Ways To Fight Obesity – For millions of people all over the world, each day is a struggle to attain that perfect body weight, the ideal size, that flawless figure. Their greatest battle is not against food, but with themselves. It is not that they don’t try hard enough; some people have been successful in losing weight, but then they have regained it, as well. Losing weight and maintaining it is a formidable challenge for those who are obese.
People have tried various kinds of exercises, a wide range of diets, pills and other types of medication but nothing has helped them to reach their goal. In order to find a solution to this rampant problem, one ought to understand it first.
What is Obesity?
Obesity is a medical condition that is characterized by storage of excess body fat. Fat stored in the body acts as a protective cushion for vital organs and protects the body from extreme temperatures. Although, fat is critical for good health, our body only needs a small amount of it. Accumulation of too much body fat can lead to a variety of chronic diseases. Research indicates that people who are obese or overweight are more likely to develop disorders such as diabetes mellitus, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, joint disease, coronary artery disease, stroke and, in all likelihood, some forms of cancer. Millions of people die every year because of cardiovascular disease alone.
The body mass index or simply BMI, which is a measure of an individual’s weight in relation to height, is used to define obesity. People whose BMI ranges from 25.0 to 29.9 are thought to be on the heavy side while those with a body mass index of thirty and above are considered obese. Conversely, BMI provides only a rough estimate of suitable weight. For instance, a person might weigh more because of high percentage of muscle tissue whereas a person with a normal BMI may have excess of fat tissue. But generally, persons with a high BMI are said to be at a greater risk of developing serious medical conditions.
The problem of obesity is not being faced by developed countries alone. Even developing countries are catching up with them in terms of so-called modern convenience food, consumption of which has led to an increase in obesity. These processed foods are laden with saturated fats, high levels of sodium and simple sugars, and lack in vitamins and minerals found naturally in complex carbohydrates.
Obesity has become a worldwide epidemic. Throughout the world, the number of overweight adults has crossed 1 billion and there are over 300 million adults who are obese. Obesity rates have doubled over the past 30 years. It is estimated that around 3 million deaths are caused due to obesity related diseases every year around the globe. It is for this reason that the World Health Organization has recognized obesity as one of the major global health problems.
The Factors Responsible for Obesity
1. Genes At Work
There are some people who can eat any kind of high calorie food without gaining any significant amount of weight. While there are others, who may gain pounds just by one lick of an ice-cream! Genetic inheritance greatly contributes to the tendency of an individual to become obese or stay thin.
Studies suggest that genes contribute substantially to the development of obesity and the tendency to binge. There has been a recent discovery of a genetic mutation that is particularly related with binge eating. However, even the obese people without the genetic mutation have the pattern of binge eating.
According to a new study, obesity in kids is triggered by two genetic variations, which are very commonly found in people. These genes have the greatest impact during the early years of life and grow weaker as the individual turns into an adult.
The fact should not be ignored that genes are not solely responsible for obesity, except in the case when a person is suffering from a single-gene disorder or syndrome. A healthy lifestyle can considerably reduce an individual’s genetic susceptibility to obesity.
2. The Role Of Hormones
There are hormones that do not allow our bodies to cross that stable range of weight that has been created over the years. When a person gains weight, the hunger reduces and when a person loses weight, the hunger increases. It is for this reason that after consciously losing weight, people often regain it soon afterwards. Leptin, a hormone produced by fat cells, plays a key role in this homeostatic procedure. It is responsible for reducing our food intake. Unfortunately, overweight people are resistant to its effects so it won’t be able to reduce their intake of food.
Another hormone grehlin, which is produced by the stomach, acts as a powerful appetite stimulator. Normally, grehlin levels increase before we have a meal and decrease after we have eaten. A dose of grehlin can make an individual extremely hungry. People with a rare disorder Prader-Willi syndrome have high levels of grehlin. As a result, they are extremely obese and often die before the age of 30 due to obesity related cause.
3. Sociocultural Influences
Our environment influences us and our behavior in ways that we are unaware of. The culture of our society is such that it cheers feasting and daunts exercise. Our minds have become so conditioned that it is not easy for us to break this unhealthy pattern.
Even the food industry knows how to manipulate us into buying more than we require. The fast-food restaurants serve large portions of food which tempt us to consume more.
