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Dr Aparna Govil Bhasker & Her Surgeon's Prayer

Lockdown, weight up

Sedentary lifestyle can worsen obesity

Weight gain during the lockdown period has led to rise in health problems, says Dr Aparna Govil Bhasker

The sudden lockdown last year in March, forced everyone to stay indoors. All the avenues for physical activity like gyms, parks, and yoga centres were shut.

Many people who were already overweight and suffered from obesity had to battle further weight gain issues during the lockdown.

Obesity is the root cause of many associated diseases such as type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, joint-related issues, PCOS, lung and liver diseases, and certain cancers, says Dr Aparna Govil Bhasker, an accomplished and renowned Bariatric Surgeon and Laparoscopic Surgeon.

Additional weight gain during the lockdown period has invited further health problems leading to further deterioration in quality of life.

When it comes to weight gain during lockdown, there are two groups of people - those who were normal weight before the lockdown and those who were already living with obesity or were overweight. During the lockdown, many people in both groups gained weight. Many normal-weight people also gained between 2 to 5 kgs during the lockdown. Those who suffered from type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure experienced an increase in blood sugar levels and blood pressure levels along with weight gain. Interpersonal, job-related, and financial difficulties added to the strain and anxiety leading to altered sleep cycles, Dr Bhasker explains.

Many patients with obesity who had consulted for bariatric surgery in February and March 2020, had to wait as elective surgeries were put on hold. Some patients like Alok Shah (name changed) are coming back with significant weight gain. 

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Listen to the Doctor!

  • Check your weight and calculate your body mass index (BMI). BMI between 18.5 to 23.5 kg/ m2 is considered in the normal weight category. BMI between 23.5 to 27.5 kg/ m2 is considered overweight, between 27.5 to 32.5 kg/ m2 falls under grade 1 obesity, 32.5 to 37.5 kg/ m2 under grade 2 obesity and above 37.5 kg/ m2 is considered as grade 3 obesity. 
    • (BMI= Weight in kg /Height in m2)
  • Eat healthy and exercise regularly. Portion control is important too
  • Everyone must aim for 30 to 45 minutes of moderate exercise for at least 5 days a week.

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An IT professional from Bangalore, Alok struggled with weight issues all his life. He was jolted out of his normal routine owing to the additional weight gain during the lockdown. He had an online consultation with Dr Aparna Bhasker and reported his weight to be around 156 Kg. Lockdown worsened his physical condition and he started having difficulty in walking even a few steps. He started getting severe knee joint pain, was acutely breathless and even day-to-day activity were becoming a burden. He started feeling sleepy during the day and was unable to focus on work.  

Dr Bhasker said there are many patients like Alok who are complaining of significant weight gain during lockdown. “After a detailed online consultation, the patient visited me in the first week of December 2020. He was shocked to see that his weight was actually 187 kg and not 156 kg. It was almost 30 kgs more than what he thought.”

At such high weight, unless the patient visits a hospital, it is difficult to measure the exact weight on home scales, she said. At the age of 36 years, he was feeling like a senior citizen. After a preparation of about ten days, Alok underwent bariatric surgery in the form of laparoscopic gastric bypass in the third week of December 2020.

In this surgery a small pouch of the stomach is created using staplers and the small intestine is attached to the pouch in a Y shaped fashion. This leads to reduction in food intake, feeling of fullness, reduced hunger and multiple hormonal changes that lead to gradual weight loss. He has done very well and has already lost 30 kgs in the last 3 months. He will continue to lose weight for about 12 to 16 months. As a bariatric team we will continue to support him lifelong, said Dr Aparna.

Obesity has also been implicated as a poor prognostic factor even for Covid 19 infection. “Our observation is that patients who suffer from obesity and Covid 19 infection needed admissions to even intensive care units,” she said.  

Also check: A SURGEON’S PRAYER

"I was always on the heavier side since my childhood. My lifestyle was also sedentary. Being an IT professional, I required to sit for long hours, life was stressful, and was unable to eat on time. This led to weight gain and my health kept deteriorating further, said the patient Alok.  He avoided socializing. “I even found it difficult to find clothes of my size. I could hardly walk and was unable to do my daily chores. Life became difficult but I thank Dr Aparna for helping me get back on track. I have lost a lot of weight, started exercising, and following a well-balanced diet," he added.

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