Obesity or overweight is a major concern in developed countries and it’s slowly crawling in urban areas of developing countries. The urban lifestyle and food habits are the major contributing factor for exponential growth of obesity. For developing countries like India, we don’t see obesity as a threat as of now but it’s going to be serious matter of concern as it invites multiples ailments and associated severe out of pocket expenditure. Obesity is the main medical and financial burden of government as well as individual. It’s quite unbearable for the countryman with low per capita income. As per the World Bank statistics published in 2018, per capita income of India is ~$2000.

According to the studies carried out by ICMR-INDIAB in 2015, prevalence rate of obesity and central rate of obesity varies between 11.8%-31.3% and 16.9%-36.3% respectively. Obesity is the prime factor for cardiovascular diseases (CVD) in India along and diabetes. India is home to 77 million diabetics, 2nd in the world and hold 61st rank in CVD.

How can we fight obesity……?

The unforeseen catastrophe can be prevented by spreading awareness, leading healthy lifestyle, balanced diet, regular workouts and yoga. Government should formulate policies to spread public awareness, mandatory inclusion of healthy lifestyle, food habits and physical activities in school, colleges, institutions and public and private establishments.

What are Healthy Lifestyles…….?

Do we lead healthy lifestyle? The answer is no. Most of us occasionally do exercise, some recreational activities and tries to have good diet. We do have fair to good lifestyle but not healthy one. So how can we lead “Healthy Lifestyle”? The secret lies within us. Here some of the tips which can help you maintain healthy lifestyle and help you become heathy mental and physical being. 

  • Keep Hydrated

In a study carried out by Harvard University in 2017, maintain proper hydration helps in regulating body temperature, lubricating joints, regulating vitamins and minerals, sleep quality and cognitive abilities. It is observed that individual with proper hydration supposed to be in good mood relative to people with less hydration. 

  • Sleep Duration

Different epidemiological studies in different geographical locations have established the relationship between the sleep duration and obesity. The subjects with sleep <6h were found to be obese compared to subjects with 1h extra sleep. It is observed that one hour of extra seep helps in reducing and average BMI by 0.35 kg/m2.  In India, people living in villages are less prone to obese than individuals stuck in the strings of urban life. The difference is sleeping pattern experienced by the individuals from different geographic locations. A good sleep leads to stress less day and helps you maintain sound mental health.

  • Late Sleep

Due to multiple professional, personal and social commitment we often hit sack late in night which affects our sleep quality and sleep duration. Some experts believe that sleeping late is linked to increased cortisol hormone which is responsible for increasing in weight.

National sleep foundation found that individuals sleeping late and having dinner after 8PM are at higher risk of increased weight. The late sleepers are prone to consume extra calorie due to availability of surplus time.

  • Healthy Body Weight

Regulating healthy body weight is important for wellbeing of the individual. One should maintain body mass index (BMI) of 18.5-24.9. Ideal body weight can help you prevent several life-threatening diseases and lead healthy and happy life.

  • Say No to Stress and Depression

It has long been established between long-term stress, depression and obesity. These chronic situations lean towards comfort eating. It often involves overeating of sugar rich, high fat content food which in turns leads to weight gain. However, the short-term stress could be responsible for weight less due to release of corticotrophin hormone.

  • Quit Smoking & Drinking

The risk obesity associated with smokers depend upon the severity of smoking they have carried in the past. Former heavy smokers are more prone to obesity than the light smokers. Quitting smoking may increase body weight temporarily so we need to have weight management plan in place before stopping smoking.

Studies carried out by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis established the relationship between obesity and alcoholism in 2011. After taking care of other parameters, researchers found out that the individuals with family history of alcoholism are prone to obesity than the other group of individuals. It also to do with the changing food environment during drinking

  • Healthy Sex

Sex is good for our health; it helps you burn extra calories and make you happy at the same time. It will not have impact like heavy gym exercise but it’s going to help in reducing weight. There is a book by Richard Smith on “Weight Loss Before, During and After Sex”. It quantifies the number of calories burnt during different circumstances.

