Obesity-related diseases are considered to be one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Each year, at least 2.8 million people die from the consequences of being overweight or obese . With such shocking statistics, are weight and body shape as important as health itself?
It is first important to understand what we mean by “fat”, explains Dr. Caroline Robertson, general practitioner. When a person is classified as overweight (an adult with a BMI over 25-29.9), it indicates that they are over weight than what is considered “healthy”. When a person is classified as obese (an adult with a BMI over 30), this indicates the existence of a chronic disease characterized by excess body fat. If a person falls into either of these two categories, there is a host of serious health consequences to be feared and often imminent. “
These health consequences can be divided into two broad categories. First, there are the issues that can result from the fat mass enveloping the body – it ranges from obstructive sleep apnea, arthritis to social stigma and psychological issues.
Secondly, there is also a whole host of chronic diseases that can arise due to the high number of fat cells in the body. These include insulin resistance (pre-diabetes), type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, heart attack, congestive heart failure and arthritis of the hips, knees and lower back. According to Dr Robertson, “there is even some evidence to suggest that obesity can lead to cancer. Obesity is linked to colon cancer in men and women, rectal and prostate cancer in men, and gallbladder and uterine cancer in women. “
However, it is not a question here of frightening, because while the consequences can be serious, they are not totally irreversible. As is known, overweight is caused by a combination of excessive food, lack of physical exercise and genetic predisposition. And, while you can’t change your genes, you can certainly affect your surroundings and how active you are.
It’s important to remember that it is possible to turn the tide and reduce a lot of the health risks. But obesity cannot be cured with a short term solution, it is a lifelong process and you need to eat a quality diet and get enough exercise. The changes don’t have to be drastic either – for example, you don’t have to reach the ideal weight to experience the benefits of weight loss. Rather, the goal of treatment should be to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Statistics show that the success rate is much higher for those looking to achieve a weight loss of around 10-15%, unlike those who adopt extreme diets and measures. “
So, in concrete terms, what can be done to help reverse the trend? Here are tips from the experts:
The first thing to do is stop any additional weight gain and set a realistic goal. Then you need to set up a diet and exercise program.
Eat more nutritious “low energy density” foods like vegetables, fruits and lean meats – while avoiding foods high in saturated fat and sugars like cakes, fast food, chocolate and chips.
Try paying attention to food labels – learn about the nutritional value that is included in the dishes you eat and how much food you eat per day.
Get 20 to 30 minutes of moderate exercise five to seven days a week. Don’t get too locked into one activity – walking, cycling, jogging, or swimming – these sports activities work different muscle groups and will also be beneficial. And remember, you are never too old to make a difference.