Another culprit is time pressure. Our life has become so fast-paced that we do not have time to adopt healthy practices. We take the elevator instead of the stairs, we drive instead of walking or cycling and we do not have time to prepare food. So, we are far more dependent on packaged or processed food than we should be.
4. Family Influences
Many times, it has been seen that family behavior patterns are the main causes for excessive eating and obesity. Some families religiously follow a pattern of high-fat, high calorie diet which they consider to be ‘healthy’ food. They tend to overemphasize the importance of eating. In such families, being fat is thought to be a sign of good health. Consequently, the children are compelled by family members to eat more than they want. In other families, eating is way of dealing with stress and emotional problems.
People who are fat have a higher number of adipose (fat) cells as compared to people of normal weight. Some evidence indicates that even after they lose weight, the number of adipose cells remains the same. It is possible that infants or children who are overfed maybe more vulnerable to weight problems in adulthood as a result of the large number of adipose cells present in their body.
5. Stress and Comfort Food
When a person is feeling low, he doesn’t go and have broccoli. It is food high in fat content or carbohydrates that he craves for when depressed. Chocolates, ice cream, donuts, chips are the kind of food that console us when our spirits are low. Employees who feel stressed and burdened state they prefer to eat foods high in fat and sugar rather than healthy foods as they make them calm.
Research has found that a remarkably large percentage of people with an eating disorder binge eat when they feel emotionally disturbed, angry, anxious or disheartened. Most of us have become habituated to eat in response to a variety of environment stimuli. For instance, while watching television, at parties, etc. This unnecessary eating habit is what leads to unexpected weight gain.
Losing weight and keeping it off is a tough challenge to complete, especially for those who are suffering from obesity. Still through consistent efforts one can achieve success.
1. Weight-loss Groups
There are many weight-loss groups that conduct programs for individuals who are willing to lose weight. The advantage of being a part of such groups is that they are non-judgmental. Not only do they educate and teach you ways to monitor your daily diet, but also provide emotional support and encouragement. For this reason, members of such groups are more successful in losing weight as their peers help them to stay motivated.
There are two categories of medications that help in weight loss – one group reduces eating by suppressing appetite whereas the other prevents some of the nutrients present in food from being absorbed by the body.
One FDA approved medication to be used in combination with a low-calorie diet is sibutramine. It inhibits the chemical reabsorption serotonin and norepinephrine. People who use it for 6 months normally lose 5 to 8 percent of their body weight.
Orlistat is another medicine that works by reducing the amount of fat present in the food that can be absorbed once in enters the body.
3. Gastric Surgery
For people who are extremely obese and are prone to life-threatening conditions, gastric bypass surgery is an option they can choose. The surgery comprises of inserting lines of staples in the intestines to create a small pouch for food that can hold the contents of only a shot glass.
After the surgery, patients often lose about 60% of their excess weight and are able to maintain the lost weight even a decade after surgery, although, in some cases, the patient might regain some weight within the first 18 months. Nevertheless, morbidly obese people do choose to take this risk.
4. Psychological Treatments
Behavioral-management methods are the most effective psychological procedures for obese patients. A number of methods using self-monitoring, self-reward and positive reinforcement can lead to significant weight loss over a period of time. Cognitive-behavioral methods are found to be helpful in getting rid of the problem of binge eating. However, only the ones who can stay highly motivated can effectively loosely weight and keep it off, as well. People suffering from a severe medical condition tend to be more motivated than others. People whose lives are at risk due to obesity are willing to go to any lengths to win their life back.
But the fact should not be ignored that going on a low-calorie diet to achieve quick weight loss will only result in regain of the lost weight. One should take up a more gradual weight loss program so as maintain it for a longer duration. It takes patience, determination, a positive outlook and firm belief in oneself but it works.
5. Avoiding weight Gain
Over an 8 year period, an individual is bound to gain about 14 to 16 pounds. Most of the inevitable weight gain can be avoided by following some simple steps:
- Increasing energy expenditure and reducing food consumption
- Cut down 100 calories per day or daily walk an extra mile
- Eat three fewer bites of food when you have a meal
- Take the stairs, walk or cycle more
By following these simple steps you will be able to avoid weight gain as you age and also, improve the quality of our health.
Obesity may seem like an unbeatable problem, but look around you and you will find several people who have triumphed over this life-threatening condition with perseverance and faith. It is only a matter of time before you succeed in achieving a healthy body.