Obesity or Sthaulya is the most common nutritional disorder in the present era. It has reached epidemic proportions globally with more than 1 billion adults overweight – atleast 300 million of them clinically obese – is a major contributor to the global burden of chronic diseases and disability.
Childhood obesity is also on rise. An estimated 22 million children under five are estimated to be overweight worldwide. The prevalence of obese children aged 6 -11 years is becoming a global problem and increasingly extending into the developing world.
Sthaulya – In Ayurveda , Sthaulya or obesity is considered as one of eight condemned human constitutions.
Sthaulya according to Ayurveda is – when a person is having excessive and abnormal increase of medodhatu ( fat tissue ) along with mamsadhatu ( muscle tissue ) and results in pendulous appearance of buttocks, belly, breasts and whose increased bulk mass is not equal to a corresponding increase in energy.
Obesity – Excess deposition of adipose tissue in the body is known as obesity. It exists when body weight is 120% above the ideal weight.
Hina Sthaulya (Overweight)
Madhyama Sthaulya (Obesity class 1& 2)
Adhika Sthaulya (Severe or Morbid Obese)
Mainly faulty diet and sedantary lifestyle. It can be classified into
1) Ahara 2) Vihara 3) Vichara 4) Bijadosha
1) Ahara ( Diet ) :
* Overeating, increased heavy, cold, sweet, oleogineous food articles.
* Low fiber diet
* Intake of excessive madhur rasa ( sweet ) during pregnancy leads to birth of obese child.
(Fats give taste to food ,which stimulates appetite centre and intake of food increases).
2) Vihara (Routine): Physical inactivity, lack of exercise, sleeping during daytime.
3) Vichara (Mental Status): Either no stress or excessive stress, depression, loneliness. (Ingestion of food has been used to reduce the feeling of emotional deprivation).
4) Bijadosha ( Heraditary )
- Nidan Parivarjana (Avoidance of causative factors)
- Samshodhan Chikitsa (Purificatory measures)
- Sanshaman Chikitsa (Palliative measures)
Nidan Parivarjana : The causative factors should be avoided.
Samshodhan Chikitsa:Lekhan Basti ( enemas ) , Udvartan ( massage with dry herb powders)
Sanshaman Chikitsa : It includes Diet, Physical activity and Herbs.
- Cereals & Pulses: Rice , oats , barley , green gram , bengal gram , horse gram, red lentil , kidney beans , pigeon pea .
- Vegetables & Fruits: Sponge gourd , horse radish , brinjal ,cucumber , ginger , radish , carrot , jamun ( java plum ) , bilva ( stone apple ) , three myrobalans (amalaki , haritaki , bibheetaka ) , kapith ( wood apple) , cardamom , black pepper , long pepper , citrus fruits.
- Fluids : Warm water , buttermilk , sesamum oil , mustard oil , honey .
These should be included in diet.
Physical activity should be increased. Research shows that exercise for 10 – 15 minutes at a stretch for 4 – 5 times a day is beneficial than doing exercise for 30 -40 minutes at a stretch.
Optimum time to prevent obesity is during age 5 – 10 years.
Yoga is beneficial in controlling obesity. Nadi shodhan pranayam , meditation and asanas mainly surya namaskar (Sun Salutations), paschimottanasana (Posterior Stretch Posture), suptapavanmuktasana (Lying wind release Posture ), bhujangasana (Cobra Posture), katichakrasana (Lumbar – Wheel Posture) etc help one’s body and mind to stick to the conviction and to work with firm determination.
The probable mode of action of drugs and regimen can be – They might decrease Ati kshudha and Atisthaulya by alleviation of Samana Vayu (activation of sympathetic nervous system & vagus nerve), elimination of meda avarana (reduction in leptin insensitivity and hyperlipidemia), dissolution of ama anna rasa ( decrease in hyper insulinemia and insulin insensitivity) ,alleviation of kledaka kapha (enhanced food inhibitor signals from GI hormones), alleviation of pachaka pitta ( decreased food initiating GI signals) and medodhatwagni vridhi (activation of autonomous innervation, increase in serum leptin activity, correction of insulin glucose metabolism ,catecholamine turnover,thyroid function).
Managing obesity needs perseverance. Make realistic targets, no crash diet and no excuses. Just make routine and stick to it.
- Charaka Samhita.
- Research work done at Gujrat Ayurved University, Jamnagar.
- Textbook of Medicine by Golwala.