How to overcome obesity: Obesity – Symptoms and causes
Obesity – Symptoms and causes
Obesity is a complex disease involving an excessive amount of body fat. Obesity isn’t just a cosmetic concern. It’s a medical problem that increases the risk of other diseases and health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and certain cancers.
There are many reasons why some people have difficulty losing weight. Usually, obesity results from inherited, physiological and environmental factors, combined with diet, physical activity and exercise choices.
The good news is that even modest weight loss can improve or prevent the health problems associated with obesity. A healthier diet, increased physical activity and behavior changes can help you lose weight. Prescription medications and weight-loss procedures are additional options for treating obesity.
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Body mass index (BMI) is often used to diagnose obesity. To calculate BMI, multiply weight in pounds by 703, divide by height in inches and then divide again by height in inches. Or divide weight in kilograms by height in meters squared.
|30.0 and higher||Obesity|
Asians with BMI of 23 or higher may have an increased risk of health problems.
For most people, BMI provides a reasonable estimate of body fat. However, BMI doesn’t directly measure body fat, so some people, such as muscular athletes, may have a BMI in the obesity category even though they don’t have excess body fat.
Many doctors also measure a person’s waist circumference to help guide treatment decisions. Weight-related health problems are more common in men with a waist circumference over 40 inches (102 centimeters) and in women with a waist measurement over 35 inches (89 centimeters).
When to see a doctor
If you’re concerned about your weight or weight-related health problems, ask your doctor about obesity management. You and your doctor can evaluate your health risks and discuss your weight-loss options.
Although there are genetic, behavioral, metabolic and hormonal influences on body weight, obesity occurs when you take in more calories than you burn through normal daily activities and exercise. Your body stores these excess calories as fat.
In the United States, most people’s diets are too high in calories — often from fast food and high-calorie beverages. People with obesity might eat more calories before feeling full, feel hungry sooner, or eat more due to stress or anxiety.
Many people who live in Western countries now have jobs that are much less physically demanding, so they don’t tend to burn as many calories at work. Even daily activities use fewer calories, courtesy of conveniences such as remote controls, escalators, online shopping and drive-through banks.
Obesity usually results from a combination of causes and contributing factors:
Family inheritance and influences
The genes you inherit from your parents may affect the amount of body fat you store, and where that fat is distributed. Genetics may also play a role in how efficiently your body converts food into energy, how your body regulates your appetite and how your body burns calories during exercise.
Obesity tends to run in families. That’s not just because of the genes they share. Family members also tend to share similar eating and activity habits.
- Unhealthy diet. A diet that’s high in calories, lacking in fruits and vegetables, full of fast food, and laden with high-calorie beverages and oversized portions contributes to weight gain.
- Liquid calories. People can drink many calories without feeling full, especially calories from alcohol. Other high-calorie beverages, such as sugared soft drinks, can contribute to significant weight gain.
- Inactivity. If you have a sedentary lifestyle, you can easily take in more calories every day than you burn through exercise and routine daily activities. Looking at computer, tablet and phone screens is a sedentary activity. The number of hours spent in front of a screen is highly associated with weight gain.
Certain diseases and medications
In some people, obesity can be traced to a medical cause, such as Prader-Willi syndrome, Cushing syndrome and other conditions. Medical problems, such as arthritis, also can lead to decreased activity, which may result in weight gain.
Some medications can lead to weight gain if you don’t compensate through diet or activity. These medications include some antidepressants, anti-seizure medications, diabetes medications, antipsychotic medications, steroids and beta blockers.
Social and economic issues
Social and economic factors are linked to obesity. Avoiding obesity is difficult if you don’t have safe areas to walk or exercise. Similarly, you may not have been taught healthy ways of cooking, or you may not have access to healthier foods. In addition, the people you spend time with may influence your weight — you’re more likely to develop obesity if you have friends or relatives with obesity.
Obesity can occur at any age, even in young children. But as you age, hormonal changes and a less active lifestyle increase your risk of obesity. In addition, the amount of muscle in your body tends to decrease with age. Generally, lower muscle mass leads to a decrease in metabolism. These changes also reduce calorie needs and can make it harder to keep off excess weight. If you don’t consciously control what you eat and become more physically active as you age, you’ll likely gain weight.
- Pregnancy. Weight gain is common during pregnancy. Some women find this weight difficult to lose after the baby is born. This weight gain may contribute to the development of obesity in women.
- Quitting smoking. Quitting smoking is often associated with weight gain. And for some, it can lead to enough weight gain to qualify as obesity. Often, this happens as people use food to cope with smoking withdrawal. In the long run, however, quitting smoking is still a greater benefit to your health than is continuing to smoke. Your doctor can help you prevent weight gain after quitting smoking.
- Lack of sleep. Not getting enough sleep or getting too much sleep can cause changes in hormones that increase appetite. You may also crave foods high in calories and carbohydrates, which can contribute to weight gain.
- Stress. Many external factors that affect mood and well-being may contribute to obesity. People often seek more high-calorie food when experiencing stressful situations.
- Microbiome. Your gut bacteria are affected by what you eat and may contribute to weight gain or difficulty losing weight.
Even if you have one or more of these risk factors, it doesn’t mean that you’re destined to develop obesity. You can counteract most risk factors through diet, physical activity and exercise, and behavior changes.
People with obesity are more likely to develop a number of potentially serious health problems, including:
- Heart disease and strokes. Obesity makes you more likely to have high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol levels, which are risk factors for heart disease and strokes.
- Type 2 diabetes. Obesity can affect the way the body uses insulin to control blood sugar levels. This raises the risk of insulin resistance and diabetes.
- Certain cancers. Obesity may increase the risk of cancer of the uterus, cervix, endometrium, ovary, breast, colon, rectum, esophagus, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, kidney and prostate.
- Digestive problems. Obesity increases the likelihood of developing heartburn, gallbladder disease and liver problems.
- Sleep apnea. People with obesity are more likely to have sleep apnea, a potentially serious disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep.
- Osteoarthritis. Obesity increases the stress placed on weight-bearing joints, in addition to promoting inflammation within the body. These factors may lead to complications such as osteoarthritis.
- Severe COVID-19 symptoms. Obesity increases the risk of developing severe symptoms if you become infected with the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). People who have severe cases of COVID-19 may require treatment in intensive care units or even mechanical assistance to breathe.
Quality of life
Obesity can diminish the overall quality of life. You may not be able to do physical activities that you used to enjoy. You may avoid public places. People with obesity may even encounter discrimination.
Other weight-related issues that may affect your quality of life include:
- Shame and guilt
- Social isolation
- Lower work achievement
Sept. 02, 2021
Obesity causes & treatments – Illnesses & conditions
If you’re obese, speak to your GP for advice about losing weight safely.
Your GP can advise you about losing weight safely by eating a healthy, balanced diet and regular physical activity.
They can also let you know about other useful services, such as:
- local weight loss groups – these could be provided by your local authority, the NHS, or commercial services you may have to pay for
- exercise on prescription – where you’re referred to a local active health team for a number of sessions under the supervision of a qualified trainer
If you have underlying problems associated with obesity, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), high blood pressure, diabetes or obstructive sleep apnoea, your GP may recommend further tests or specific treatment. In some cases, they may refer you to a specialist.
Read more about how your GP can help you lose weight
There’s no single rule that applies to everyone, but to lose weight at a safe and sustainable rate of 0. 5 to 1kg (1lb to 2lbs) a week, most people are advised to reduce their energy intake by 600 calories a day.
For most men, this will mean consuming no more than 1,900 calories a day, and for most women, no more than 1,400 calories a day.
The best way to achieve this is to swap unhealthy and high-energy food choices – such as fast food, processed food and sugary drinks (including alcohol) – for healthier choices.
A healthy diet should consist of:
- plenty of fruit and vegetables
- plenty of potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and other starchy foods (ideally you should choose wholegrain varieties)
- some milk and dairy foods
- some meat, fish, aggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein
- just small amounts of food and drinks that are high in fat and suagr
Try to avoid foods containing high levels of salt because they can raise your blood pressure, which can be dangerous for people who are already obese.
You’ll also need to check calorie information for each type of food and drink you consume to make sure you don’t go over your daily limit.
Some restaurants, cafés and fast food outlets provide calorie information per portion, although providing this information isn’t compulsory. Be careful when eating out because some foods can quickly take you over the limit, such as burgers, fried chicken, and some curries or Chinese dishes.
Diet programmes and fad diets
Avoid fad diets that recommend unsafe practices, such as fasting (going without food for long periods of time) or cutting out entire food groups. These types of diets don’t work, can make you feel ill, and aren’t sustainable because they don’t teach you long-term healthy eating habits.
This isn’t to say that all commercial diet programmes are unsafe. Many are based on sound medical and scientific principles and can work well for some people.
