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Q&A: Obesity

Obesity is a major issue around the world, and as more and more people put on excess weight it is a problem that is only likely to get worse.

In the UK it is estimated that one in five men and a quarter of women are obese, and that as many as 30,000 people die prematurely every year from obesity-related conditions.

How do you know if you are obese?

Most doctors calculate obesity using a formula known as the Body Mass Index (BMI).

It is a measure based on height and weight that applies to both adult men and women.

To calculate your BMI divide your weight in kilograms by the square of your height in metres.

A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight and one of 30 or above is considered obese.

Doctors have recently recognised a new category: those with a BMI above 40 are considered morbidly obese.

People with BMIs between 19 and 22 live longest. Death rates are noticeably higher for people with indexes 25 and above.

Underweight: less than 20
Normal weight: 20-25
Overweight: 25 – 29.9
Obese: over 30
Morbidly obese: over 40

Click to Calculate your BMI

The BMI is not infallible. For instance, it is possible for a healthy, muscular athlete with very low body fat to be classified obese using the BMI formula.

Why is obesity a problem?

Experts believe that obesity is responsible for more ill health even than smoking.

Being significantly overweight is linked to a wide range of health problems, including:

* Heart disease.
* High blood pressure.
* Arthritis.
* Diabetes.
* Indigestion.
* Gallstones.
* Some cancers (e.g. breast, prostate).
* Snoring and sleep apnoea. Stress, anxiety, and depression

What is the wider impact of obesity?

A study by the National Audit Office has estimated that obesity costs the NHS at least £500m a year – and the wider economy more than £2bn a year in lost productivity.

The problem is growing rapidly. Experts predict that if the current rate of growth continues, three-quarters of the population could suffer the ill effects of excess weight within 10 to 15 years.

Why is obesity on the increase?

It would be tempting to suggest that more people are seriously overweight than ever before because they eat too much.

Certainly, experts are worried about the high fat and sugar levels in many convenience and mass-produced foods. There is also concern about the advent of ‘super-sized’ portions, already popular in the US.

However, the reality is not as simple as that. A significant factor is that modern life is more sedentary than ever before.

A recent study showed that housewives in the 1950s actually ate more calories than their modern counterparts – but they were significantly slimmer because their daily lives involved far more physical activity.

What action do campaigners want?

The government has been accused of failing to implement “joined up thinking” in tackling obesity.

It has been criticised for focussing on cars in its transport policy, rather than advocating the healthier options of walking and cycling.

Parents have called for vending machines selling crisps and chocolate to be taken out of schools.

The government has also been urged to do more to persuade the food industry to promote healthy foods to consumers.

What is actually being done?

The government is due to publish a public health White Paper in the summer which will look at what can be done to tackle obesity.

It has already published consultation papers on diet and exercise in schools, how employers could help workers get fit and how manufacturers can reduce fat, sugar and salt in food, which will inform the White Paper.

Measures such as a ban on junk food ads to children are also being considered.

The Chief Medical Officer also published a report urging people to exercise five times a week in order to stay healthy.

How can you tackle obesity?

The best way to tackle the problem is by not getting fat in the first place. A combination of a healthy, balanced diet, and regular exercise should do the trick in most instances.

Experts recommend vigorous exercise such as brisk walking, swimming or cycling five times a week for 20-30 minutes.

For those who have been unable to avoid piling on the pounds, weight management clinics are available to provide expert help and advice.

In severe cases doctors may prescribe drug therapies, which have been shown to have some positive impact.

Among these are orlistat (brand name Xenical), which works by blocking the digestion of fat.

Another drug which has produced promising results is sibutramine (Reductil), which works by boosting the signal to stop eating so that patients feel fuller sooner and eat less.

Is surgery an option?

Yes, but it is usually only recommended for the most extreme cases, as the surgery itself can be risky, and the patients require lifelong monitoring for potential complications.

Two types of surgery are in use:

* Roux-en-Y: Staples or bands are used to make the stomach smaller and allow food to bypass part of the small intestine where many nutrients are absorbed.

* Extensive gastric bypass: A more complicated procedure, in which the lower portion of the stomach is bypassed. The small pouch that remains is connected directly to the final segment of the small intestine.

In theory both operations are reversible, but this can be difficult. Reversal is almost always accompanied by rapid regain of body weight.

An alternative is to wire up the jaw to prevent people chewing food. This can help people lose weight, but many doctors are concerned about the psychological impact. It also does little to encourage healthy eating.

Sources:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/medical_notes/3189930.stm

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Hysterectomy

A hysterectomy is a major surgical procedure. It always involves removal of the uterus, but can also include the removal of other parts of the genital tract.

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Are there different types of hysterectomy?

Yes. A total hysterectomy is the most common operation and this means removal of the uterus and cervix (neck of the womb).

A sub-total hysterectomy means the removal of the body of the uterus, leaving the cervix behind.

A radical hysterectomy involves the removal of the uterus, cervix, a small portion of the upper part of the vagina and some soft tissue from within the pelvis.

Why is it carried out?

A hysterectomy can help to ease many gynaecological complaints. These include:

* Heavy or very painful periods

* Fibroids: Swellings of abnormal muscle that grow in the uterus, and can cause heavy or painful periods, or problems with urination.

* Prolapse: Where the uterus, or parts of the vaginal wall, drops down.

* Endometriosis: A condition where the cells which line the uterus are found outside the uterus in the pelvis. This can cause scarring around the uterus, and may cause the bladder or rectum to ‘stick’ to the uterus or fallopian tubes.

* Various forms of cancer, including cancer of the cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries.

In most cases – except for cancer – the procedure is usually only used as a last resort.

