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.

Causes

Obesity:

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

Obesity:

Excessive body fat

 

Difficulties breathing, shortness of breath

 

Excessive sweating

 

Difficulties sleeping

 

Snoring

 

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

 

Advice

Obesity:

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

MISCONCEPTIONS
  • 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

Statistics

Obesity:

 

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?

Obesity:

 

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