A responsible diet programme should:
- educate you about issues such as portion size, making behavioural changes and healthy eating
- not be overly restrictive in terms of the type of foods you can eat
- be based on achieving gradual, sustainable weight loss rather than short-term rapid weight loss, which is unlikely to last
Very low calorie diets
A very low calorie diet (VLCD) is where you consume less than 800 calories a day.
These diets can lead to rapid weight loss, but they aren’t a suitable or safe method for everyone, and they aren’t routinely recommended for managing obesity.
VLCDs are usually only recommended if you have an obesity-related complication that would benefit from rapid weight loss.
VLCDs shouldn’t usually be followed for longer than 12 weeks at a time, and they should only be used under the supervision of a suitably qualified healthcare professional.
Speak to your GP first if you’re considering this type of diet.
Reducing the amount of calories in your diet will help you lose weight, but maintaining a healthy weight requires physical activity to burn energy.
As well as helping you maintain a healthy weight, physical activity also has wider health benefits. For example, it can help prevent and manage more than 20 conditions, such as reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes by 40%.
The Chief Medical Officers recommend that adults should do at least 150 minutes (two-and-a-half hours) of at least moderate-intensity activity a week – for example, five 30-minute bouts a week. Something is better than nothing, and doing just 10 minutes of exercise at a time is beneficial.
Moderate-intensity activity is any activity that increases your heart and breathing rate, such as:
Alternatively, you could do 75 minutes (one hour, fifteen minutes) of vigorous-intensity activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity.
During vigorous activity, breathing is very hard, your heart beats rapidly and you may be unable to hold a conversation. Examples include:
- most competitive sports
- circuit training
You should also do strength and balance training two days a week. This could be in the form of a gym workout, carrying shopping bags, or doing an activity such as tai chi. It’s also critical that you break up sitting (sedentary) time by getting up and moving around.
Read more about strength and balance exercises.
Your GP, weight loss adviser or staff at your local sports centre can help you create a plan suited to your own personal needs and circumstances, with achievable and motivating goals. Start small and build up gradually.
It’s also important to find activities you enjoy and want to keep doing. Activities with a social element or exercising with friends or family can help keep you motivated. Make a start today – it’s never too late.
Read more about the physical activity guidelines for adults and the physical activity guidelines for older adults.
Other useful strategies
Evidence has shown that weight loss can be more successful if it involves other strategies, alongside diet and lifestyle changes. This could include things like:
- setting realistic weight loss goals – if you’re obese, losing just 3% of your original body weight can significantly reduce your risk of developing obesity-related complications
- eating more slowly and being mindful of what and when you’re eating – for example, not being distracted by watching TV
- avoiding situations where you know you may be tempted to overeat
- involving your family and friends with your weight loss efforts –they can help to motivate you
- monitoring your progress – for example, weigh yourself regularly and make a note of your weight in a diary
Getting psychological support from a trained healthcare professional may also help you change the way you think about food and eating. Techniques such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be useful.
Avoiding weight regain
It’s important to remember that as you lose weight your body needs less food (calories), so after a few months, weight loss slows and levels off, even if you continue to follow a diet.
If you go back to your previous calorie intake once you’ve lost weight, it’s very likely you’ll put the weight back on. Increasing physical activity to up to 60 minutes a day and continuing to watch what you eat may help you keep the weight off.
Many different types of anti-obesity medicines have been tested in clinical trials, but only one has proved to be safe and effective: orlistat.
You can only use orlistat if a doctor or pharmacist thinks it’s the right medicine for you. In most cases, orlistat is only available on prescription. Only one product (Alli) is available over the counter directly from pharmacies, under the supervision of a pharmacist.
Orlistat works by preventing around a third of the fat from the food you eat being absorbed. The undigested fat isn’t absorbed into your body and is passed out with your faeces (stools). This will help you avoid gaining weight, but won’t necessarily cause you to lose weight.
A balanced diet and exercise programme should be started before beginning treatment with orlistat, and you should continue this programme during treatment and after you stop taking orlistat.
When orlistat should be used
Orlistat will usually only be recommended if you’ve made a significant effort to lose weight through diet, exercise or changing your lifestyle.
Even then, orlistat is only prescribed if you have a:
- body mass index (BMI) of 28 or more, and other weight-related conditions, such as high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes
- BMI of 30 or more
Before prescribing orlistat, your doctor will discuss the benefits and potential limitations with you, including any potential side effects (see below).
Treatment with orlistat must be combined with a balanced low-fat diet and other weight loss strategies, such as doing more exercise. It’s important that the diet is nutritionally balanced over three main meals.
If you’re prescribed orlistat, you’ll also be offered advice and support about diet, exercise and making lifestyle changes.
Orlistat isn’t usually recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Dosage and duration of treatment
One orlistat capsule is taken with water immediately before, during or up to one hour after, each main meal (up to a maximum of three capsules a day).
If you miss a meal, or the meal doesn’t contain any fat, you shouldn’t need to take the orlistat capsule. Your doctor should explain this to you, or you can check the patient information leaflet that comes with your medicine.
Treatment with orlistat should only continue beyond three months if you’ve lost 5% of your body weight. It usually starts to affect how you digest fat within one to two days.
If you haven’t lost weight after taking orlistat for three months, it’s unlikely to be an effective treatment for you. Consult your doctor or pharmacist, as it may be necessary to stop your treatment.
Taking orlistat with other health conditions
See your GP before starting treatment with orlistat if you have another serious health condition, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or kidney disease, which you’re taking medication for. It may be necessary to change the dose of your medicine.
If you have type 2 diabetes, it may take you longer to lose weight using orlistat, so your target weight loss after three months may therefore be slightly lower.
If orlistat has helped you lose weight after three months, your prescription may be continued for up to a year. After that, your GP will carry out a review and decide whether you should continue taking it.
Common side effects of orlistat include:
- fatty or oily stools
- needing the toilet urgently
- passing stools more frequently
- an oily discharge from your rectum (you may have oily spots on your underwear)
- flatulence (wind)
- stomach pain
- upper respiratory tract infections, such as a cold
These side effects are much less likely to occur if you stick to a low-fat diet.
Women taking the oral contraceptive pill should use an additional method of contraception, such as a condom, if they experience severe diarrhoea while taking orlistat. This is because the contraceptive pill may not be absorbed by your body if you have diarrhoea, so it may not be effective.
Weight loss surgery, also called bariatric surgery, is sometimes used to treat people who are severely obese.
Bariatric surgery is usually only available on the NHS to treat people with severe obesity who fulfil all of the following criteria:
- they have a BMI of 40 or more, or between 35 and 40 and another serious health condition that could be improved with weight loss, such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure
- all appropriate non-surgical measures have been tried, but the person hasn’t achieved or maintained adequate, clinically beneficial weight loss
- the person is fit enough to have anaesthesia and surgery
- the person has been receiving, or will receive, intensive management as part of their treatment
- the person commits to the need for long-term follow-up
Bariatric surgery may also be considered as a possible treatment option for people with a BMI of 30 to 35 who have recently (in the last 10 years) been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
In rare cases, surgery may be recommended as the first treatment (instead of lifestyle treatments and medication) if a person’s BMI is 50 or above.
Treating obesity in children
Treating obesity in children usually involves improvements to diet and increasing physical activity using behaviour change strategies.
The amount of calories your child should eat each day will depend on their age and height. Your GP should be able to advise you about a recommended daily limit, and they may also be able to refer you to your local family healthy lifestyle programme.
Children over the age of five should ideally get at least one hour (60 minutes) of vigorous-intensity exercise a day, such as running or playing football or netball. Sedentary activities, such as watching television and playing computer games, should be restricted.
Read more about the physical activity guidelines for children and young people
Referral to a specialist in treating childhood obesity may be recommended if your child develops an obesity-related complication, or there’s thought to be an underlying medical condition causing obesity.
The use of orlistat in children is only recommended in exceptional circumstances, such as if a child is severely obese and has an obesity-related complication.
Bariatric surgery isn’t generally recommended for children, but may be considered for young people in exceptional circumstances, and if they’ve achieved, or nearly achieved, physiological maturity.
Extreme Obesity, And What You Can Do
Too much weight can take a toll on your body, especially your heart. The good news is that there are steps you can take to get healthier — and even losing a little body weight can start you on the right path.
Why lose weight?
If you’re extremely obese, losing weight can mean “less heart disease, less diabetes and less cancer,” said Robert Eckel, M.D., past president of the American Heart Association. “Metabolic improvements start to occur when people with extreme obesity lose about 10 percent of their body weight.”
Losing weight can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke; risk factors like high blood pressure, plasma glucose and sleep apnea. It can also help lower your total cholesterol, triglycerides and raise “good” cholesterol — HDL.
