Dealing With Obesity
Obesity refers to a medical condition that is typically diagnosed when your body mass index, or BMI for short, measures at 30 or higher. BMI is calculated by dividing your weight, usually in kilograms, by your height in meters squared.
BMI is generally thought of as a guideline for what the average healthy weight to height ratio is, but it is still somewhat relative. The reason for this is because BMI doesn’t directly measure body fat. Some people, like a muscular athlete, for instance, may have a BMI in the obese category even though they don’t have excess body fat. That’s why it’s important to ask your doctor if your BMI is a problem.
Ultimately, obesity occurs when an individual has an excessive amount of body fat. Obesity itself is not life-threatening, however, it increases the risk of diseases and other health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and bodily injury during physical activity. The more excessive a person’s obesity is, the more likely they are to have health problems related to their weight.
Fortunately, even modest weight loss can improve or prevent health problems commonly associated with this condition. Simple changes in diet, physical activity, and behavior can add up to help a person lose weight. There are also certain prescription medications and weight-loss surgery, but these are generally considered less safe than good old fashion diet and exercise and are typically not recommended except in extreme circumstances.
If you expect that you are obese, it is highly recommended to discuss the options with your doctor or health care practitioner. This is especially true if you believe you may be experiencing symptoms of weight-related health problems.
Obesity usually occurs when you take in more calories per day than you burn off through exercise and other normal daily activities. The body then stores these excess calories as fat. There are some genetic and hormonal influences on body weight and it can sometimes be traced to a medical cause, but these kinds of disorders are rare. Generally speaking, the main two causes of obesity are:
Weight gain is inevitable if you regularly eat more calories than you burn. Sadly, most American diets are too high in added sugar from high-calorie beverages, baked goods, and fast-food. Many of these food choices are several times over the daily recommended value for sugars and carbohydrates. This excessive caloric consumption can lead to rapid weight gain for many people who do not realize how much they are consuming. Did you know that just one 12-ounce can of the average soda contains 9.75 teaspoons of sugar? That’s about 39 grams, which is already over the recommended daily intake for both adults and children.
A sedentary lifestyle can easily cause a person to take in more calories each day than they burn off through exercise or other daily activities. Unfortunately, this lifestyle is becoming all too common as more and more work opportunities are based around technology like the internet and computers, and lead to positions that require sitting at a desk for many hours a day.
Obesity is a complex condition because everyone’s physiology is slightly different. There is no simple ‘cure’ for the condition, as it usually results from a combination of causes. Different contributing factors like a person’s metabolism, genetics, lifestyle and more can all play a part. Below are some of the most common contributing factors that can result in obesity.
Although obesity can occur at any age, it is more likely to occur the older you get. The reason for this is that as we age certain hormonal changes and a less active lifestyle become more and more common. Additionally, the amount of muscle in the body tends to decrease with age. This lower muscle mass can lead to a decrease in metabolism. If a person doesn’t consciously control what they eat and become more physically active as they age, they’ll likely gain weight due to the fact that these changes can also reduce caloric intake requirements.
There are some medical disorders that can be directly linked to obesity. Examples include Prader-Willi syndrome and Cushing’s syndrome.
In addition to some medical disorders, certain medications can also lead to weight gain if someone does not adequately compensate through diet and exercise. These medications generally include medications for diabetes, steroids and beta blockers, as well as some antidepressants, anti-psychotics, and epilepsy medications.
Simply put, if you’re not a very active person, you won’t burn as many calories as someone who exercises regularly. Contributing factors to inactivity include medical problems such as arthritis, or chronic pain that can lead to decreased physical activity. As well as jobs that require sedentary positions for many hours a day. Laziness can also be a contributing factor.
This is probably the most common culprit when it comes to the contributing factors for obesity. A diet that’s high in calories, added sugars, and carbohydrates all cause excess to be stored as fat in the body. These kinds of diets are usually lacking in fruits and vegetables, full of fast food and high-calorie beverages. Oversized portions also contribute to weight gain.
Social and Economic Factors
Some research has linked certain social and economic factors to obesity. It can be difficult to lose weight if you don’t have a safe area to exercise in. For instance, if a person is locked in the city and cannot afford exercise equipment in their home, or a gym membership.
Genetics may also play a part in how efficiently the body converts food into energy and how your body burns calories during exercise. Genes may also affect the amount of body fat you store, and where that fat is distributed in the body.
