Obesity Management: Emerging Role of Physiotherapists

Published on: 2018/05/24

Dr. Annu, MPT Neurology, Senior Physiotherapist & Wellness Consultant, Detox Clinic, Chandigarh, India

Dr. Himanshu Tanwar, BPT, Senior Physiotherapist, Detox Clinic, Chandigarh, India


Obesity is widely recognized as a disease state now and medical fraternity is coming forward to address the need to treat, manage or prevent it. Since exercise and physical activity are considered to play a major role in the management of obesity, physiotherapists are often the first contact person for secondary conditions resulting from obesity

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Obesity management

According to WHO, out of the total world population of 7.6 billion,  nearly 775 million people are obese, i.e. they have BMI above 30. Obesity is undoubtedly a major threat, if not an epidemic, to the public health. Out of this 775 million, nearly 125 million are children, according to 2017 data. The data also highlights a growing trend in obesity.

Obesity can lead to a number of illnesses that can be chronic, acute, or even fatal. Diabetes, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, cancer, and coronary vascular disease are some of the illnesses that are closely associated with obesity.

What causes obesity?

Sedentary lifestyle and addiction to high-calorie diets are the major causes of obesity. Over the recent years, we have seen a big shift in the eating habits of people. We depend on fast food, junk food, and food that contains additives. These additives cause overeating and food addiction. Added to this, our lifestyle changes have made us sedentary. Not exercising enough and eating too many results in the surplus energy being stored in our bodies as fat.

What is the medical treatment for obesity?

The medical treatment or management of obesity includes:

1. Dietary management

The main aim of obesity management is to bring down the body weight, which is achieved by dietary management. An obese person can regain the lost weight very soon if he is not maintaining the diet as prescribed by his physician or dietitian. A dietitian can help you design a diet that has a low-calorie intake. This diet would include high proteins, low fat and low carb depending on your medical conditions.

2. Lifestyle changes

The lifestyle changes include any alterations in your daily routine such as an addition of exercise plans or dietary changes. This would involve having a weight loss goal for a month and working every day to achieve it. In this case, usually your dietitian will record your physical activities and dietary intakes, and thus you can have control of the overall weight loss management.

3. Surgery

For people who have been unsuccessful in maintaining their diet or who are morbidly obese, the physician may suggest a bariatric surgery. A bariatric surgery could be performed if a person is more than 100 pounds or has a BMI over 40. In a bariatric surgery, the size of the stomach is reduced to make the person consume less quantity of food.

4. Weight loss drugs

The weight loss drugs approved by FDA such as Orlistat (Xenical), Beta-methyl-phenylethylamine, Phentermine, and sibutramine are prescribed by a physician after examining your physical conditions. These medicines help in increasing fat metabolism, blocks up to 30 percent of fat absorption, and also helps to suppress the appetite.

5. Physiotherapy

A physiotherapist guides people with obesity. He helps you with prescribing long-term weight loss exercises. Apart from exercises, there are many physiotherapy treatments that help you manage obesity.

Learn more about the role of physiotherapy in obesity management by Annu & Himanshu Tanwar, Detox Clinic, Chandigarh