Understanding Extreme Obesity
A healthy BMI ranges from 17.5 – 25 kg/m2. If your body mass index is 40 or higher, you are considered extremely obese (or morbidly obese.) Check out the American Heart Association’s BMI calculator for adults to determine if your weight is in a healthy range. (Note: BMI in children is determined using a different BMI calendar from the CDC(link opens in new window).)
A woman is extremely obese if she’s 5 feet, 4 inches tall and weighs 235 pounds, making her BMI 40.3 kg/m2. To reach a healthy BMI of 24.8, she would have to lose 90 pounds to reach a weight of 145 pounds.
A man is extremely obese if he’s 6 feet, 2 inches tall and weighs 315 pounds, making his BMI 40.4 kg/m2. To reach a healthy BMI of 25.0, he would need to lose 120 pounds to reach a weight of 195 pounds.
Doctors use BMI to define severe obesity rather than a certain number of pounds or a set weight limit, because BMI factors weight in relation to height.
How to Get Healthier
If you’re extremely obese, taking action to lose weight and improve your health may seem overwhelming. You may have had trouble losing weight or maintaining your weight loss, been diagnosed with medical problems and endured the social stigma of obesity.
“The key to getting started is to find a compassionate doctor with expertise in treating extreme obesity,” said Dr. Eckel, who is also professor of medicine and Charles A. Boettcher II Chair in Atherosclerosis at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Colo. “Bonding with your physician is the best way to get past first base and on the path to better health.”
If you’re extremely obese, Dr. Eckel recommends that you become more active, but not to start a vigorous workout program without getting physician advice and not until you’ve lost about 10 percent of your body weight.
“You can continue the level of physical activity that you’re already doing, but check with your physician before increasing it,” Dr. Eckel said. “Some people with extreme obesity may have health issues like arthritis or heart disease that could limit or even be worsened by exercise.”
Talk to your doctor about the health benefits and the risks of treatment options for extreme obesity:
Change your diet. You may be referred to a dietician who can help you with a plan to lose one to two pounds per week. To lose weight, you have to reduce the number of calories you consume. Start by tracking everything you eat.
“You have to become a good record-keeper,” Dr. Eckel said. “Reduce calories by 500 calories per day to lose about a one pound a week, or cut 1,000 calories a day to lose about two pounds a week.”
Consider adding physical activity after reaching a minimum of 10 percent weight-loss goal.
Medication. Some people can benefit from medication to help with weight loss for extreme obesity. Keep in mind that medication can be expensive and have side effects.
Surgery. If changing your diet, getting more physical activity and taking medication haven’t helped you lose enough weight, bariatric or “metabolic” surgery may be an option. The American Heart Association recommends surgery for those who are healthy enough for the procedure and have been unsuccessful with lifestyle changes and medication. Risks can include infections and potentially dangerous blood clots soon after the operation, and concerns about getting the right amount of vitamins and minerals long-term.
Get The Social Or Medical Support You Need
Although some people can modify their lifestyle and lose weight on their own, many need extra help. A social support system can help encourage your progress and keep you on track. Decide what support best fits your needs — either a weight-loss support group or one-on-one therapy.
Some people with extreme obesity suffer from depression. Talk to your doctor about the best treatment, as some anti-depressant medications can cause weight gain.
Strategies to Prevent & Manage Obesity | Overweight & Obesity
There is no single or simple solution to the obesity epidemic. It’s a complex problem and there has to be a multifaceted approach. Policy makers, state and local organizations, business and community leaders, school, childcare and healthcare professionals, and individuals must work together to create an environment that supports a healthy lifestyle. There are several ways state and local organizations can create a supportive environment to promote healthy living behaviors that prevent obesity.
State and Local Programs
Resources are available to help disseminate consistent public health recommendations and evidence-based practices for state, local, territorial and tribal public health organizations, grantees, and practitioners.
Knowing your body mass index (BMI), achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, and getting regular physical activity are all actions you can take for yourself to combat obesity.
To reverse the obesity epidemic, community efforts should focus on supporting healthy eating and active living in a variety of settings. Learn about different efforts that can be used in early childhood care, hospitals, schools, and food service venues.
The key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight isn’t short-term dietary changes; it’s about a lifestyle that includes healthy eating and regular physical activity.
- Assessing Your Weight
BMI and waist circumference are two screening tools to estimate weight status and potential disease risk.
- Healthy Weight
A high BMI can be an indicator of high body fatness. Visit the Healthy Weight Website; learn about balancing calories, losing weight, and maintaining a healthy weight.
- ChooseMyPlateexternal icon
Healthy eating habits are a key factor for a healthy weight. Visit the ChooseMyPlate Website; look up nutritional information of foods, track your calorie intake, plan meals, and find healthy recipes.
- Physical Activity Basics
Physical activity is important for health and a healthy weight. Learn about different kinds of physical activity and the guidelines for the amount needed each day.
- Tips for Parents
Learn about the seriousness of childhood obesity and how to help your child establish healthy behaviors.
Preventing Obesity in Children, Teens, and Adults
Facts about prevention
Obesity is a chronic disease affecting increasing numbers of children, teens and adults. Obesity rates among children in the U.S. have doubled since 1980 and have tripled for teens. About 17% of children aged 2 to 19 are considered obese, compared to over 35% of adults who are considered obese.
Earlier onset of type 2 diabetes, heart and blood vessel disease, and obesity-related depression and social isolation in children and teens are being seen more often by healthcare professionals. The longer a person is obese, the more significant obesity-related risk factors become. Given the chronic diseases and conditions associated with obesity and the fact that obesity is hard to treat, prevention is extremely important.
A primary reason that prevention of obesity is so vital in children is because the likelihood of childhood obesity persisting into adulthood increases as the child ages. This puts the person at high risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC, breastfed babies are less likely to become overweight. The CDC also reports that the longer babies are breastfed, the less likely they are to become overweight as they grow older. However, many formula-fed babies grow up to be adults of healthy weight. If your child was not breastfed, it does not mean that he or she cannot achieve a healthy weight.
Children and teens
Young people generally become overweight or obese because of poor eating habits and lack of physical activity. Genetics and lifestyle also contribute to a child’s weight status.
Recommendations for prevention of overweight and obesity during childhood and teens include:
Gradually work to change family eating habits and activity levels rather than focusing on a child’s weight.
Be a role model. Parents who eat healthy foods and participate in physical activity set an example so that a child is more likely to do the same.
Encourage physical activity. Children should have 60 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week. More than 60 minutes of activity may promote weight loss and provide weight maintenance.
Reduce “screen” time in front of the television and computer to less than 1 to 2 hours daily.
Encourage children to eat only when hungry and to eat slowly.
Don’t use food as a reward or withhold food as a punishment.
Keep the refrigerator stocked with fat-free or low-fat milk, fresh fruit, and vegetables instead of soft drinks and snacks high in sugar and fat.
Serve at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
Encourage children to drink water rather than beverages with added sugar. These include soft drinks, sports drinks, and fruit juice drinks.
Many of the strategies that produce successful weight loss and maintenance help prevent obesity. Improving eating habits and increasing physical activity play a vital role in preventing obesity. Recommendations for adults include:
Keep a food diary of what you ate, where you ate, and how you were feeling before and after you ate.
Eat 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. A vegetable serving is 1 cup of raw vegetables or 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables or vegetable juice. A fruit serving is 1 piece of small to medium fresh fruit, 1/2 cup of canned or fresh fruit or fruit juice, or 1/4 cup of dried fruit.
Choose whole grain foods, such as brown rice and whole wheat bread. Don’t eat highly processed foods made with refined white sugar, flour, high-fructose corn syrup and saturated fat.
Weigh and measure food to be able to learn correct portion sizes. For example, a 3-ounce serving of meat is the size of a deck of cards. Don’t order supersized menu items.
Learn to read food nutrition labels and use them, keep the number of portions you are really eating in mind.
Balance the food “checkbook.” If you eat more calories than you burn you will gain weight. Weigh yourself on a weekly basis.
Don’t eat foods that are high in “energy density,” or that have a lot of calories in a small amount of food. For example, an average cheeseburger with and order of fries can have as much as 1,000 calories and 30 or more grams of fat. By ordering a grilled chicken sandwich or a plain hamburger and a small salad with low-fat dressing, you can avoid hundreds of calories and eliminate much of the fat intake. For dessert, have a serving of fruit, yogurt, a small piece of angel food cake, or a piece of dark chocolate instead of frosted cake, ice cream, or pie.
Simply reducing portion sizes and using a smaller plate can help you lose weight.
Aim for an average of 60 to 90 minutes or more of moderate to intense physical activity 3 to 4 days each week. Examples of moderate intensity exercise are walking a 15-minute mile, or weeding and hoeing a garden. Running or playing singles tennis are examples of more intense activities.
Look for ways to get even 10 or 15 minutes of some type of activity during the day. Walking around the block or up and down a few flights of stairs is a good start.
