Long gone are those days when people perceive obesity or overweight as a measurement of affluence especially in Africa. In this time and age, we all could see how untrue this belief is.

Obesity is defined as excessive or abnormal fat accumulation that may impair health. (WHO)

One of the scientific tools used in the diagnosis of obesity or overweight is the body mass index (BMI) this is basically index of weight for height. I will not bore you with the numbers or the calculations involved in the BMI. If you are curious about knowing what your BMI is there are so many BMI calculators available on the Internet.

In my various years of practicing anesthesia, I have come across several hundreds of clients who are morbidly obese to the extent that the surgery has to be cancelled or postponed until they are able to lose some weight as they pose a lot of risk to themselves and others including the risk of death.

I will now go ahead and list few factors as they affect surgery.

Airway

In order for you to have an operation, the anaesthetist will have to place a small tube into your airway to take over your breathing. The placement of this tube might prove very difficult in obese people, if care is not taken and the patient can not be ventilated will inadvertently lead to brain damage as the brain is very sensitive to oxygen shortage

If luckily you wake up after the operation, the next few hours will be very crucial to your survival as you will be very drowsy, and at times stop breathing intermittently and thereby starving the brain of much needed oxygen due to too much fatty tissues around your throat.

Pre-existing co-morbidities

During a surgical procedure your anaesthetist needs to keep a close eye on your vital signs and respond appropriately. It’s a very delicate balancing act keeping you alive whilst asleep. Because of the big body mass or a body full of fats, the heart will be working flat out to supply blood to all those fatty tissues, you will need a considerable amount of medication to assist the heart in keeping you alive.

Positioning on the operating table might prove very difficult, and putting a lot of strain on all those joints that are already strained due to overweight. Especially if your operation will last few agonizing hours.

Another factor worth mentioning is regulating your blood sugar whist asleep. Diabetes goes very well with obesity, which if not well controlled might lead to coma and or death. Diabetes has also been shown to prevent wound healing and can also cause peripheral vascular diseases. The sad fact is that diabetes affects almost every system in your body, and unfortunately obesity is one of the predisposing factors.

Stroke

This can happen during a surgical procedure and this may be as a result of the fatty plaque from the walls of the blood vessel breaking off and finding its way to the brain vessel and blocking the smooth passage of blood to the brain, consequently you might never wake up from such operation.

Apart from all these mentioned risks, you also pose a risk to all the medical staff looking after you as they stand the risk of being injured due to handling your excessive weight and trying to keep you safe from falls.

Your risks

Hypertension, Diabetes, Obstructive sleep apnea, Asthma, osteoarthritis, Some cancers, (breast, colon etc.) Stroke.

Facts about overweight and obesity

Overweight and obesity are leading risk for global deaths. Around 3.4 million adults die each year as a result of being overweight, in addition 44% die of the diabetes burden, 23% of ischemic heart diseases, and between 7% and 41% of certain cancers are all attributed to obesity.

  • More than 1.4 billion adults over 20 years were overweight
  • Of these overweight adults, over 200 were men and 300 million women
  • Overall, more than 10% of the worlds adult population was obese

Key facts

  • Worldwide obesity has nearly doubled since 1980
  • 65% of the world population live in countries where overweight kills more people than underweight
  • More than 40 million children under the age of 5 were overweight in 2012

According to WHO, if your BMI is greater than or equal to 25 you are classified as overweight. BMI greater than or equal to 30 is classified as obesity.

As far as I am concerned, you do not need any mathematical calculation to point out that you fat.  As Martin Lawrence pointed out in one of his movies “ more cushion for the pushing” when the cushion accumulates too much then you are classified as fat.

Do not become part of the statistic, do something amazing today- lose weight!

Mr Jolayemi Victor Olukayode (RN Dip. N.Anaesthesia). Melbourne Victoria Australia.

Ref:-WHO Global strategy on diet