Various studies suggest that intercourse burns calorie, reduces stress and boost the immunity system. On average sex burns 150-200calories per half an hour. People prefer different diet plan and food deprivation for weight loss while having no fun in it. Instead of doing these painful activities people should think of including sex in their diet which is more fun and helps in reducing weight along with multiple benefits.

What are Healthy Food Habits………?

Food habits are integral part of life cycle and it’s “Organic”, it changes through space and time. Different geographies have different food habit and its changes as the individual ages. Whatever food habits we did have in our childhood it would not be same in adulthood or in old stage. The habits have very big footprint in our life than we can imagine and especially on our health. These have short, long and very long-term impact on our health. The proverb “We Reap what we sow” is very apt in reference of health and food habits.

The food we eat provides fuel to our cells and allows them to function specific activities. Think of it as planting crops. Ideally, we need right seed, right soil, right fertilizer, optimum water and sunlight to have good harvest. However, if we lack in any of the aforesaid attributes; our harvest would not be good. Drawing the analogy, the crop is our body and one of the attributes is food habit. In order to attain a healthy being one should be very careful of their food habits.

Food Habits have great impact on our life especially the body weight which is precursor to several deadly lifestyle diseases. However healthy food habits can reduce the body weight and subtle its impact on health. But what are the ingredients of healthy food habits? Some of the tips of healthy food habits and its impacts are described below:

  • Food Diversity

Food diversity is an internationally accepted recommendation of healthy diet. Several studies have shown the importance of food stuff diversity on human health. Food diversity have three aspects namely: number, distribution and calorie value of the consumed food item. On average 50% of our nutrition comes from three food grains wheat, rice and maze. However, we need to spice up our food habits with various regional food items to have better health outcome.

A cross-section studies carried out by Filipino Women’s diet and health study (FiLWHEL) on 402 married women and found out that dietary diversity is inversely related to abdominal and general obesity. The study suggests that the group of people with high dietary diversity are less prevalence to obesity than the people with less food diversity. 

  • Green and Leafy Vegetables

Green and leafy vegetables are rich source of vitamin, minerals and fiber with low calorie in our diet. An individual can have large quantity of vegetables without having much of the calories. Fiber helps in digestion and avoid any short of gastrointestinal ailments. It provides smooth bowel movements and helps in timely removal of unnecessary toxic substances in our body. People with smooth digestion are less prevalence to abdominal and general obesity.

Green and leafy vegetables along with fat-rich meal would is helpful in reducing α-tocopherol/lipid level. In the study carried out by Filipino Women’s diet and health study (FiLWHEL), the analysis shows that women with vegetable diversity have 49% or 50% less prevalence of abdominal or general obesity.

  • Vitamin and Mineral Rich Diet

In developing countries like India, more than 50%-60%of people heavily relies on stable die like wheat, rice and maze. Despite of consuming excessive amount of food, people in India are deficient in micronutrients.

Micronutrient deficiencies have been widely observed in obese people around the world. These deficiencies clearly affect the leptin and insulin metabolism as conclude from various studies. It may indicate the pathway of diabetes in obese population. Major et al. found that individuals who took dietary vitamin-mineral supplements were found to be leaner and had lower fat percentage than the non-consumers.  

  • Protein Rich Diet

Protein is essential nutrient for proper functioning of our body, It’s the building block of every cell and determines their functionality. Protein helps in building and repairing muscles, skin, tissue and nails. On average an adult should have 0.8 grams of protein per every kilogram of bodyweight per day. So, if an individual body weight if 68 kilograms then he/she should consume 55 grams of protein every day. 

High protein rich diet is known for reducing abdominal and general obesity. High protein diet is more effective in short-term for weight loss while it fares similar results in long term. Factors responsible for weight loss due to consumption of high protein diet are:

  • More Satiety
  • Enhanced Thermic Effect
  • Improved Body Consumption

Some of the protein rich foods are meat, pork, fish, egg, milk, cheese, beans, lentils, nuts etc.