Physical Activity | Obesity Prevention Source
Exercise Can Help Control Weight
Obesity results from energy imbalance: too many calories in, too few calories burned. A number of factors influence how many calories (or how much “energy”) people burn each day, among them, age, body size, and genes. But the most variable factor-and the most easily modified-is the amount of activity people get each day.
Keeping active can help people stay at a healthy weight or lose weight. It can also lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and certain cancers, as well as reduce stress and boost mood. Inactive (sedentary) lifestyles do just the opposite.
Despite all the health benefits of physical activity, people worldwide are doing less of it-at work, at home, and as they travel from place to place. Globally, about one in three people gets little, if any, physical activity. (1) Physical activity levels are declining not only in wealthy countries, such as the U.S., but also in low- and middle-income countries, such as China. And it’s clear that this decline in physical activity is a key contributor to the global obesity epidemic, and in turn, to rising rates of chronic disease everywhere.
The World Health Organization, the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, and other authorities recommend that for good health, adults should get the equivalent of two and a half hours of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each week. (2–4) Children should get even more, at least one hour a day. There’s been some debate among researchers, however, about just how much activity people need each day to maintain a healthy weight or to help with weight loss, and the most recent studies suggest that a total of two and a half hours a week is simply not enough.
This article defines physical activity and explains how it is measured, reviews physical activity trends, and discusses the role of physical activity in weight control.
Definitions and Measurement
Though people often use physical activity and exercise interchangeably, the terms have different definitions. “Physical activity” refers to any body movement that burns calories, whether it’s for work or play, daily chores, or the daily commute. “Exercise,” a subcategory of physical activity, refers to -planned, structured, and repetitive- activities aimed at improving physical fitness and health. (5) Researchers sometimes use the terms “leisure-time physical activity” or “recreational physical activity” as synonyms for exercise.
Experts measure the intensity of physical activity in metabolic equivalents or METs. One MET is defined as the calories burned while an individual sits quietly for one minute. For the average adult, this is about one calorie per every 2.2 pounds of body weight per hour; someone who weighs 160 pounds would burn approximately 70 calories an hour while sitting or sleeping. Moderate-intensity physical activity is defined as activities that are strenuous enough to burn three to six times as much energy per minute as an individual would burn when sitting quietly, or 3 to 6 METs. Vigorous-intensity activities burn more than 6 METs.
It is challenging for researchers to accurately measure people’s usual physical activity, since most studies rely on participants’ reports of their own activity in a survey or daily log. This method is not entirely reliable: Studies that measure physical activity more objectively, using special motion sensors (called accelerometers), suggest that people tend to overestimate their own levels of activity. (6)
Worldwide, people are less active today than they were decades ago. While studies find that sports and leisure activity levels have remained stable or increased slightly, (7–10) these leisure activities represent only a small part of daily physical activity. Physical activity associated with work, home, and transportation has declined due to economic growth, technological advancements, and social changes. (7,8,10,11) Some examples from different countries:
- United States. In 1950, 30 percent of Americans worked in high-activity occupations; by 2000, that proportion had dropped to only 22 percent. Conversely, the percentage of people working in low-activity occupations rose from about 23 percent to 41 percent. (8) Driving cars increased from 67 percent of all trips to work in 1960 to 88 percent in 2000, while walking and taking public transit to work decreased. (8) About 40 percent of U.S. schoolchildren walked or rode their bikes to school in 1969; by 2001, only 13 percent did so. (12)
- United Kingdom. Over the past few decades, it’s become more common for U.K. households to own second cars and labor-saving appliances. (13) Work outside the home has also become less active. In 2004, about 39 percent of men worked in active jobs, down from 43 percent in 1991-1992. (11)
- China. Between 1991 and 2006, work-related physical activity in China dropped by about 35 percent in men and 46 percent in women; women also cut back on physical activity around the house-washing clothes, cooking, cleaning-by 66 percent. (10) Transportation-related physical activity has also dropped-no surprise, perhaps, given that car ownership is on the rise: Sales of new cars in China have gone up by about 30 percent per year in recent years. (14)
The flip side of this decrease in physical activity is an increase in sedentary activities-watching television, playing video games, and using the computer. Add it up, and it’s clear that globally, the “energy out” side of the energy balance equation is tilting toward weight gain.
How Much Activity Do People Need to Prevent Weight Gain?
Weight gain during adulthood can increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. Since it’s so hard for people to lose weight and keep it off, it’s better to prevent weight gain in the first place. Encouragingly, there’s strong evidence that staying active can help people slow down or stave off “middle-age spread”: (13) The more active people are, the more likely they are to keep their weight steady; (15,16) the more sedentary, the more likely they are to gain weight over time. (17) But it’s still a matter of debate exactly how much activity people need to avoid gaining weight. The latest evidence suggests that the recommended two and a half hours a week may not be enough.
The Women’s Health Study, for example, followed 34,000 middle-age women for 13 years to see how much physical activity they needed to stay within 5 pounds of their weight at the start of the study. Researchers found that women in the normal weight range at the start needed the equivalent of an hour a day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity to maintain a steady weight. (18)
Vigorous activities seem to be more effective for weight control than slow walking. (15,19,20) The Nurses’ Health Study II, for example, followed more than 18,000 women for 16 years to study the relationship between changes in physical activity and weight. Although women gained, on average, about 20 pounds over the course of the study, those who increased their physical activity by 30 minutes per day gained less weight than women whose activity levels stayed steady. And the type of activity made a difference: Bicycling and brisk walking helped women avoid weight gain, but slow walking did not.
How Much Activity Do People Need to Lose Weight?
Exercise can help promote weight loss, but it seems to work best when combined with a lower calorie eating plan. (3) If people don’t curb their calories, however, they likely need to exercise for long periods of time-or at a high intensity-to lose weight. (3,21,22)
In one study, for example, researchers randomly assigned 175 overweight, inactive adults to either a control group that did not receive any exercise instruction or to one of three exercise regimens-low intensity (equivalent to walking 12 miles/week), medium intensity (equivalent to jogging 12 miles/week), or high intensity (equivalent to jogging 20 miles per week). All study volunteers were asked to stick to their usual diets. After six months, those assigned to the high-intensity regimen lost abdominal fat, whereas those assigned to the low- and medium-intensity exercise regimens had no change in abdominal fat. (21)
More recently, researchers conducted a similar trial with 320 post-menopausal women, randomly assigning them to either 45 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic activity, five days a week, or to a control group. Most of the women were overweight or obese at the start of the study. After one year, the exercisers had significant decreases in body weight, body fat, and abdominal fat, compared to the non-exercisers. (23)
How Does Activity Prevent Obesity?
Researchers believe that physical activity prevents obesity in multiple ways: (24)
- Physical activity increases people’s total energy expenditure, which can help them stay in energy balance or even lose weight, as long as they don’t eat more to compensate for the extra calories they burn.
- Physical activity decreases fat around the waist and total body fat, slowing the development of abdominal obesity.
- Weight lifting, push-ups, and other muscle-strengthening activities build muscle mass, increasing the energy that the body burns throughout the day-even when it’s at rest-and making it easier to control weight.
- Physical activity reduces depression and anxiety, (3) and this mood boost may motivate people to stick with their exercise regimens over time.
The Bottom Line: For Weight Control, Aim for an Hour of Activity a Day
Being moderately active for at least 30 minutes a day on most days of the week can help lower the risk of chronic disease. But to stay at a healthy weight, or to lose weight, most people will need more physical activity-at least an hour a day-to counteract the effects of increasingly sedentary lifestyles, as well as the strong societal influences that encourage overeating.
Keep in mind that staying active is not purely an individual choice: The so-called “built environment”-buildings, neighborhoods, transportation systems, and other human-made elements of the landscape-influences how active people are. (25) People are more prone to be active, for example, if they live near parks or playgrounds, in neighborhoods with sidewalks or bike paths, or close enough to work, school, or shopping to safely travel by bike or on foot. People are less likely to be active if they live in sprawling suburbs designed for driving or in neighborhoods without recreation opportunities.
Local and state governments wield several policy tools for shaping people’s physical surroundings, such as planning, zoning, and other regulations, as well as setting budget priorities for transportation and infrastructure. (27) Strategies to create safe, active environments include curbing traffic to make walking and cycling safer, building schools and shops within walking distance of neighborhoods, and improving public transportation, to name a few. Such changes are essential to make physical activity an integral and natural part of people’s everyday lives-and ultimately, to turn around the obesity epidemic.
1. World Health Organization. Notes for the media: New physical activity guidance can help reduce risk of breast, colon cancers; 2011. Accessed January 28, 2012.
2. World Health Organization. Global recommendations on physical activity for health; 2011. Accessed January 30, 2012.
3. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans; 2008. Accessed January 30, 2012.
4. Haskell WL, Lee IM, Pate RR, et al. Physical activity and public health: updated recommendation for adults from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2007; 116:1081-93.
