Obesity and Prader-Willi Syndrome

Obesity is a complex disorder that implies gaining excessive amounts of body fat and weight that can lead up to numerous diseases and health complications such as cardio-vascular problems, high blood pressure, type II diabetes and osteoarthritis. Obesity is measured with the body mass index (BMI) and is diagnosed when the value is over 30 (kg/m2)


Prader-Willi Syndrome is a complex congenital condition that is characterized by obesity, weak muscle tone, delayed mental development and infertility. In infancy it implies feeding difficulties, poor growth and muscle weakness. Since childhood, the affected individual starts to develop an insatiable appetite which leads to obesity and related complications such as type II diabetes.



The main causes of obesity are excessive food intake and the lack of physical activity


Unhealthy diet and eating habits


Sedentary lifestyle, dependency on cars and avoidance of any physical effort


Insufficient sleep and high stress levels


Hormonal problems (imbalance, deficiencies)


Only in a few cases the primary cause for obesity is represented by genetics or rare medical conditions


Prader-Willi Syndrome:

The condition is caused by a defect (missing gene) on a segment of chromosome 15: either the father’s part of the chromosome is missing, or the mother’s part is in duplicate


The genetic changes that induce this condition occur by chance and usually the people that are affected do not have a family history of the condition

Symptoms and signs


Excessive body fat


Difficulties breathing, shortness of breath


Excessive sweating


Difficulties sleeping




Constant fatigue


Difficulties in performing physical activities


Joints and back pain due to the excessive weight


Can lead to depression due to low self-esteem and lack of confidence – influenced by body image


Prader-Willi Syndrome – the symptoms of this condition are specific in different life stages:

In uterus and after birth: very little movement of the fetus, abnormal fetal positions, polyhydramnios (excess of amniotic fluid), muscle weakness, lethargy, feeding difficulties (sucking reflex is affected by the muscle weakness), respiratory difficulties, hypogonadism (diminished gonad activity)


In childhood: delayed intellectual development and speech, crossed eyes (strabismus), poor physical coordination, over-eating and excess weight, excessive sleeping, short stature, delayed puberty


In adulthood: infertility, underdevelopment of sexual glands, obesity, low muscle tone, extreme flexibility, learning disabilities, prone to diabetes


Physical characteristics: small hands and feet, thin upper lip, almond-shaped eyes, excess fat, lack of sexual development, deficient motor coordination, soft skin with easy bruising tendency, high and narrow forehead




Keep your weight and diet in check


Check your BMI and waist circumference


Work together with your doctor to develop a treatment plan


Set realistic weight loss goals and treatment options that are convenient


Specialists you may need: an endocrinologist (to verify if there is a hormonal problem and/or seek treatment for the underlying condition), a nutritionist (to recommend a diet plan), a trainer (to assess your fitness level and figure out a suitable work out plan), a bariatric surgeon (if surgery is an option), a psychologist


Do not get discouraged – changes come in time


Keep a record of your weight loss journey and reward yourself when you achieve your goals (weekly, monthly, etc.)


Seek support from family, friends and specialists


Prader-Willi Syndrome:

During pregnancy: genetic testing is advised


Laboratory tests: glucose tolerance, insulin levels, oxygen levels


Therapies to improve muscle tone


Speech and occupational therapy


Growth hormone injections


Take up physical activities and hobbies


Hormone replacement therapies to help the levels of sex hormones


Education adapted to intellectual level and needs

  • Obesity:


    Small changes in calorie intake and minimum effort will produce big changes such as a remarkable long-term weight-loss.


    Breastfeeding protects the child from obesity later in life.


    Weight-loss is guaranteed if you eat more fruits and vegetables even if you don’t make any other changes in your diet and lifestyle.


    Snacking (even on healthy foods) will always lead to weight gain and obesity.


    Determination and a certain state of mind (diet readiness) are not important when it comes to weight-loss goals


    Prader Willi Syndrome:


    People with Prader-Willi syndrome cannot participate in sports


    Growth hormone therapy only influences the height of a person with Prader-Willi syndrome


    People that have this condition cannot live independent lives


    Children that are given this diagnose will never have academic achievements


    People with Prader-Willi will have speaking difficulties throughout their lives no matter what they do




Over one-third of the adults in the US are obese (approximately 78.6 million people)


Obesity is higher among middle-age adults (40-59 years old), than among younger ones or elders


Around 17% of the children and adolescents between 2 and 19 years old are obese


Prader-Willi Syndrome:


It is estimated that this condition affects 1 in 8,000 to 25,000 people worldwide


Around 400,000 people are living with this condition

Did you know?



Weight cycling (yo-yo dieting) tends to be associated with a higher mortality rate (due to the potential health complications)


Most of our eating habits are established in early childhood


Obesity was a sign of wealth during the Middle Ages and Renaissance


Prader Willi Syndrome:


The downsides of this condition can be overcome. There are various inspiring examples out there: teen Meagan Michie took up competitive swimming