Obesity is a dreaded word, and for good reason. It is related to serious diet related chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke, and certain forms of cancer.
The health consequences range from increased risk of premature death, to serious chronic conditions that reduce the overall quality of life.
The prevalence of overweight and obesity is commonly assessed by using body mass index (BMI), defined as the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters (kg/m2).
Hydroxycitric acid (HCA) is the principal acid of the fruit rinds of Vrikshamla (Garcinia cambogia), and it has been found to limit the synthesis of fatty acids in the muscles and liver.
Overweight and obesity are a result of energy imbalance over a long period of time, which results from extra calorie consumptio, decreased calories used (reduced physical activity) or both.
Personal choices concerning calorie consumption and exercise can lead to energy imbalance. Energy imbalances are also seen in cases of increased cholesterol (hyperlipidaemia).
The causes of energy imbalance may be due to a combination of several factors. Individual behaviours, environmental factors, and genetics all contribute to the complexity of the obesity epidemic.
Obesity is one of the eight undesirable physical conditions described in Charaka Samhita, one of the Ayurvedic texts. It is known as Athisthaulya in Ayurveda.
According to Ayurveda, the causative factors in obesity are bad lifestyle habits, which include excessive intake of food rich in proteins, carbohydrates and fats, and food that is not freshly cooked, lack of physical activity and increased sleep during daytime. Obesity also can be inherited.
Ayurveda advises therapies aimed at reducing body weight such as dry powder massage and intake of food that is free from fat and spice.
Intake of foods such as honey and ginger, which are low in fat and reduce fat accumulation in the body, are encouraged. Other foods that are recommended in the treatment of obesity are barley, green gram, horse gram, snake gourd and hydromel (honey mixed with water).
Changes in lifestyle habits such as reducing sleep during daytime, increasing physical activity, indulging in mental calisthenics, all of which are to be undertaken in a gradual manner, are recommended.
Various herbs such as Vrikshamla (Garcinia cambogia), Guggulu (Commiphora wightii), Meshashringi (Gymnema sylvestre), Haritaki (Terminalia chebula), and Medhika (Trigonella foenum-graecum) are also recommended for the treatment of obesity.