5. Caspersen CJ, Powell KE, Christenson GM. Physical activity, exercise, and physical fitness: definitions and distinctions for health-related research. Public Health Rep. 1985; 100:126-31.
6. Troiano RP, Berrigan D, Dodd KW, Masse LC, Tilert T, McDowell M. Physical activity in the United States measured by accelerometer. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2008; 40:181-8.
7. Juneau CE, Potvin L. Trends in leisure-, transport-, and work-related physical activity in Canada 1994-2005. Prev Med. 2010; 51:384-6.
8. Brownson RC, Boehmer TK, Luke DA. Declining rates of physical activity in the United States: what are the contributors? Annu Rev Public Health. 2005; 26:421-43.
9. Petersen CB, Thygesen LC, Helge JW, Gronbaek M, Tolstrup JS. Time trends in physical activity in leisure time in the Danish population from 1987 to 2005. Scand J Public Health. 2010; 38:121-8.
10. Ng SW, Norton EC, Popkin BM. Why have physical activity levels declined among Chinese adults? Findings from the 1991-2006 China Health and Nutrition Surveys. Soc Sci Med. 2009; 68:1305-14.
11. Stamatakis E, Ekelund U, Wareham NJ. Temporal trends in physical activity in England: the Health Survey for England 1991 to 2004. Prev Med. 2007; 45:416-23.
12. McDonald NC. Active transportation to school: trends among U.S. schoolchildren, 1969-2001. Am J Prev Med. 2007; 32:509-16.
13. Wareham NJ, van Sluijs EM, Ekelund U. Physical activity and obesity prevention: a review of the current evidence. Proc Nutr Soc. 2005; 64:229-47.
14. Kjellstrom T, Hakansta C, Hogstedt C. Globalisation and public health-overview and a Swedish perspective. Scand J Public Health Suppl. 2007; 70:2-68.
15. Mekary RA, Feskanich D, Malspeis S, Hu FB, Willett WC, Field AE. Physical activity patterns and prevention of weight gain in premenopausal women. Int J Obes (Lond). 2009; 33:1039-47.
16. Seo DC, Li K. Leisure-time physical activity dose-response effects on obesity among US adults: results from the 1999-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2010; 64:426-31.
17. Lewis CE, Smith DE, Wallace DD, Williams OD, Bild DE, Jacobs DR, Jr. Seven-year trends in body weight and associations with lifestyle and behavioral characteristics in black and white young adults: the CARDIA study. Am J Public Health. 1997; 87:635-42.
18. Lee IM, Djousse L, Sesso HD, Wang L, Buring JE. Physical activity and weight gain prevention. JAMA. 2010; 303:1173-9.
19. Mekary RA, Feskanich D, Hu FB, Willett WC, Field AE. Physical activity in relation to long-term weight maintenance after intentional weight loss in premenopausal women. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010; 18:167-74.
20. Lusk AC, Mekary RA, Feskanich D, Willett WC. Bicycle riding, walking, and weight gain in premenopausal women. Arch Intern Med. 2010; 170:1050-6.
21. Slentz CA, Aiken LB, Houmard JA, et al. Inactivity, exercise, and visceral fat. STRRIDE: a randomized, controlled study of exercise intensity and amount. J Appl Physiol. 2005; 99:1613-8.
22. McTiernan A, Sorensen B, Irwin ML, et al. Exercise effect on weight and body fat in men and women. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2007; 15:1496-512.
23. Friedenreich CM, Woolcott CG, McTiernan A, et al. Adiposity changes after a 1-year aerobic exercise intervention among postmenopausal women: a randomized controlled trial. Int J Obes (Lond). 2010.
24. Hu FB. Physical Activity, Sedentary Behaviors, and Obesity. In: Hu FB, ed. Obesity Epidemiology. New York: Oxford University Press; 2008:301-19.
25. Sallis JF, Glanz K. Physical activity and food environments: solutions to the obesity epidemic. Milbank Q. 2009; 87:123-54.
26. Khan LK, Sobush K, Keener D, et al. Recommended community strategies and measurements to prevent obesity in the United States. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2009; 58:1-26.
27. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Leadership for Healthy Communities. Action Strategies Toolkit. Accessed January 30, 2012.
6 Ideas to Overcome Obesity
Nearly everyone has been affected by an over-weight relative or friend who is dealing with cancer, heart attack, stroke and/or diabetes. While they’ve undoubtedly heard the public health messages to eat cleaner and exercise more, they have not felt motivated to make lifestyle changes. Instead, they are suffering from the so-called diseases of aging that are really diseases of inactivity and over-nutrition. They aren’t having much fun at the doctors’ offices.
Public health guru Dr. David Katz is spreading his health message that we, as a society, need to curb the obesity epidemic. According to well-documented research presented by Dr. Katz, if we don’t stop the obesity epidemic, an estimated 42 percent of all Americans will be obese in 18 years. One-third will be diabetic. Our kids will die at a younger age than their parents, and the healthcare system will be bankrupt.
By preventing obesity, we can see stunning benefits.
More: 6 Tips to Build a Weight-Loss Diet
Mayor Michael Bloomberg is working hard to change the obesogenic environment in New York City. The naysayers may be complaining he is taking away a person’s right to choose, but he’s not taking away soda. NYC is just not enabling that bad choice.
In our modern world, we are victims of our own success. We have engineered out the lifestyle that kept our parents and grandparents fit and strong, including riding bikes to work, walking to school, and hanging laundry outside to dry. We have engineered in processed foods that come in huge portions and taste yummy. No surprise less than 2 percent of Americans eat the recommend number of fruits and vegetables.
More: Simple Strategies for Better Eating Habits
How can we motivate people to take better care of themselves? We need to focus on the personal benefits—longer life, less pain and more fun.
The good news is obesity is strongly linked to behaviors we can control, including the foods we choose to chew and the amount of exercise we get. Granted, other factors also have an impact, including gut microbiota, sleep deprivation, and genetics—and genes can be changed with positive food choices. So if we will be able to have more fun, let’s do it!
More: 8 Steps to a Healthy Relationship With Food
90,000 Science in its entirety. Part 1. Why we are actually gaining excess weight
Overweight is one of the main threats in the modern world, although many still consider obesity solely as a cosmetic problem (and body positivists still believe that a XXXL body is a personal choice of a person and it is as beautiful as the body for which you can find clothes in regular stores). At first glance, it really seems that it is incorrect to compare the risks of obesity and, say, cancer or cardiovascular disease.But in fact, excess kilograms very effectively kill their carriers and, by the way, provoke the very same cardiovascular diseases, from which more people die every year than from any other disease. And if you remember that being overweight provokes the development of type 2 diabetes (according to statistics, only from 1990 to 1999 this disease began to occur 40% more often), then explanations like “nothing can be done, you just have such a constitution” are not only deadly, but still extremely disadvantageous economically.
Tons of books and articles, including scientific ones, have been written about being overweight. And if the researchers more or less agreed on the fight against this scourge (alas, nothing revolutionary: you need to eat less and move more), then everything is much more interesting with the reasons due to which a person begins to grow in width. Moreover, the further researchers delve into human biochemistry and genetics, the more difficult it becomes that notorious “predisposition” to which millions of unsuccessfully losing weight sufferers refer.So, what, according to modern science, prevents a person from gaining ideal shape and can this knowledge be used in order to finally create a pill for obesity?
Probably, each of us has a friend who eats sweets and burgers for four, but remains thin or even skinny. Conversely, who has not met people who claim that even water is immediately deposited on their waists? “The tendency to be overweight” is probably the oldest conditionally acceptable justification for obesity, but only in recent years have scientists finally begun to understand what it is at the genetic level.
The first and most important thing that emerged during the research: a genetic predisposition to obesity actually exists (although many are still convinced that it is only a matter of promiscuity and laziness).
Today, scientists know more than 60 sites in the genome, certain variants of which increase the risk of “getting too much”. Moreover, the same result – an increased tendency of the body to store unused calories in the form of fat – can be determined by completely different genetic characteristics.For example, obesity can be monogenic and polygenic, that is, it is caused by one or more genes. Monogenic obesity is quite rare and is associated with a “breakdown” in one of the genes encoding proteins of a special system of the body that regulates how much energy should be saved for the future, that is, converted into fat.
The main components of this system are the hormones leptin and melanocortin. The first is produced in the adipose tissue itself, and it is sometimes called the hunger hormone or, conversely, the satiety hormone.The more fat in the body, the higher the concentration of leptin, which triggers the synthesis of melanocortin through the “mediator” receptors in the hypothalamus. This most important hormone depresses the pleasure center – in this case, from food, as a result, a feeling of satiety comes, and the desire to order another dessert disappears.
