We’ve all heard so much about the “obesity epidemic.” It’s easy to think the story is being blown out of proportion. But the truth is far from it. According to World Health Organization, the prevalence of adult obesity has exceeded 30% in the United States, is over 20% in most of, and is 40–70% in the Gulf states and Polynesian islands. Obesity is linked to cardiorespiratory and chronic diseases that can decrease the quality of life (1).
If you wonder what obesity is and how to stop it, you aren’t alone. The good news is that fighting obesity doesn’t have to be complicated. The key is to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Improving eating habits and increasing physical activity can help prevent obesity.
We are all a grain of sand on this beach of life. If every grain of sand takes the responsibility to be healthier with their resources, then soon, we will be able to have a healthier society and world.
What is Obesity?
Obesity is a disorder of energy balance, energy in equals energy out. Weight is steady when power is balanced. When our bodies have a positive energy balance, the extra energy is saved in fat. Obesity is an excessive fat accumulation in adipose tissues.
Causes of Obesity
There are many causes of obesity.
Our environment affects our food choices. Family members tend to share the same eating habits. Obesity runs in families; although genetics might play a role, families also have the same patterns that lead to obesity.
A diet high in processed foods and bigger portions can lead to an energy surplus and storage of body fat when paired with a sedentary lifestyle. Having poor sleep hygiene can cause a positive energy balance. Many external factors like work and finances that can add stress to your life also cause obesity.
Some diseases and medications can lead to weight gain. Conditions like hypothyroidism and crushing’s syndrome can cause weight gain. Certain drugs like antidepressants, anti-seizure medications, and diabetes medications also lead to weight gain if appropriate adjustments to diet and activity aren’t made.
How to Combat Obesity
Obesity can be prevented by following a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle means eating healthy foods, not starving yourself, listening to hunger cues, exercising regularly, and staying active.
Here are some simple changes you can make.
Eat Five a Day-
Consume fresh fruits and vegetables daily. Aim for five to ten servings of whole fruits and vegetables. A generous intake of fruit and vegetables assists in weight management because they are high in micronutrients, high in fiber and water, and low in calories, producing a satiating effect (2). The satiating properties of fruit and vegetables will reduce the consumption of energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods like processed snacks. Adults who eat five fruit and vegetable per day have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer by 13% (3). Also, the risk of respiratory infections is lowered by 35% if you consume five servings of fruits and vegetables daily (3).
Eat Three Meals a Day-
This might sound contrary to what you have heard: eat small multiple meals. I believed it myself but, let me tell you, eating three square meals a day helps your metabolism and energy intake. Eating three meals a day gives your body enough time to digest and process the nutrients. Science supports that eating three meals a day has benefits, including weight loss, lower cholesterol, and reduced risk of diabetes (4).
Cook at Home-
Cooking is simple. If there is one life skill you should learn, it’s cooking. Cooking at home helps you control the ingredients and calories without counting them. Preparing food at home, you can use more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your recipes than processed restaurants food (5). People who prepare meals at home are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes (6).
Exercise and Stay Active-
Exercise is a helpful way to combat obesity. Often, people are stuck with the choice of diet or exercise. Ideally, combining exercise with a healthy diet is a more effective way to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Aerobic exercise and resistance training both are important for a healthy body. Cardiorespiratory fitness can significantly reduce diseases related to high BMI (7). Fit individuals with excess body weight have a lower mortality rate due to chronic illnesses (7). The key is to stay active throughout the day. You can incorporate more movement by using a standing desk, taking walking breaks, and stretching throughout the day.
Make Time for Destressing Practices-
Chronic stress increases cortisol level in your blood, leading to weight gain and all the negative effects associated with weight gain. Stress can change your appetite and cause cravings. Incorporating ways to beat stress during the day can help you relax. Some of the ways to help are going for a run, daily walk, practicing yoga or tai chi, meditating, spending time with your pet, and getting together with friends.
Practice Good Sleep Hygiene-
Sleep is essential for a healthy lifestyle. We overlook the importance of sleep, but it helps prevent obesity. Short rest, six to seven hours of sleep, is linked to a higher body mass index (8). Research has shown that late bedtime is associated with unhealthy body mass index over time. Practice good sleep hygiene by relaxing before bed and consistent bedtimes to improve your health.
Try to use these tips to adopt a healthy lifestyle for yourself and your family.
- doi: 1038/nature05485
- doi: 3390/nu10111626
- doi: 3390/nu11040719
- doi: 1017/S1368980014001943
- doi: 1371/journal.pmed.1002052
- doi: 1016/j.pcad.2013.09.002
- doi: 1016/j.orcp.2020.03.004
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About the Author
Aesha Tahir is a health and wellness coach and a certified personal trainer. She holds a Master’s degree in Applied Exercise Science and is certified by the NASM as a Personal trainer. She is a certified USA Track and Field Running Coach and Road Runners of America Coach. She is a 200-HR Registered Yoga Teacher. She is also a group exercise instructor specializing in barre, spinning, strength training, boot camp, and yoga classes. She has over five years of experience in the fitness and wellness arena with focused expertise in coaching, corrective exercise and injury prevention, individualized fitness programs, and group fitness programs. She is also an aspiring public speaker in the fitness and wellness world who believes in this quote; “To be inspired is great, but to inspire is incredible.”