Are You A Food Addict? Obesity- Watch What You Eat - Gistyou


Monday, 16 April 2018

Are You A Food Addict? Obesity- Watch What You Eat

Obesity is much more than a cosmetic concern and could be life threatening if left unchecked. Being obese increases the risk of developing hypertension and several other serious health problems. Adults and children may be affected and the incidence of childhood obesity is on the increase as a result of the popularity of “fast food”. 
junk food
It is important to note that several deaths are linked to obesity but the good news is that even a modest loss of weight can positively impact the state of health and bring obvious improvements with it. In a lot of cases, weight loss may be achieved by eating healthier, exercising regularly and making certain lifestyle changes. Some individuals do not respond to these measures and may require prescription medications and surgical intervention to assist in the weight-loss process.

An obese individual has an abnormally high proportion of body fat and Doctors define obesity as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or more. The BMI is a formula that uses weight and height to estimate body fat and associated health risks. The normal healthy range is 19 to 24. Between 25 and 29 is considered overweight and above 30 is described as obesity and at this stage a doctor must be consulted about ways to lose weight for health reasons. 

If most of the body fat is distributed around the waist or upper body, the individual is referred to as apple shaped. If the distribution is mainly around the thighs, hips or lower body the individual is referred to as pear shaped. For health reasons, it is much better to have a pear shape than an apple shape. Apple shaped individuals with pot-bellies or “spare tires” carry more fat in and around the abdominal organs which increases the risk of many of the life threatening conditions associated with obesity. For women an acceptable waist measurement should not be more than 35 inches while for men it should not be more than 40 inches.

How much weight an individual gains or loses is greatly determined by caloric consumption from food and beverages and the energy utilised by exercise or any form of physical activity. If an individual consumes more calories than are used as energy the result is weight gain. Unused calories or energy are stored in the body as fat.

Fat has the important functions of insulating the body and storing energy. The body is capable of handling the presence of some extra fat but there is a limit to the amount of fat that can be  safely stored as above a certain point good health may be compromised.

Eating too many calories and not getting enough exercise are the main causes of weight gain but there are many other factors which may also contribute to the development of obesity.

Foods that contribute to weight gain include greasy fast foods and foods containing processed carbohydrates and refined sugar such as pastries and soft drinks. These are high in calories. There may be psychological factors that could lead to weight gain as some individuals overeat to help them cope with emotional problems, stress or even boredom. They usually consume “Comfort Foods” that are very high in calories such as ice-cream, biscuits and chocolate. The chance of becoming obese is greatly increased if one or both parents are obese as genes may affect the amount of body fat that is stored as well as its distribution. With age, there is a tendency to become less active and muscle mass also decreases leading to a decrease in metabolism.

These changes with age reduce caloric requirements and if an effort is not made to reduce caloric intake the possibility of gaining weight is very high.

The tendency of smokers to gain weight after quitting has often been seen. This can be explained by the fact that Nicotine has the ability to increase metabolic rate. Without smoke, food smells and tastes better encouraging an increased intake. Do not smoke as a means to lose weight as smoking is still considered more hazardous to health than extra weight. Drinking alcohol adds a lot of calories to the diet and excessive drinking can stimulate appetite. 

A lot of women gain weight during pregnancy and find it very difficult to lose this after the baby is born. This may greatly contribute to the development of obesity and with successive pregnancies, this usually worsens. Certain medications such as antihypertensives, corticosteroids, antipsychotic drugs and tricyclic anti-depressants may lead to weight gain as well. In rare instances, obesity could be as a result of medical problems such as Cushing’s syndrome, Hypothyroidism and Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Debilitating conditions such as arthritis may lead to reduced physical activity and hence weight gain.

Dr Vivian Oputa is a Medical Practitioner and Specialist is Aesthetic Medicine, Surgery and Dermatology. She is the Medical Director of Dermacare Medical Ltd. She is also a Wellness Coach and Anti Aging Medicine Specialist. 

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