If any of the genes of this system does not work properly, a person cannot eat, although he absorbs much more than he really needs. For example, babies with a mutation in the leptin gene LEP gain weight at a terrible rate in the first months of life, and when they try to take away the breast or bottle they get angry and actively protest.Obesity of varying degrees in carriers of this mutation occurs at a very young age, and by the age of 30, as a rule, type 2 diabetes develops. A mutation in the MCR4 gene, which codes for one of the melanocortin receptors, is responsible for about 4% of all childhood obesity, the most common genetic cause of weight gain. And if people with a mutation in the LEP gene can be made slim by injecting artificially synthesized leptin subcutaneously into them, then changes in the MCR4 gene cannot be “defeated”.
Children with a mutation in the LEP gene, when trying to remove a food source from the very first days of life, behave extremely aggressively.Photo: Jack Fussell / flickr
Polygenic obesity occurs when several genes are not working correctly at once. Disruption of the activity of each of them may not give a noticeable effect, but, adding up, they significantly increase the risk of acquiring Rubens’ forms. For example, the geneticist-epidemiologist from the University of Michigan Elizabeth Speliots cites the following data: a person whose DNA contains 104 “wrong” variants of genes associated with obesity is, on average, 11 kilograms heavier than the carrier of 78 such variants.
Some of the “dangerous” species are hidden in genes that control satiety and feeding behavior (for example, not only monogenic obesity, but also several polygenic variants are associated with the same MCR4 gene). For carriers of such variants, hunger is more painful, they later feel full and get much more pleasure from food than those whose DNA carries normal versions (therefore, it is more difficult for them to refuse it). But many “obesity genes” still remain a mystery to scientists: what exactly they do in the body is unclear.For example, researchers have been wrestling with the FTO gene for many years, which is considered one of the main culprits of obesity in the white part of the world’s population. People carrying two problematic copies of this gene are 1.7 times more likely to be diagnosed as obese and, on average, three kilograms heavier than those with both normal copies. It appears that the protein encoded by this gene is somehow modifying certain genes in the hypothalamus, possibly regulating feeding behavior.
Such modifications do not change the DNA “letters” themselves, but attach different “markings” to them and firmly bound histone proteins, being guided by which, cellular enzymes read the information in the DNA in different ways.Together, such supragenomic “superstructures” are called epigenetic, and over the past 30 years it has become clear that the complexity of the epigenetic regulation system is hardly inferior to the genetic one. And epigenetics also plays a very prominent role in our tendency to gain weight.
Epigenetic tags are a way to urgently (by the standards of evolution) and specifically regulate the work of the genome: enzymes make changes immediately in response to abrupt changes in the environment, and – most importantly – these changes are transmitted to children and grandchildren.Ordinary mutations occur by chance, so you can wait for the “right” one for more than one generation. Epigenetic marks are reversible, but so far we do not know how to target and remove them from the necessary genes, so it is often impossible to reverse the epigenetic “sentence”.
Diet during pregnancy has a very noticeable effect not only on the health and appearance of the mother, but also on the epigenetics of the fetus. Photo: Ken Hammond
Very clear evidence of how epigenetics affects metabolism was demonstrated in January 2016 by scientists studying mice.Experts worked with genetically identical rodents and drew attention to the fact that some of the mice grew up normal, and some – excessively fat. All animals had one copy of the Trim28 gene, which encodes a regulatory protein that interacts with chromatin. Scientists have shown that this protein works as an epigenetic “switch”: at an early stage of embryonic development, it somehow deactivates some of the important genes on the maternal or paternal copies of chromosomes, and the choice of chromosome occurs randomly.And if, say, some paternal chromosome carries “dangerous” variants of obesity-related genes, and Trim28 “turns off” the maternal one, the mouse is likely to grow up overweight. Other studies have shown that due to such epigenetic adjustments, the difference in weight of genetically similar mice can be up to 100%.
Sometimes scientists do not know why certain superstructures suddenly appear on DNA, but sometimes it is possible to trace the exact cause. And in the case of obesity, adipose tissue itself is very often the trigger.In December 2015, researchers from Denmark and Sweden demonstrated this wonderfully by comparing sperm DNA from lean and overweight men. In total, they found more than nine thousand changes in the “obese” sperm, and 274 of them were in the genes that are responsible for appetite and eating behavior.
But the most striking thing happened after some of the overweight men decided to undergo liposuction. A week after the operation, 1509 epigenetic changes were formed in the DNA of their sperm, and a year after the procedure, this number increased to 3910.Although the epigenetic profile of the germ cells of artificially thinned men differed from naturally slender sperm, this difference could not be compared to the difference between sperm of thin and fat. As the authors note, their work indirectly proves that fat fathers, through the germ cells, transmit to children approximately the following instructions: “Son / daughter, these are fat times, eat as much as possible – when this will happen.” Evolution has provided us with an excellent mechanism for quickly responding to sudden abundance, but how did it know that it would be the problem for Homo sapiens .
If metabolic characteristics of fathers affect the metabolism of children, then what can we say about mothers. Indeed, several studies have shown that a mother’s diet in early pregnancy changes the epigenetic profile of children, and these changes are completely logical and correct if you are a Cro-Magnon living half-starving. For example, if a mother-to-be neglects vegetables, fruits and other sources of carbohydrates, the body decides that there is a famine on the planet, and marks appear on the DNA of the children that are being carried, making their bodies more spare.In modern conditions, this means those very extra centimeters “from everything.”
So, our life in general and the tendency to gain excess weight in particular are regulated by genetics and epigenetics, and the mechanisms of this regulation are very complex and intricate. But, as it turned out, these are not all the factors that affect whether we are thin or fat. Read about other enemies in the eternal struggle of modern people for harmony in the second part of our review.
6 ways not to gain kilograms
Some people can eat anything and not gain excess weight.Others, as is often joked, “get better only from the smell of food.”
About why this is happening and how not to gain extra pounds, says nutritionist-endocrinologist Anastasia Sokolova, an expert at the First Online School of Diabetes.
How to determine excess weight
The easiest way to know if you are overweight is to calculate your body mass index (BMI).
To do this, you need to divide your weight by the height squared: kg / m 2 . For example, with a height of 170 centimeters and a weight of 60 kilograms, BMI = 60 / (1.7 * 1.7) = 20.7.
The World Health Organization (WHO) gives the following BMI indicators:
Anastasia Sokolova, expert of the online diabetes school of the pharmaceutical corporation “Arterium”
If your index is higher than normal and you feel uncomfortable, then pay attention to the problem. The sooner you start to lose weight, the lower the risks for the development of diabetes and problems with the heart and blood vessels.
Nutritionist Anastasia Sokolova offers another way to find out if there is excess fat in the body: to take measurements of the hip and waist circumference.If a woman’s waist circumference is equal to or less than 80 centimeters, then her weight is normal. For men, the waist is considered to be no more than 94 centimeters.
3 reasons why extra pounds appear
1. A person eats more calories than needed
Calories are the amount of energy that food gives us. The body stores excess calories and converts them into fat. In other words, if you expend less energy than you eat, then the weight will increase.
American nutritionists recommend in their nutritional guidelines:
- Women consume 1600 to 2400 calories per day.
- Men – 2000 to 3000 calories per day.
It is not only the calorie content of food that matters, but also its quality. According to scientists from the American National University of Heart, Lung and Blood, with the same amount of calories, the body spends energy in different ways.
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For example: a vegetable dish with meat with a calorie content of 500 kcal will give the body more energy than ice cream with the same calorie content.Ice cream, chocolate and biscuits, white bread and baked goods are fast carbs. They are quickly digested in the body, do not bring feelings of fullness and cause a quick feeling of hunger.
Anastasia Sokolova also says that calorie counting is not always about balanced and proper nutrition. You can add a whole chocolate bar and a cake to the daily amount of calories, and there will be no room for salad, vegetables and fruits.
The most harmful food in the world is sugar. This chemical powder, artificially created 300 years ago, is composed of glucose and fructose.It should not be eaten by all people, not just those who want to lose weight.
When there is too much glucose and fructose, the level of insulin rises in the body ( a hormone that maintains the desired level of glucose in the blood. – Approx. Ed. ). Excess insulin literally pushes glucose into cells by force. When all the “stores” of cells are full, at the command of insulin, their contents are converted into fats, and this leads to obesity.
At some point, the body may malfunction and insulin will stop lowering blood glucose levels.In this scenario, type 2 diabetes develops. Therefore, if a person is prone to type 2 diabetes, fast carbohydrates are their worst enemy.
In 2003, scientists at Princeton University found that sugar is unhealthy addictive. Research has also shown that when you eat too much sugar, it triggers the same reactions in the brain as in drug addiction.
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2.Genetics and late supper are to blame
The cause of excess weight may be a genetic predisposition. If both parents are obese, then the probability of its development in a child reaches 80%. But if you eat right and play sports, your weight can return to normal.
