Obesity is becoming increasingly prevalent among younger individuals

Article

11. 10. 2023

Dr. Iva Jakubíková, endocrinologist at Canadian Medical, notes, "When I was a child, I was more accustomed to seeing obesity in my grandparents and older neighbors who enjoyed Czech cuisine and beer. These days, this issue is affecting people in younger and younger age groups."

As I approach my thirties, what should I prioritise for my health?

Many women around the age of thirty take some time to assess their personal and professional lives. In today's fast-paced world, it's essential to prioritise both mental and physical well-being. Making time for oneself, maintaining a healthy diet, incorporating physical activity, and ensuring restful sleep are crucial. Adopting a healthy lifestyle can help prevent various illnesses. Regular check-ups, including gynaecological examinations, are also vital. For women planning to pregnancy, it's advisable to have their thyroid function assessed.

Why the emphasis on the thyroid gland?

Thyroid gland disorders are prevalent, affecting 5-10% of the population. Women are more susceptible than men, primarily due to iodine deficiency and the increasing incidence of autoimmune diseases in our country. Untreated thyroid gland disorders can have adverse effects on pregnancy, increasing the risk of miscarriage, complications, and potentially affecting the child's psychomotor development.

At present, the Czech Endocrinological Society is advocating for compulsory screening for thyroid disorders in pregnant women during regular gynaecology check-ups.

What are the typical causes of this condition?

The most common cause of thyroid gland dysfunction is the production of autoantibodies (aTPO, ATG) that have a negative impact on thyroid cells. Many women are subsequently diagnosed with chronic autoimmune thyroiditis and require treatment. Endocrinologists should educate women with this diagnosis to promptly report any pregnancy because it necessitates an increased intake of the synthetic hormone levothyroxine during this period.

Can this condition be prevented, or is it hereditary?

Autoimmune diseases cannot be prevented, and chronic autoimmune thyroiditis is often hereditary, particularly through the maternal line.

Does it limit a person's day-to-day life?

If thyroid gland function is reduced, we turn to replacement therapy with thyroid hormones. The medication dosage depends on the clinical presentation and blood test results. When treatment is well-adjusted, it does not significantly impede a person's life, as long as they remember to take their prescribed medication.

In your practice, you also address obesity. Is there a connection with thyroid gland disorders, or is that a misconception?

Thyroid gland disorders can lead to weight gain, but, in most cases, obesity results from an unhealthy lifestyle.

How much does a person's weight reveal about their health?

Each individual has a genetic predisposition for their appearance and weight. The battle against obesity can be a lifelong challenge for many people. It's crucial to strive for good physical and mental health. In this century, obesity is already negatively impacting children, leading to an earlier onset of lifestyle-related diseases in young adults.

Women of reproductive age who are overweight may encounter difficulties conceiving and face a higher risk of gestational diabetes. Therefore, adults, including younger individuals, experiencing these issues should schedule regular preventive check-ups with a general practitioner. Patient motivation is of paramount importance.

How is Czech society doing in terms of overweight and obesity, especially among women?

According to comprehensive data from Eurostat in 2019, 53% of Europeans have a BMI exceeding 25 kg/m2, signifying overweight or obesity. The Czech Republic ranks high, with men faring worse than women, at a ratio of 69.8 % to 50.6 %.

So can a person's physical condition be solely determined by BMI?

The basic calculation of body mass index (BMI, kg/m2 based on height) provides initial information. However, this value can be misleading, especially for highly muscular individuals. Two individuals with the same BMI can have differing body fat percentages, muscle mass, water content, and mineral levels.

What typically contributes to excess weight? Is overeating the main cause?

Obesity development results from several factors, some of which are within our control, while others, like genetics, are not. Most individuals become obese due to an unhealthy lifestyle, stress, sedentary jobs, irregular eating habits, including a preference for tasty yet high-calorie foods.

Why do people allow their weight to escalate when there's substantial awareness of the associated risks of obesity?

As a child, I was more accustomed to seeing obesity in my grandparents and older neighbors who savored traditional Czech cuisine and beer. Today, obesity is affecting younger individuals, but at the same time, people's awareness of the need to address weight issues is improving, and they are becoming more open to addressing these problems. Additionally, effective anti-obesity medications are now entering the market and can assist motivated patients under medical supervision.

What is your initial advice for individuals with excess weight?

Don't be ashamed; seek professional help, including consultation with a general practitioner.

Can anyone lose weight with strong determination?

For the most part, yes, but it's necessary to have realistic expectations.

What type of exercise is the healthiest option for overweight individuals?

Walking is a fundamental. It’s the most natural form of exercise for humans and can be effectively enhanced through Nordic Walking.

This article was created for Heroine magazine.

Dr. Iva Jakubíková, endocrinologist at Canadian Medical

 

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