Similar to genetics, obesity tends to run in families. The reasons for this are two-fold. In addition to a genetic link, families tend to share similar eating and activity habits. If excessive consumption and high-calorie meals are being cooked by the parents for the kids, their chances of falling into similar eating habits increase exponentially.
There are also other factors not mentioned here, such as pregnancy or quitting smoking. If you have one or more of these risk factors, you can still counteract most of them through diet and exercise.
Obesity Linked Disease
Below is a list of conditions that a person is more likely to develop as a result of being obese:
- Type 2 Diabetes
- High Blood Pressure including high triglycerides and low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol
- Metabolic Syndrome
- Heart disease
- Breathing Disorders such as Sleep Apnea
- Gallbladder Disease
- Gynecological Problems, such as infertility and irregular periods
- Erectile dysfunction and sexual health issues
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition in which fat builds up in the liver and can cause inflammation or scarring
Sadly, in addition to increased risk from these medical conditions, obesity can also affect a person’s overall quality of life. Someone who gains a lot of weight may not be able to do things they used to, or do so at a greater risk of personal injury. They may avoid certain public places due to embarrassment. This is especially true of places like public swimming pools, beaches and water parks as obese people often encounter discrimination. As a result, many obese people experience symptoms related to these kinds of quality of life issues like social isolation, depression, disability, sexual problems, and lower achievement at work, etc.
If you’re currently obese, at risk of becoming obese, or even if you’re at a healthy weight, you can take steps to prevent health problems related to weight gain. A healthy diet, exercise, and a long-term commitment to watch what you eat and drink.
Most nutritionists recommend low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Whole grains aren’t bad either, but some weight loss experts may recommend a ketogenic diet (for rapid weight loss) which recommends avoiding virtually all foods that contain carbohydrates for a set time. Always avoid saturated fat and limit or completely cut sweets and alcohol if you can. Control portion sizes and limit snacking. A person can still enjoy high-fat, high-calorie food as an infrequent treat, but it’s better to avoid this if possible. If you cannot resist your sweet tooth, just remember to try to choose healthy foods most of the time. Additionally, supplementation is a great way to ensure proper nutrition while eating less. Certain supplements, like CBD oil and others, have even been shown to support healthy weight loss.
In order to prevent weight gain, a person needs to get at least 2-5 hours of moderate-intensity activity a week. Moderately intense physical activities include fast walking and swimming. Getting at least ten thousand steps a day on a pedometer can help ensure you are walking enough to prevent weight gain with normal caloric intake.
Avoid Bad Eating Habits
If you know certain situations are a trigger for unhealthy eating habits, it’s always best to avoid them. If you aren’t sure, try keeping a log of everything you eat and drink for two to four weeks, by the end you should be able to identify your problem foods, and the situations that cause you to consume them excessively. Sometimes by putting things down on paper, we’re able to more effectively come up with strategies to help change our lifestyle.
Don’t Fear the Scale
Avoiding a weight problem won’t make it go away, so it’s silly to assume avoiding the scale would help. Sure, it can be a little anxiety-inducing, but don’t get discouraged if you weight more at the end of the day than you did in the morning. On average, a person’s weight will fluctuate throughout the day, so it’s a good idea to weigh yourself frequently to get a better idea of your actual progress. Research shows people who weigh themselves at least once a week are more successful in keeping off excess pounds. Monitoring your weight can tell you whether your efforts are working or if you may need a new approach. If the figure on your scale doesn’t go down immediately after a day of effort, don’t fret. Often times we plateau just before breaking the threshold, which brings us to the next, and possibly the most important tip of all, being consistent.
That means eating right and exercising not only during the week, but also on the weekends. If you are serious about weight loss, this will mean sticking to your diet even on vacations and holidays. It won’t be as bad as it sounds once you start to see the results of your efforts pay off. Just remember, weight loss is a long term goal. Avoid assuming you can lose weight quickly, this often results in crash dieting, eating disorders and binge eating. If you have a moment of weakness and backslide due to some irresistible temptation, don’t let it discourage you.
Remember, perseverance is key. Just get back on the horse, or in this case the scale, and keep moving forward. Learn from mistakes and let minor weight gain inspire you to try harder next time to see those big weight loss results. Above all avoid complacency, just because you lost five pounds today does not mean you should reward yourself with an unhealthy treat and gain it back tomorrow. Remember, the main thing is to just keep moving forward, or moving in general as stagnation is the bane of weight loss.