According to the Harvard Medical Journal, more than 400 different genes influence predisposition to obesity. They affect appetite, satiety, food cravings, metabolism ( the rate at which the body converts food into energy, and then expends this received energy.- Approx. ed. ) and the distribution of body fat.
Anastasia Sokolova says that metabolism really depends on genetics and affects the process of losing weight. This is why it is easier for someone, while it is more difficult for someone to lose weight. But with long-term proper nutrition, these moments are smoothed out.
Anastasia explains that there are no special tests that would determine the genetic predisposition to weight gain. But often the cause of the so-called “genetic obesity” – wrong eating habits.
- Heavy and late dinner – the only time you eat something in the day;
- breakfast refusal;
- the habit of eating on the go;
- monotonous food or food that is too high in calories, fatty, sweet or salty;
- The habit of eating dessert after the main course.
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3. Hormones that affect weight
Genetics are not the only ones to blame for being overweight.Modern obesity research shows that hormones play an important role in changing a person’s weight. In addition to insulin, there are two other hormones.
Leptin is a hormone that regulates the feeling of satiety and reduces appetite. Leptin is produced by fat cells: the more fat a person has, the higher the level of leptin in the blood. And with an increased level of leptin, it is difficult for a person to fight hunger.
Cortisol – it is also called the “stress hormone”. If something goes wrong, the body tries with all its might to suppress the unpleasant sensations.But in return, it requires you to quickly replenish energy reserves with food. Studies show that persistent high concentrations of cortisol in the body increase the risk of obesity tenfold.
6 ways to lose weight
- Eat right. Healthy eating is not a one-time diet, but the correct selection of foods throughout life. Eat as many vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and fish as possible. You can replace sunflower oil with olive oil and limit the use of butter – it contains a lot of cholesterol ( fat-like substance, when there is more of it in the body than needed, this leads to diseases of the heart or blood vessels.- Approx. ed .). Better yet, avoid white bread, polished rice, or baked goods.
- Reduce fast (simple) carbohydrates. If you eat less simple carbohydrates such as sugar and sweets, your insulin levels will decrease and fat will stop accumulating. People with diabetes should definitely avoid them.
- Keep a food diary. It will help you control what you eat throughout the day. Such a diary is an essential part of a correct weight loss program.
- Go in for sports. The best way to burn those extra calories is to move more. If earlier the specialists of the US Department of Health insisted on at least 10 minutes of charging daily, then in 2018 they released new recommendations. According to them, you need to walk, dance or play sports at least two and a half hours a week, and preferably five hours.
- Walk. The idea of taking at least 10 thousand steps a day was first discussed in Japan back in the 1960s.And today this norm remains relevant. Cleveland hospital chief physician and author of Proof of Age, Michael Roysen, says that if all Americans walked 10,000 steps a day, the health budget would be cut by $ 500 billion a year.
- Sleep at least eight hours a day. From 1986 to 2002, scientists from several medical centers conducted a study in which 60 thousand nurses took part. The experts concluded that those nurses who slept five hours were 15% more likely to be obese than those who slept seven hours.And a 2008 study proves that those who don’t sleep much are 55% more likely to gain weight quickly than those who sleep at least eight hours.
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This material is not editorial, it is the personal opinion of its author. The editors may not share this opinion.
Scientists have figured out how to fight obesity with a small device
Researchers from the University of Otago and their British colleagues have presented an unusual device designed to help fight obesity.The DentalSlim Diet Control system is installed on the posterior, upper and lower teeth using custom-made magnets and locking elements. The design does not allow a person to open his mouth wide: only about 2 mm remains to take food. This forces the user to restrict themselves to food, with an emphasis on liquid food, but does not affect the ability to breathe and speak.
Clinical trials of this system were conducted, which showed: volunteers lost an average of 6.36 kg in two weeks.During the experiment, they ate a low-calorie diet (800 kcal per day). Two weeks after the removal of the device, the weight was partially restored. Importantly, the volunteers themselves were satisfied with the experience of using DentalSlim Diet Control.
If necessary, the system can be dismantled by the user. Subsequently, it will be reinstalled by the dentist. According to the developers, the design helps to adhere to a certain diet, has no side effects, unlike medication for weight loss, and does not require serious interventions, like gastric banding surgery.
Meanwhile, the system already has opponents. The main argument is that such a rapid weight loss will harm the body. Any calorie-restricted diet involves repetitive weight loss and recovery cycles. Fluctuations have a negative impact on human health. There is also a risk of gaining more than you have lost. The brain reacts sharply to lack of calories and nutrients, slowing down metabolic processes. When food returns to normal calories, the metabolism does not rebuild instantly, which gives rise to weight gain.
The creators of the device counter: the system is not intended for long-term use. But it can help you lose weight before surgery or other significant event. After two to three weeks of wearing the system, the magnets can be deactivated. Thus, after the stage of a strict diet, it is possible to return to a less rigid diet and adjust the diet together with a dietitian.
The developer’s report states: “This will enable a phased approach to weight loss, supported by dietitian advice, to help you achieve your long-term weight loss goals.”Obesity has become a serious problem. Since 1975, obesity rates have nearly tripled worldwide, according to statistics from the World Health Organization. In addition to the negative impact on the cardiovascular system and various organs, excess weight puts additional stress on joints, bones and soft tissues, which accelerates their wear. Also, studies have shown that fat cells are able to secrete inflammatory compounds. The more fat cells in the body, the higher the level of inflammation can be, which can also be dangerous for the joints.
Podiatrists recommend adhering to the principles of a healthy diet and controlling weight, being careful not to resort to extreme measures to reduce it.
90,000 5 common myths about obesity
Although obesity is reported frequently, there are many misconceptions and myths associated with this condition that feed social stigma. Currently, a negative attitude towards such a person’s trait can harm him. In this regard, in this publication, we propose to consider the 5 most common misconceptions about obesity.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States, 42.4% of adults are obese . According to the estimates of the World Health Organization (WHO), 90,050 there are about 650 90,053 90,050 million 90,053 90,050 adults with this problem in the world .
People are increasingly aware of the health problems that obesity causes. However, despite public health education campaigns, myths about this problem are widespread.Many of the most common myths cause stigma that can affect the mental health of obese people.
For example, the 2020 meta-analysis on this issue indicates a stronger association between stigma from being overweight, worsening mental health and an increase in body mass index (BMI).
Myth 1. To to overcome obesity , just eat less and move more
In many cases, the direct cause of obesity is the consumption of more calories than the body needs over time.
Indeed, the vast majority of obesity interventions are aimed at reducing calorie intake and increasing physical activity.
However, in addition to non-compliance with diet and lack of exercise, there are other factors that play an important role in the development of obesity.
People often forget about factors such as lack of sleep, psychological stress, chronic pain, endocrine (hormonal) disruptors, and certain medications Drugs . In these cases overeating may be a symptom rather than a cause.
Obese individuals may have increased stress levels due to the common stigma associated with being overweight.
In addition, stress can affect sleep quality, which in turn can cause sleep deprivation, which is another risk factor for obesity.
Sleep apnea, in which a person stops breathing for a short time, is more often noted in people who are overweight or obese.Again, a cycle can form: an increase in body weight leads to an increase in the severity of sleep apnea, which leads to lack of sleep and further to an increase in body weight.
There is also a link between obesity and chronic pain. The reasons for this relationship may differ from person to person, but chemical factors, sleep disturbances, and depression are often cited among them.
Stress, Violations from to and chronic pain is just 3 interrelated factors that can cause obesity. It is important to understand that the case of for each person is different . The simple instruction “ to move more and eat less” may not be an adequate recommendation.
Yes, reasonable calorie intake and exercise are vital factors in the fight against obesity, but they do not solve all the issues.
Myth 2. Obesity causes sugar diabetes
Obesity does not directly lead to the development of diabetes mellitus.Yes, obesity is a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. However, not all obese people will develop this pathology, and not all people with type 2 diabetes mellitus are obese.
Obesity is also a risk factor for gestational diabetes, which is noted during pregnancy, but is not a risk factor for type 1 diabetes.
Myth 3. Obese people are lazy
A sedentary lifestyle is a risk factor for obesity.A more active lifestyle can contribute to weight loss, but obesity is more than inaction.
The 2011 study used accelerometers to measure the activity level of 2,832 adults aged 20–79 for 4 days. The participants’ step count decreased as their body weight increased, but the differences were not as significant as one might expect, especially for women.
The list below shows the women’s body weights and the number of steps they took per day during this study:
- persons with a healthy body weight: 8819 steps;
- overweight persons: 8506 steps;
- obese individuals: 7546 steps.
When you consider that a person who is overweight or obese spends more energy with each step, the difference between the total energy expenditure may be even smaller. This is not to say that physical activity is not important for good health, but it is more complicated.
Another factor to consider is that not all people can exercise. For example, physical disabilities may make movement difficult or impossible.
In addition, certain mental health problems can seriously affect motivation – and there seems to be a link between depression and obesity, further exacerbating the situation.
