‘Obesity a disease, not a choice’

Instead of fat shamming, high time obesity is recognised as a disease say doctors slamming socialite Shobha De’s insensitive comments on an obese policeman from Madhya Pradesh. Obesity is a metabolic disease where the patient's body is unable to consume the calories

A day after Mumbai Police and twitteraties trolled Shobha De on posting an obese policeman’s photo and making insensitive remarks on him, doctors and bariatric surgeons slammed her comment saying the reasons behind obesity is hugely misunderstood in the society. They say instead of fat shaming, it is high time that both government and society recognise it as a disease.

Shobha De’s tweet

Mumbai Police’s reply

“Obesity is not a choice but a disease. Since 2003, as a bariatric surgeon, I am fighting this challenge to change the perception of this disease and recognise it instead of getting ashamed or making a comedy of the patient. Abroad, obesity is recognised as a disease. Here (in India) we are fighting to make government recognise it as a disease. It is high time that government recognises it as a disease and help spread awareness in the society,” said Dr Jayshree Todkar, bariatric surgeon and founder of JT foundation.

Criticising De’s comment, Todkar said obesity is a metabolic disease where the patient’s body is unable to consume the calories. “Obese patients are victims of bad metabolism and have pipeline of diseases. It is wrong and insensitive to blame anyone for the disease without knowing the true reason behind it,” said Dr Todkar.

Her foundation had done a study on policemen and bus drivers a while back and said they have weak metabolism because of unscheduled duty hours, uncontrolled lifestyle, high stress level etc.

“People like Shobha De do not have to face such factors. Instead of volunteering to help them, De has passed such irresponsible comment. Policemen work for society and needs to be respected instead of such frivolous comments,” said Todkar.

Obesity 24.11.2016

Doctors say while around 65% of obesity cases are due to bad lifestyle, the remaining percentage is because of genetic patterns or hormonal status. “Reason behind obesity is not just excessive eating. Our society needs to be sensitised about the disease. Obesity has always been looked down upon in our society,” said Dr Sanjay Borude, bariatric surgeon, Breach Candy Hospital. He said, in developed countries calling a person obese is considered to be a bad word.

“In India, we mock people who are obese which is very sad. Such people are already suffering through an immense mental trauma and avoid socialising because of the fear of being mocked. People do not get job because of being fat as it is perceived that such person cannot perform at work,” said Borude.

Doctors say there are monogenic and polygenic obesities and many genes like leptin deficiency, leptin receptors have been implicated in obesity.  There are some syndromes too like Bardet–Biedl syndrome that is linked to obesity. Many people like Shobha De are ignorant about it.

Talking about the mental trauma that an obese person undergoes, Dr Sagar Mundada, psychiatrist at KEM Hospital-Parel said, “People having obesity generally have a lot of negative emotions and thought processes regarding themselves as a result of the persistent negative cultural reinforcement by society. This makes them highly prone to depressionanxiety episodes and also predisposes them to eating disorders.”