A few kilograms of extra fat do not matter much to one’s health, initially. But, once this surplus fat starts piling on, it changes your personality into being overweight or obese. Obesity, then, brings with it many distress, which may not be apparent at first, – such as a rise in blood pressure, increased cholesterol, high blood sugar or diabetes – but it can make the malady more dangerous. Fortunately, there are many simple and effective strategies that can help to prevent overweight and obesity.
This article will help you identify the causes of obesity, its classification, treatment, as well as some simple steps for obesity prevention.
What are the key causes of obesity?
Identify below some key causes of obesity:
- Poor food choicesand habit such as:
- Eating high energy density processed foodssuch as breads, pastas, chips and fast food items that are made of refined ingredients and saturated fats
- Overeating due to emotions such as stress, boredom, anger or frustration
- Addiction for sugary foodssuch as desserts, sweets, pastries, processed cookies and chocolates.
- Avoiding healthy foodssuch as fibre-rich fruits, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables
- Infrequent eating patternlike consuming only two to three meals per day instead having four to five smaller meals a day.
- Genetics influence factors such as food cravings, high appetite, low metabolism, and uneven body fat distribution.
- Lack of physical activity and over involvement in TV, Internet and video games make us inactive for long hours and thus leads to obesity
- Sleep deprivationover a long period can cause hormonal changes in the body and subsequently affect your metabolism, thus leading to weight gain
- Underlying health conditionssuch as polycystic ovarian syndrome, hypothyroidism and osteoarthritis may also cause obesity.
How to evaluate weight and assess obesity?
Body Mass Index or BMI is the most widely used method for evaluating obesity. To calculate an individual’s body fat using the BMI method, individual’s weight (in kgs) is divided by the height (in meters) squared.
- Waist circumference measurement is anotherway to assess obesity. A waist circumference of more than 40 inches in men, while a circumference of more than 35 inches in women are considered obese.
Classification of overweight and obesity in adults and children
Obesity in adults can be classified as:
- Stage I or mild obesity: BMI of 30.0 to 34.9 kg/m2
- Stage II or moderate obesity: BMI of 35.0 to 39.9 kg/m2
- Stage III or severe: BMI of ≥40.0 kg/m2
In children, aged 2 to 19 years, a BMI between the 85th and 95th percentiles are considered as overweight. While a BMI ≥95th percentile is defined as obesity in children.
What are the best ways to prevent and treat obesity?
Practice these 8 easy strategies to prevent obesity and keeping it at bay, forever:
- Eat a calorie-curated, moderate diet, which includes a low-fat, high-fibre and low-calorie food such as whole grains, dried beans, green vegetables, nuts and seeds, etc.
- Burn the calories, you ate in a dayso as to maintain a healthy balance between regular exercise and a healthy diet.
- Maintain a food diary to keep a track of the intake of food and calories consumed.
- Track your BMI to keep a check on your weight and maintain it accordingly as per your height.
- Read food labels before purchasing to select low-fat, high-fibre and low-cal food. A food product termed as less than 40 calories per 100g of the food is termed low-calorie food.
- Limit intake of refined foodslike maida, refined white sugar, and refined white salt because these are rich in simple carbohydrates that can be easily absorbed by the body and stored as fat.
- Get a good night sleepof 6 to 7 hours to keep hormones and metabolism in control.
- Go for a routine health screening to stay informed about your health and get comorbid conditions evaluated, well on time.
If lifestyle modification alone doesn’t help you to lose weight, then your healthcare provider might suggest some medication for the treatment of obesity.
However, only in rare cases weight loss surgery or bariatric surgery may be recommended to treat obesity.
Remember, keeping obesity at bay completely depends on an individual’s commitment. So practice good lifestyle to stay fit and healthy!
To know more about obesity treatment and prevention strategies as well as to deal with obesity-related health issues, visit MakingIndiaHeartStrong webpage, today!
Q. What are the common symptoms of obesity?
If your knees, hips, and back have started hurting all the time and your usual flight of steps also feel tiring off late, plus your clothes fitting has also increased, then these are the signs of excess weight gain, which can slowly lead to obesity. Some other symptoms of obesity are:
- Breathlessness and excessive sweating
- Unable to do physical activity
- Exhaustion or tiredness
- Hormonal imbalance like irregular periods, mood swings
- Skin and hair issues
- Snoring or sleep apnea
- Lack of confidence, low self-esteem and feeling isolated
Better consult a specialist for timely prevention of obesity.
Q. What are obesity-related health complications?
Some of the major health complications associated with obesity include the following:
- Heart Diseases like arrhythmia (an irregular heart beat), atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), coronary artery disease (caused by build-up of plaque of heart’s arteries), etc.
- High Blood Pressure, also known as hypertension
- High cholesterol
- Type2 diabetes
- Sleep apnea
- Certain type of cancers including:
- Upper Stomach, Pancreas, Ovary
- Breast cancer
- Colon cancer and endometrial cancer
- Meningioma (cancer in the tissue covering brain and spinal cord)
- Fatty Liver Disease, a condition in which too much fat gets accumulated in the liver and gradually leads to liver inflammation and scarring (liver fibrosis)
Q. What happens if obesity is left unattended?
Obesity occurs when one’s body carries surplus weight or body fat and it is not just a cosmetic concern but a chronic medical condition. If left unaddressed for long, obesity can lead to prolonged health complications and can also reduce your life expectancy by an average of 3 to 10 years, depending on how severe it is.
Regular exercise accompanied with healthy diet, and healthy BMI ratio can help prevent obesity.
Q. Who is most likely to develop obesity?
Mostly, males with a waist circumference of 94cm (37in) or more and females with a waist circumference of 80cm (about 31.5in) or more are more likely to develop obesity-related health problems.
Q. What are the commonly recommended treatments for obesity and how are they done?
Only in rare cases, weight loss surgery or bariatric surgery may be recommended to treat obesity.
Broadly, bariatric surgery procedure can be categorized as gastric banding, gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, and restrictive combined with malabsorption i.e. intestinal bypass or the combination of the two procedures.
All these form surgeries are done laparoscopically.
Q. How to prevent obesity in children?
For preventing obesity in kids and children between 2 years to 18 years, as a parent you should:
- Practice breast-feeding infant
- Control potion size during mealtimes
- Ensure children eat only when they are hungry
- Inculcate eating healthy foods as a family
- Make them drink more water instead of sweetened drinks, juices and shakes
- Say no to eating-out packed chips and cookies too frequently
- Help them choose the healthy plater (less in fat and spices) when eating out at a restaurant.
- Ensure they get adequate sleep of 7 to 8 hours
- Control their time spent on TV, Internet, and video games
- Make sure they get plenty of outdoor exercise
Also, make sure you set a self-example as a parent to encourage your children to eat healthy and live a balanced lifestyle.
- Body mass index. Centers for Disease Control Web site. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/index.html. Accessed May 26, 2010.Google Scholar
- Barlow SE. Expert committee recommendations regarding the prevention, assessment, and treatment of child and adolescent overweight and obesity: summary report. Pediatrics. 2007; 120(suppl 4):S164–S192.CrossrefMedli n