Nearly 1 in 5 Canadians are classified as obese, based on their self-reported height and weight (1). Overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health, is a chronic condition.
The root causes of obesity are complex and may include:
Health behaviours (e.g. eating habits, physical activity and sedentary behaviours)
Built environment (e.g. neighbourhood design; accessibility to nutritious foods)
Policy environment (e.g. how food is advertised and sold)
Social and cultural norms (e.g. cultural values around food and body size/shape)
Other factors can include body glandular malfunctions, hormone imbalance, and emotional tension too.
A report of Public Health Agency of obesity in Canada (2) show obesity can contribute to:
Chronic diseases, including Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease (mainly heart disease and stroke), musculoskeletal disorders (especially osteoarthritis – a highly disabling degenerative disease of the joints) and some cancers (including endometrial, breast, ovarian, prostate, liver, gallbladder, kidney, and colon)
Mental health conditions and poor psychological well-being
Stigma, discrimination and social isolation
Increased social and economic costs
Chinese Medicine considers obesity is due to maladies of the spleen, stomach and kidneys. Sufferers have too much phlegm or dampness (water) in the body. Trying to lose weight through diet will have short-term results. A 'cold' food diet will further weaken the spleen. Sufferers should eat healthy food in moderation and do enough exercise.
Chinese Medicine practitioners will aim to strengthen the deficient organs, regulate neuroendocrine function, improve the metabolism and digestion, reduce water retention and optimize other bodily functions. Acupuncture is an amazing way to lose weight and reduce excess body fat. The acupuncture points around the fatty area (like big abdomen, oversize of thigh) and the points are related to spleen, stomach, kidney channels. Herbal medicine treatment is complicated in these cases, and specific treatment is recommended for each individual case, that is very helpful. Once the harmony of the body is restored to balance, the metabolism will process food properly, and excess weight should no longer be a problem, provided the correct foods are taken in moderate quantities.
A 2012 systematic review on use of Chinese medicine and acupuncture for treatment of obesity. There were 4,861 subjects in the treatment groups and 3,821 in the control groups, with treatment duration ranging from 2 weeks to 4 months, showed that Chinese Herbal Medicine and Acupuncture were more effective than lifestyle modification in reducing body weight. They had a similar efficacy as the Western anti-obesity drugs but with fewer reported adverse effects and relapses of weight regain.
Obesity is a major health hazard and despite lifestyle modification, many people frequently regain any lost body weight. The use of Western anti-obesity drugs had been limited by side effects including mood changes, suicidal thoughts, and gastrointestinal or cardiovascular complications. The effectiveness and safety of traditional Chinese medicine including Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture provide an alternative established therapy for this medical challenge (3).
(1) Public Health Agency of Canada. Key Health Inequalities in Canada: A National Portrait. Ottawa: Public Health Agency of Canada; 2018
(2) Public Health Agency of Canada. Obesity in Canada: A joint report from the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Institute for Health Information; 2011
(3) Sui Y, Zhao HL, Wong VC, et al. A systematic review on use of Chinese medicine and acupuncture for treatment of obesity. Obes Rev. 2012;13(5):409-430. doi:10.1111/j.1467-789X.2011.00979.x