Today while scrolling down the pages on the internet came across a quote saying,
“Obesity is the mother of all diseases. Kill it before it kills you”.
This quote is worth thinking. Obesity has emerged as one of the rampant problems all over the world. As per the figures in 2016, globally around 1.9 billion adults were overweight and 650 million belonged to the obese. In India, around 135 million adults were affected by obesity1. Obesity is a major health concern and is increasing at an alarming rate across the globe. The increasing incidence of obesity has contributed to the development of several serious health concerns like Diabetes, Cardiovascular disease, High blood pressure, High lipids, and several types of cancers and several other nonfatal conditions like Osteoarthritis, Gout, breathing problems like sleep apnea, PCOD, Menstrual problems and associated infertility in women2. The most concerning fact is that, these obesity associated health adversities are seen in the most productive age group, 35-64 years.
Obesity is the condition characterized by the accumulation of excessive fat in the body to the extent which induces an adverse impact on the health of an individual2. To be simpler it is nothing but excess weight to the height of a particular individual.
Every year millions of people are struggling to lose extra pounds they had put on overtime. But this packed up lifestyle, several other distractions, and a plethora of junkies had made it impossible to achieve the goal of weight loss. In this run, people are spending a lot in gymnasiums and other weight loss techniques. But how many are fruitful? Whether we are concentrating on the root cause of this condition? Many associated illnesses interfere with weight reduction. In this situation, curbing the diet or vigorous exercise is not enough to get the needed results. People with co-morbidities face a greater challenge with these techniques alone. Hence more safer and reliable formulas in the form of herbal supplements has shown greater benefits in this situation. Curcumin, a bioactive component in Turmeric plays a significant role in maintaining weight in obese people with other illnesses. So let us discuss obesity and the role of curcumin in obesity.
Risk factors for obesity and associated illnesses
Several precipitating factors contribute to obesity. They can be explained under a different heading like,
Criteria for determining obesity
Body Mass Index (BMI) is an important criterion that helps to determine the obesity status of an individual. It is calculated by dividing the weight of an individual in kilograms by the square of height in meters (Kg/m2)2. World Health Organization (WHO) has classified obesity depending upon the value of BMI and helps to determine the health of an individual.
Classification in Adults 2
How do you get obese?
- One of the major causes of obesity is excess calorie consumption than calorie expenditure. So this over nutrition raise the fat cells in the body and they get deposition in several parts of body like under the skin, abdomen etc.
- Unhealthy eating habits like binge eating or disordered eating habits may end up in putting up some extra pounds.
- Genetic predisposition and existence of any genetic disorder may contribute to obesity.
- Hormonal dysfunction is yet another major causative factor that tends to develop obesity.
- Oxidative stress-mediated long-standing inflammation is an integral part of obesity. Thus obesity is a low grade inflammation mediated disease. This further increases the obesity associated complications5.
- Leptin, an inflammatory factor secreted in the fat tissue regulates the fat metabolism is highly increased in obese people4.
Role of Curcumin in obesity
Curcumin, an active ingredient in turmeric has shown promising results in the management of obesity. So how exactly, curcumin achieves the lipid homeostasis in the body?
- Bio-active curcumin suppresses the liver enzymes and hence lowers the total cholesterol, cholesterol in the liver, and nonhigh density lipoprotein (HDL)5.
- It is responsible for the inhibition of lipid synthesis and storage. It also increases the burning of fat5.
- Curcumin lowers the triglyceride levels and free fatty acid levels in the blood5.
- Obesity is associated with inflammation; curcumin helps in reducing the inflammation in the fat tissue by reduction of pro-inflammatory cytokines5.
- Curcumin, increases the BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate), thereby increasing the energy expenditure and weight loss5.
- Insulin resistance is an important event seen in obese individuals which prevent their cells from consuming calories. Curcumin effectively lowers the insulin resistance and maintains the energy balance in the body5.
- Leptin, a hormone secreted by fat cells that regulate fat metabolism and storage, is high in obese individuals. Curcumin inhibits the leptin release and helps in the effective utilization of fat stores in the body4,5.
- Oxidative stress increases the Body Mass Index (BMI), curcumin, being an anti-oxidant reduces the oxidative stress and resulting damage to the cells5.
The shreds of evidences suggest that, curcumin can be incorporated as a definitive candidate in a race against obesity6. Along with other measures like physical exercise, diet regulation and lifestyle modification one can include curcumin to cope up with the obesity and associated illnesses with expert advice.
It is very much necessary that our productive population should be aware of the alarming health adversities and economic burden caused by obesity and should take the adequate steps to curb it at the early stages.
1. Prevalence of obesity in India: A systematic review; Rajeev Ahirwar, Prakash Ranjan Mondal; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30641719/
2. Obesity – A Preventable Disease; F Ofei; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1790820/
3. The Epidemiology of Obesity: A Big Picture; Adela Hruby, PhD, MPH and Frank B. Hu, MD, PhD, MPH; Pharmacoeconomics. 2015 Jul; 33(7): 673–689.
4. Polar Curcuma longa extract inhibits leptin release by adipose tissue derived from overweight and obese people; Sa’ad Al-Lahham et.al.; European Journal of Inflammation;
5. Curcumin and obesity: Evidence and mechanisms; Lini Alappat, Atif B Awad; Nutrition Reviews 68(12):729-38.