an adjunct, to making long term changes, and, most people will not need to use medication at all.

Our top 5 take home messages

  1. Obesity is serious, and is associated with lots of increased health risks
  2. A lifestyle change is required with a lower calorie diet and exercise
  3. Gradual weight loss is better as this is more likely to be sustained
  4. Orlistat is a medication that aids weight loss by binding fat, but only if used with lifestyle changes.
  5. Be patient, change will come, and do let us know about your success stories

Edited by Dr Kiran Sodha & The Doctor Service


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