What is obesity?

Obesity is the most common nutrition-related disorder in the western world.  It is defined as an abnormal increase of fat in the subcutaneous connective tissues. It occurs when more calories are consumed than the body’s energy needs over a period of time. The excessive nutrition is then accumulated and stored as fat in the body.  In general, a person is considered obese when his/her body fatness is greater than normal standard by 20%.

 The commonest way to measure body composition is using Body Mass Index (BMI):

BMI = Weight (kg)         Healthy range is between 20-25

                      Height (m)2


BMI                                                              Grading                  

<18                                                              Very underweight

18-20                                                           Underweight

20-25                                                           O. Healthy weight

25-30                                                            I. Overweight

30-40                                                            II. Obesity

>40                                                                III. Morbid obesity



Why is it important to maintain your body weight?  It is not only because it is unpleased to look at but also obesity is a major leading cause of many chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases.  Many of these are often preventable if the body weight is controlled.


The Role of Chinese Medicine

     In Chinese Medicine theory, obesity is closed related to the disharmony of the digestion system that is the functions of the Spleen and Stomach.  The Spleen is dominating the digestion and transportation of food while the Stomach is receiving and “rotting” the food.  In addition, the Spleen Qi dominates ascending and the Stomach Qi descending in order to accomplish digestion, absorption, and transportation of food.  The Spleen and Stomach provide the material basis of the acquired constitution, and are regarded as the source to produce Qi and Blood.  When the Spleen and Stomach Qi are healthy, the functions of digestion, absorption, and transportation are vigorous.  When they are not working properly, all sorts of digestion problems such as loss of appetite, retention of food, abdominal distension, lassitude will result.  Therefore, the treatment principle is to regulate the functions of the Spleen and Stomach. 


     So, Chinese Medicine is a good adjuvant therapy with the dietician to control body weight.  It can help with the digestions and reduce anxiety of hunger without any side effects or feel lassitude.   However, it is not a panacea or a wonder cure in the treatment of weight control. But, the Chinese herbal medicine and the acupuncture are effective in making the process of losing weight easier and maintain that loss if the patient is willing to change their lifestyle.