How is the operation carried out?

The most common method is to cut through the lower abdomen, usually leaving a six-inch scar.

However, doctors may opt in some instances to remove the uterus through the vagina.

Are there any risks?

No operation is risk-free, especially surgery as major as a hysterectomy.

However, the vast majority of women undergo the procedure without any complications.

Obesity can make surgery more tricky, and increase the risk of post-operative complications, such as heavy bleeding.

There is also a small risk of damage to the bladder, or the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder.

An uncommon – but serious – complication is the development of a blood clot in the veins of the leg.

Is it a common procedure?

Up to one in five women will undergo a hysterectomy during their lifetime so it is a relatively common operation.

Over 40,000 hysterectomies were carried out in the UK in 2004/2005.

The NHS drug and treatment watchdog, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), warned in January 2007 that too many women were ‘suffering in silence’ from heavy periods because they feared having to have a hysterectomy.

NICE stressed that drugs and minor surgery could often be effective alternative treatments.

What impact does it have on sex?

A woman who has had a hysterectomy should be able to enjoy a satisfying sex life – in fact many women report that their level of sexual pleasure improves following the surgery.

Provided the surgery goes well, it should be possible to resume a normal sex life about six weeks after the operation.

You may click to see:->Hysterectomy Surgical Procedure

>Medical Encyclopedia:Hysterectomy

Sources: BBC NEWS: February 12,2007

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Homeopathy – The Higher Purposes of our Existence

When we experience a state of perfect health our bodies do not cry out for help through the expression of symptoms, nor do our thoughts and emotions weigh us down with negativity. Our experience becomes one of pure joy in the perfect pleasure of being. This is the optimal state for us to carry out our life-purpose unhampered by the restraints of ill-health. It is our true inheritance to achieve this state which then allows for spirit to shine through us and guide us on our path. Achieving this state of health and harmony removes many obstacles to the recognition of our true selves, and with this recognition comes a sense of connection to something greater. It gives new meaning to our lives and transforms the routine of daily living into a grand adventure.

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How can homeopathy help us to get in touch with spirit and assist in our personal evolution? Symptoms carry the clues to restoring balance and reconnecting with spirit. Homeopathy asserts that symptoms are actually expressions of the life force attempting to correct the imbalance, which is essentially dynamic in nature. Rather than seeking to oppose these symptoms through suppressive treatment, nature is encouraged in its struggle to overcome the diseased state and the organism is stimulated to increase its reaction by a remedy capable of strengthening the healing response. The increased stimulus allows the life energy to react more powerfully and overcome the disease.
Gently stimulating the life energy in this way tunes up the organism like the living, healthy instrument that it is capable of being. It is a refinement of the life force which then resonates on higher frequencies. These refined
frequencies resonate with and attract impulses from spirit which enhance per sonal awareness and growth.

Homeopathy does not take the place of doing your own inner work. It does, however, prepare the bodily temple by re balancing energies and fine-tuning the organism to such a degree as to render the path to total consciousness free of physical, emotional and mental obstacles.

Homeopathy is the only western medical system that recognizes the existence of the ‘spirit-like life force’ and its true significance in health and disease states. It is known that disease is primarily a dynamic, or energetic disturbance. It is known that symptoms are the organism’s reaction to the disturbance in an attempt to heal itself and restore balance. It is also known that left to its own devices in chronic disease states, the organism is a
somewhat inefficient healer.

Intervention is usually necessary to resolve the  situation. If there is a need for intervention, it should be as safe, gentle  and effective as possible using the least amount of remedial substance to effect a healing response. There is no better, more efficient method than homeopathy to achieve the desired result.

What is homeopathy?
As homeopathic remedies are person specific, and doses are generally small, the Society of Homeopaths said the protesters should not have any reaction to their overdoses, unless somebody had symptoms linked to their remedy.

Homeopathy is a form of alternative medicine. It was first proposed by Samual Hahnemann (1755 – 1843), a German physician in 1796. He proposed that patients could be treated with heavily diluted preparations of products which are thought to cause effects similar to their signs and symptoms.

Homeopathic medications are prepared by succession – a form of serial dilution with shaking by forceful striking after each dilution. It is assumed that this process makes the treatment more effective. The whole process is called potentization. Sometimes dilution continues until there is none of the original substance left.

Homeopaths use aspects of the patient’s physical and psychological state, as well as their symptoms when recommending remedies. Repertories (reference books) are consulted and a remedy is selected.

In the vast majority of cases homeopathic remedies are considered as safe. There have been some cases of arsenic toxicity. Although most homeopaths work alongside mainstream medicine, there have been cases where patients have been advised not to take proven treatments for some serious diseases (Malaria Advice Risks Lives, BBC).

Homeopathic treatments are recognized by the National Health Service (NHS), UK, which spends billions each year on it.

Difference between alternative medicine and orthodox medicine:-
There are many interpretations. Put simply, orthodox treatments/medicine has been proven through well organized clinical trials, in which the treatment is compared with either another medication or a placebo (or both). Alternative medicines have not been proven, either because trials found no difference compared to a placebo, or proper trials have not yet been carried out.

Imagine that people claimed that placing a flag at the bottom of the garden helped get rid of flu faster – until proven, this would be an alternative treatment. However, if a proper clinical trial were carried out with a large group of people in several centers, comparing the use of the flag with a placebo, and it was found that the flag was significantly more effective and did not have serious side-effects, the flag treatment would become orthodox medicine as soon as the authorities studied the results of the trials and approved its use.

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Reources:

Toronto School of Homeopathic Medicine

Medicine News Today:Jan.30. 2010

 

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