Obesity (Excess Weight)

Obesity (excess weight) is defined as having excessive amount of body fat. This disorder arises when you have a high calorie intake but you do not burn enough energy due to inactivity. Obesity (excess weight) is not an outcome of inactivity alone but can be attributed to other factors as well. These may include:

  • Genetics: your genes may affect the amount of body fat you store

  • Family lifestyle: family members share similar eating habits therefore chances are that one or both of your parents are obese, you have a higher risk of getting obese

  • Psychological factors: some people tend to over eat in response to negative emotions such as anger, sadness or boredom

  • Certain illnesses: certain illnesses can lower the metabolism or increase appetite leading to obesity

  • Certain medications

​You should take obesity (excess weight) seriously as it is not just a cosmetic concern, it is a serious disorder. Obesity can lead to bigger health problems such as heart diseases, diabetes and high blood pressure.

You should calculate your body mass index (BMI) to determine if you are obese. BMI is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height squared in centimetres. If your BMI is more than 30, you are obese.
If your BMI is above 30 or you are concerned about your general health due to an increase in your weight, you can visit a doctor at the Family Health Services for a consultation about your health disorder.

You can also visit a doctor at the Internal Medicine Service Line at the Aga Khan University Hospital if your obesity is caused by another medical disorder.​
Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.

Your doctor may start off by taking your medical history in detail and ask you about your overall lifestyle including your eating and exercising habits. This will be followed by a physical exam to check your vital signs, weight, height, blood pressure and temperature along with measuring your waist circumference to determine the fat store around your waist. For further analysis of the effects of obesity on your general health, you may be asked to undergo some tests, which may include:

  • Blood test to find out your cholesterol level and liver functions

  • A fasting glucose test

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG) in which sensors will be placed on your chest to measure the electrical activity of the heart

  • Thyroid test to check if the thyroid gland is functioning normally​​

Obesity (excess weight) can be a challenge, but a little effort on your part to lose even a modest amount of weight can prevent you from serious health problems. Successful treatment of obesity will require your utmost commitment and willingness to lose weight by adopting a healthier lifestyle, including permanent changes in your eating and exercising habits. The changes should be long term as it is recommended to lose your weight gradually, to keep it off permanently. 

Your doctor can offer you comprehensive, state-of-the-art medical care and guide you to undertake the following measures: 

  • Lower your calorie intake but continue to consume an appropriate amount of diet so you do not feel drained and lethargic

  • Adopt a comprehensive weight loss program that focuses on losing weight gradually

  • Increase the intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grain carbohydrates.

  • Incorporate at least half an hour of moderate physical activity in your daily routine to maintain your weight loss. Gradually increase your exercising duration for better results.

  • Increase mobility by choosing stairs instead of elevators, parking your car a bit further away from your destination and walking the distance, increasing your household chores.

  • If obesity (excess weight) was a result of an eating disorder triggered by some psychological factors, consider therapy or counselling.

If lifestyle changes are unsuccessful or unsuitable for you, your doctor may direct you towards the following treatments:

  • Weight loss medications if you have diabetes, high blood pressure or sleep apnea due to obesity. Medications are only effective if you continue to implement the lifestyle changes stated above. You may be closely monitored while taking prescription.

  • Weight loss surgery if you have severe obesity. At The Aga Khan University Hospital, the GI and Surgery Service Line offers Bariatric Surgery options, which include restrictive procedures to decrease stomach size resulting in decreased food intake. These procedures can also be a combination of restrictive and by-pass procedures, resulting in decreased food intake and decreased food absorption from the small intestine.The bariatric surgical procedures offered by the Hospital include:

    • Laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy: the procedure involves removal of a large part of the stomach, only leaving a narrow gastric "tube" or "sleeve". This limits the amount of food intake by an individual.

    • Laparoscopic gastric by-pass: the procedure involves stapling the top of your stomach, sealing it off from the rest of the stomach. This is called the pouch. The small size of the pouch holds lesser food, prompting you to eat less and lose weight. The surgeon then connects a small part of your intestine to a small hole in your pouch, by-passing the rest of the stomach so the food you eat travels from the pouch into the new opening and then the small intestine. This makes the body absorb fewer calories.

    • Laparoscopic gastric banding: the procedure involves placing a band around the upper part of your stomach to create a small pouch to hold food. This reduces the size of the stomach making you feel full sooner.

    • Endoscopic Intragastric balloon: the procedure involves inserting a balloon in the stomach, which occupies a large portion of it. The balloon remains in the stomach for a defined period, which limits the amount of food intake.

Although either of these treatments can lead to a drastic loss of weight, it is only through maintenance of behaviour modification and dietary compliance to determine long term success of the procedures.​​

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage​

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

​The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.