Obesity, its implications beyond medical treatment, its origins and possible solutions were some of the axes on which the presentation ‘Obesity and Diabetes: Education The Key to Prevention?’ that was directed by Yiannis Mallis, General Manager and Vice President of Novo Nordisk Mexico. “The obesity is an illness. We have to be very clear, because in the past obesity was not treated as an illness,” said Mallis in the fourth edition of the Mexico Health Summit held on Thursday at the Sheraton María Isabel Hotel in Mexico City. “Prevention, education and awareness are critical in fighting obesity. Physicians and the general population need more information on this issue”.
Mallis, representative of one of the leading insulin manufacturers in the world, proposed several steps to start facing a disease that is expanding at high speeds, especially in regions with emerging economies. “To improve obesity treatments we must do four things: understand the disease, understand its impact, understand the patient and work in the search for a solution.”
“Obesity affects not only our quality of life, but also our life expectancy,” he said and marked its origins in several routines common in modern societies such as physical inactivity, lack of sleep, psychology and genetics. In addition, it can cause depression and anxiety.
The disease, he recalled, has had a great impact in Latin America. Mexico, for example, is the second country in the world with the highest rates of obesity, although the problem is global. “More than a third of the Mexican population is obese and another third is on the frontier of obesity,” said Mallis, who launched a question to the audience: “Should we focus on patients or on the people who can develop a condition in the future? The answer should be to focus on both.”
In terms of global data, Mallis said that there are 650 million obese people in the world, although there are no data on diagnoses. “Of those 650 million, only 11 million are receiving treatment,” Mallis said. Worrying data for a silent disease that however have their origin in a purely personal issue of each patient. “Eighty-two percent of patients recognize that obesity is completely their responsibility, which is why they do not seek medical help. Four out of every five Mexicans with obesity think they are just overweight,” he explained.
As one of the possible solutions, Mallis pointed out that losing between 5 and 10 percent of the weight can generate immediate benefits, since, for example, with that small percentage can limit cardiovascular risks. With this small decrease, Mallis said, “13,000 cases of cancer would be avoided by 2030.”
However, in his opinión to achieve this it is necessary to act from different fronts.””One action alone, like raising the tax on sugary drinks, is not going to be the solution that changes wellness culture in Mexico.”