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What is obesity?

Being obese means having so much body fat that your health is in danger. Having too much body fat can lead to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis ,sleep apnoea, and stroke.

 

How do you know if you are obese?

You can use a measurement called a body mass index, or BMI, along with your waist size, to determine whether your weight is dangerous to your health. Your body mass index is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms (kg) by your height in meters (m) squared.

If you have a BMI of 30 or higher, unhealthy eating patterns, and too little physical activity, your extra weight is putting your health in danger.

People who carry too much fat around the middle, rather than around the hips, are more likely to have health problems.

  • In women: a waist size of 88 cm or more.
  • In men: a waist size of 101 cm or more.

What causes obesity?

Although there are genetic, behavioural and hormonal influences on body weight, obesity occurs when you take in more calories than you burn through exercise and normal daily activities. Your body stores these excess calories as fat.

The principal causes of obesity are:

  • Inactivity. If you're not very active, you don't burn as many calories.
  • Unhealthy diet and eating habits. Weight gain is inevitable if you regularly eat more calories than you burn.

What are the contributing factors of Obesity:

Obesity usually results from a combination of causes and contributing factors, including:

  • Genetics. .
  • Family lifestyle.
  • Inactivity. 
  • Unhealthy diet. 
  • Medical problems.
  • Certain medications. .
  • Social and economic issues. 
  • Age. 
  • Pregnancy.
  • Quitting smoking.
  • Lack of sleep.

Complications of obesity are:

If you're obese, you're more likely to develop a number of potentially serious health problems, including:

  • High cholesterol
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Cancer
  • Breathing disorders
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Gynaecological problems, such as infertility
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Osteoarthritis

Obesity affects quality of life:

  • You may not be able to do things you used to do, such as participating in enjoyable activities. Obese people may even encounter discrimination.

Other weight-related issues that may affect your quality of life include:

  • Depression
  • Disability
  • Sexual problems
  • Shame and guilt
  • Social isolation
  • Lower work achievement

What you can do?

You can begin to make choices that will help you start to lose weight, including:

  • Start making healthy changes in your diet. Include more fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your diet. Begin to reduce portion sizes.
  • Begin increasing your activity level. Try to get up and move around your home more frequently. Start gradually if you aren't in good shape or aren't used to exercising.

Treatments available:

  • The goal of obesity treatment is to reach and stay at a healthy weight. You may need to work with a team of health professionals - including a dietitian, behaviour counsellor or an obesity specialist - to help you understand and make changes in your eating and activity habits.
  • All weight-loss programs require changes in your eating habits and increased physical activity. 

Other treatment tools include:

  • Dietary changes
  • Exercise and activity
  • Behaviour change
  • Prescription weight-loss medications
  • Weight-loss surgery

  1. 1.    Dietary changes

Reducing calories and practicing healthier eating habits are vital to overcoming obesity.

Dietary changes to treat obesity include:

  • Cutting calories. Reduce your calorie intake.
  • Feeling full on less. Fruits and vegetables, have lower energy density and provide a larger portion size with a fewer number of calories.
  • Making healthier choices.  Eat more:

- plant based foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole-grain carbohydrates.
- sources of protein: beans, lentils, soy
- lean meats.
- include fish twice a week.
- Limit salt and added sugar.
- Stick with low-fat dairy products.
- Eat small amounts of fats, such as olive, canola and nut oils.

  • Restricting certain foods: high-carbohydrate or full-fat foods.
  • Meal replacements.  Replace one or two meals with low-calorie shakes or meal bars, and eat a balanced third meal that's low in fat and calories.
  • Be wary of quick fixes. You may be tempted by fad diets that promise fast and easy weight loss.
  1. 2.    Exercise and activity

To boost your activity level:

  • Exercise at least 150 minutes a week
  • Keep moving. Even though regular aerobic exercise is the most efficient way to burn calories and shed excess weight, any extra movement helps burn calorie.
  1. 3.    Behaviour changes

Behaviour modification, sometimes called behaviour therapy, can include:

  • Counselling. 
  • Support groups. 
  1. 4.    Prescription weight-loss medication

Your doctor may recommend weight-loss medication if other methods of weight loss haven't worked for you and you meet the following criteria:

  • Your body mass index (BMI) is above 30
  • Your BMI is greater than 27, and you also have medical complications of obesity
  1. 5.    Weight-loss surgery

Weight-loss surgery for obesity may be considered if you have tried other methods to lose weight that haven't worked and:

  • You have extreme obesity
  • Your BMI is 35 to 39.9, and you also have a serious weight-related health problems
  • You're committed to making the lifestyle changes that are necessary for surgery to work

Prevention of unhealthy weight gain

  • Whether you're at risk of becoming obese, currently overweight or at a healthy weight, you can take steps to prevent unhealthy weight gain and related health problems. Not surprisingly, the steps to prevent weight gain are the same as the steps to lose weight: daily exercise, a healthy diet, and a long-term commitment to watch what you eat and drink.
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