In addition to physical and mental health problems, some obese people may also have a negative body image, which can make leaving home more intimidating.
Myth 4. Obesity is inevitable for those whose relatives have this disease
The genetic link between obesity is complex, but a person whose relatives are obese does not necessarily get sick himself.However, these people do have a higher risk of developing obesity.
It is difficult to define the isolated role of genes and environment. People with the same genes often live together and therefore may have similar eating habits and lifestyles.
In 1990, a group of scientists published the results of a study that helped separate the influence of genes from the influence of the environment.
Scientists studied twins who were raised separately and compared them with twins who were raised together.In this way, they hoped to share the influence of genetics and the environment. Overall, they concluded: “ The genetic effect on BMI is significant, while the child’s environment has little or no effect. .”
Scientists who conducted a 1986 study with twins came to similar conclusions. They found that the weight of adopted children correlated with the weight of their biological parents, but not with the weight of their adoptive parents.
In recent years, scientists have been looking for genes that affect the likelihood of developing obesity.As explained by the CDC, most obese people cannot have a single genetic cause. Since 2006, genome-wide associative studies have identified more than 50 genes associated with obesity. Most of them have minor effects.
However, in a 2011 study, a variant of the gene FTO was identified, which is associated with an increase in the likelihood of developing obesity by 20-30%.
Although genetics are important, this does not mean that obesity is inevitable for those whose relatives have this disease.The aforementioned study, which involved people with the FTO gene variant, looked at the role of exercise. Its authors explain: “ Using data from more than 218 thousand adults, we found that having a copy of the susceptibility gene increases the likelihood of developing obesity by 1.23 times. But the size of this effect was 27% less in genetically susceptible adults who were physically active 90,052. ”
Myth 5. Obesity does not affect health
It is important to understand that obesity increases the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and certain mental illnesses.
Nevertheless, even slight weight loss can bring health benefits. A 5-10% reduction in body weight from baseline is likely to bring health benefits, including improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose, according to the CDC.
Adapted from medicalnewstoday.com,
Tsikava information for you:
How to treat obesity medical center – “Mediko” | Medical Center MEDiKO
The problem of excess weight is familiar to many, and it is difficult to deal with it on your own. First of all, many people look on the Internet for medicines, preferably cheaper ones, which ruin health, or advice, only from which the results, as well as from drugs, are exactly zero.Even if you managed to lose those extra pounds, after a few months they return and you have to do everything again. MEDiKO is a center where specialists will develop a special nutrition plan for you, approach the issue in a comprehensive manner and help cure obesity.
How to lose weight?
It has been proven that the main thing is not just to overcome excess weight, but to find out the cause of its occurrence. MEDiKO specialists will help you do this, because there can be a lot of reasons: a lack of vitamins, malfunctions in the body, metabolic disorders.Thanks to an integrated approach to the question, an individual nutrition plan and a detailed plan for how to get rid of obesity will be drawn up for you.
What is the peculiarity of the method of losing weight?
An individual diet is developed for each client, depending on the needs of the body and the lack of certain substances.
We say no to fasting and exhausting physical activity, because complex exercises are enough for losing weight.
A nutritionist, psychologist and cosmetologist is working with the patient.This makes it easier to control each process.
No expensive “foreign” drugs. We do not ruin our health, but on the contrary, we try to make it work as correctly as possible.
During the entire period of losing weight, you will be accompanied by a nutritionist, from whom you can learn how to deal with obesity.
No strict calorie count.
You can eat after 18:00.
Each patient receives a detailed weight loss plan with practical advice and full instructions. Also, if you wish, you can get instructions on a healthy lifestyle.
Getting the desired silhouette and fit is now easier with MEDiKO!
Sign up for a consultation by calling 35-28-35, 35-28-89.
90,000 Top news of the day | Monday
Results from Climate Conference
The UN Secretary General is disappointed with the results of the Climate Conference, which ended in Madrid the day before. The participants missed the opportunity to take the decisive action needed to tackle the climate crisis, António Guterres said.As a result of the two-week conference, the negotiators were unable to agree on specific steps and commitments by countries to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, the increased concentration of which in the atmosphere leads to climate change. Among other things, most countries did not support the idea of China, Brazil and India to transfer to the format of the Paris Agreement those projects that are being implemented within the framework of the Kyoto Protocol, considering them not meeting the requirements of the time. Nevertheless, the UN Secretary General does not lose hope: the next stage of negotiations will take place in June in Bonn, Germany.
Refugee assistance is discussed in Geneva
Innovative solutions and new ways of helping refugees, whose total number is approaching 26 million in the world, will be discussed in the next three days by heads of state, leading UN diplomats, influential figures from the private sector and civil society. The first Global Refugee Forum kicks off in Geneva. On Tuesday, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, former High Commissioner for Refugees, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose country has hosted millions of people fleeing the armed conflict in Syria, will take part in the meeting on Tuesday.The forum participants will consider measures of financial, technical and material assistance, changes in legislation and policy for the integration of refugees into society, as well as the topic of promoting the safe return of refugees to their home countries.
Obesity and wasting problems are linked
Obesity and wasting are often interrelated issues that affect people in one third of low- and middle-income countries. In total, about 2.3 billion people in the world are overweight, and more than 150 million children are lagging behind in physical development due to malnutrition.The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that malnutrition affects the health of generations. The results of the new study are published in the British scientific journal Lancet. The double burden of malnutrition is particularly felt by people in Sub-Saharan Africa, South and East Asia, and the Pacific. But, according to WHO experts, it is no longer possible to consider malnutrition as a problem in low-income countries, and obesity – a phenomenon inherent only in rich countries.These problems are rooted in the failure of the state – regardless of financial health – to provide the population with healthy, safe and affordable food.
Hundreds of millions of people around the world live in extreme poverty. Many die from diseases that could be cured. One of the main reasons for this dire situation is that taxpayers’ funds end up in the pockets of corrupt officials. This is the leitmotif of the Conference on Corruption, which began its work in Abu Dhabi.1,300 delegates from different countries gathered in the capital of the United Arab Emirates to discuss the problems associated with corruption and exchange experiences in combating it. The agenda includes the topics of identifying channels for laundering criminal funds, confiscation and return of stolen assets. It is expected that the results will lead to the adoption of guidelines for the management of frozen, seized and confiscated assets, and an anti-corruption initiative for the countries participating in the Silk Road project, initiated by China, will be launched.
90,000 The secret to being slim? Scientists have found genes responsible for thinness
- Smith Mundasad
Photo author, Getty Images
Scientists say they have found an answer to the question of why with the same diet some people remain thin while others gain extra pounds quickly. It’s all about genes.
The results of a study published in the journal PLOS Genetics indicate that there are genes that actually guarantee their owners slimness.
As the researchers emphasize, for some lucky people, being slim is not the result of proper nutrition and exercise, but a genetic given.
Over the past few decades, researchers have found hundreds of genes that are responsible for a person’s predisposition to be overweight. However, much less research has been done on genes responsible for slimness.
In the course of the study, scientists studied the genetic data of more than 1600 slim and healthy people in Britain, with a body mass index below 18.Scientists also studied data from 2000 people suffering from severe obesity, and 10 400 people with normal body weight.
Participants in the study also had to answer questions regarding their diet and lifestyle.
As scientists have found out, in obese people, as a rule, a set of genes was revealed that are conducive to obesity. While the lean participants in the study not only lacked the genes that predispose to gaining extra pounds quickly, or there were significantly fewer of them, they also had those genes that are responsible for healthy thinness.
“Take your time with criticism”
The author of the study, professor at the University of Cambridge Sadaf Farooqi urged not to criticize overweight people for unhealthy lifestyles and overeating.
“This study shows that thin people are thin because they have fewer genes that favor obesity, not because they lead a more healthy lifestyle, as some believe,” says Sadaf Farooqi.
Photo by Getty Images
“It is very easy to draw conclusions and criticize people for being overweight, but as scientific data shows us, everything is much more complicated.We have significantly less ability to control our weight than we would like to think, “she says.
Scientists say that in the next phase of the study, they will try to find out exactly which combination of genes guarantees healthy thinness.
An even longer-term challenge for scientists is figuring out how new knowledge about genes responsible for thinness can help develop new methods of losing weight
Genes or lifestyle?
Commenting on the study results, Professor of Nutrition at King’s College London, Tom Sanders said: “This is important and a very well-conducted study that confirms that the propensity to obesity is genetically determined.The study also shows that thin people are genetically different from most people. “
However, according to him, you should not rush to explain everything with” bad “or” good genetics. “
” In most cases, extra pounds accumulate already in adulthood – and they are mainly associated with a sedentary lifestyle and excessive consumption of high-calorie foods, “adds Tom Sanders.
As the expert emphasizes, a third of the inhabitants of most countries remain slim into adulthood.