Physician Lectures on the Global Epidemic of Obesity
|Dr. Camille Aizarani
Lack of time for sports must no longer be a viable excuse for the sedentary
and the overweight. Family physician Camille Aizarani of AUB's Family
Medicine Department says that out of each week's 168 hours, a "sparing
five hours should be dedicated to what ultimately is a betterment of our
In his lecture on November 1, entitled "Obesity and Overweight"
and held in West Hall, Dr. Aizarani defined overweight as the first stage
of obesity, itself defined as "the abnormal or excessive fat accumulation
that may impair health." The doctor stressed that both overweight
and obesity are indicated by a person's body mass index (BMI), which,
while it indicates overweight, cannot reveal ideal body mass. Likewise,
the BMI cannot indicate the extent of intra-abdominal fat tissues, something
which only an accurate measurement of a person's waist circumference can
In presenting some frightening statistics recently provided by the World
Health Organization (WHO), Aizarani dispelled the popular belief that
a person's genetic makeup is the most influential instigator of obesity.
Because of people's increasingly sedentary lifestyles, there are now around
1.6 billion adults and 20 million children worldwide suffering from obesity
and excess weight. Striking people of different ages and socioeconomic
groups, this increase in body fat has become "a major contributor
to the global burden of chronic disease and disability." By 2025,
the grim report continued, the prevalent rate of obesity worldwide will
have increased by 70 percent if the current epidemic persists.
This phenomenal increase in portliness over the past fifty years, as Dr.Aizarani
argued, cannot be solely blamed on genetics, but should rather be examined
in light of the confluence of factors exacerbating the epidemic. While
he conceded that genetics is partly to blame, Aizarani delineated the
more culpable agents fueling the increased incidence of obesity: the popular
consumption of energy-dense types of food and beverages high in sugar
and saturated fat, reduced physical activity due to modernity's automated,
high-tech, sedentary career options, and, finally, insidious marketing
stunts that lure people into unhealthy eating habits.
He also cited the most common health consequences of overweight and obesity,
namely cardiovascular and degenerative joint diseases, strokes, diabetes,
high blood pressure, gallstones, obesity-related cancers, gynecological
irregularities, and sleep apnea or the infamous nighttime difficulty in
breathing that obese individuals often complain of.
Aizarani emphasized that any management strategy for the obesity epidemic
will require the wholesale concerted efforts of a number of social institutions,
like non-governmental organizations, the school and family units, and
the food and advertisement industries. At the individual level, people
can reduce the incidence of obesity by exercising regularly, embracing
healthy eating patterns, and seeking medical and pharmaceutical advice,
of which surgery, as Aizarani put it, should usually be "the last
resort." Likening obesity to other chronic diseases like hypertension,
migraines, diabetes, and asthma, Aizarani concluded that obesity requires
diligent lifelong management and control, because "once treatment
is withdrawn, the disease will surely recur."