  • Seasonal and Local Fruit

Fruits are rich source of micronutrient and unretouched flavor. Seasonal fruits are harvested at its peak and it contains full nutrients and vitamins, as it is naturally ripped without any interference of human. It also promotes the ecological balance with the surroundings.

5 Benefits of going seasonal

  • Reduced Footprint
  • Reduced Pesticide
  • Cost Effective
  • Rich Nutrients
  • Rich Flavor
  • Ecological Harmony

Optimum intake of fruit and vegetables helps in reducing chances of chronic diseases. The World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agriculture of United Nations recommends 5 servings of fruit and vegetables for adults. Through studies it is observed that fruit and low-starchy vegetables are low in energy and contains high water and fiber content and can be consumed in large amount with increases satiety level to maintain normal weight.

  • Say No to Overeating

Our lifestyle is such that we end up eating more and more. The major factors are widely availability and accessibility of delicious food and snacks. During office we end up putting more calories than we burn by various means like coffee, outside lunch and various types of unhealthy snacks and after office we end up hitting our bed or couch and watching TV /Web Series etc. Several studies found that we consume more calories while watching TV than only eating. 

Overeating is one of the major causes of obesity in Tier I cities, but this lifestyle is slowly crawling in Tier II & III cities. People should avoid putting extra calories to remain healthy and avoid uninvited guests in their bodies. 

  • Avoid Outside and Fast Food

More than 95% of the foods available outside are unhealthy. Fast foods are rich in sugar, fats, carbs and less in vitamins and minerals while outside foods are rich in saturated fats and spices with their suspicious origin. It possesses serious health condition among consumers. In India a very large demographic group is bound to consume these unhealthy foods on regular basis.

According to National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey the fast food intake in people are continuously increasing every year. There are four basic reason of why fast food is linked with obesity.

  • Ingredient
  • Portion
  • Cost
  • Convenience
  • Reduce Salt and Sugar Intake

It’s always been advocated that excess of sugar and salt is bad for health. We should consume the enough sugar and salt. On average an adult shouldn’t have daily intake of salt more than 5g and 70g of sugar. These high intakes may be directly linked with elevated blood pressure, inflammation, cardiovascular diseases and death.

In ideal case we don’t need added sugar, our boy can convert carbohydrate in glucose/fructose which is enough for body in normal circumstances. The phrase “added sugar” was adopted by USDA in 2000 to distinguish sugars put in during processing. Increased added sugar intake is directly linked with risk of abdominal and general obesity. 

What are Physical Activities………?

The WHO defines physical activities as any sort of bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy consumption for example: sports, running, swimming. It may include activities carried out during office, playing, doing chores, traveling and any sort of recreational activities. It has long-term as well as short-term benefits.

As per WHO statistics, globally 1 in 4 adults are not active enough and reduced physical activities are leading factors of death worldwide. More than 80% of the adolescent population are insufficiently physically active.

Insufficient physical activity is the major factor of increasing mortality among the people of various ages. Individuals who are insufficiently active have 20% to 30% increased risk of death compared to people who are active.

Benefits of physical Activities:

  • Improved muscular and cardiovascular fitness
  • Improved bone and functional health
  • Reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, strokes, diabetes, cancers and depression
  • Energy balance and weight control

Physical activities play very important role in energy balance and weight loss. The individuals who are suffering from long-term weight gain should opt for physical activities. Apart from reducing weight it has multi-functional role which will help to maintain your health. 

What are Different Types of Physical Activities…….?

  • Exercise

One shouldn’t confuse exercise with physical activities. Exercise is subset of physical activities in which we perform predefined activities carried out in repetitive manner in order to improve or maintain one or more aspect of physical fitness. It can be of moderate-intensity or of vigorous-intensity depending upon the outcome we seek.

Physical activities increase body energy expenditure which help to maintain a proper body shape or lose weight. Obese or overweight people should prefer moderate or vigorous intensity exercise depending upon the magnitude of body weight reduction they are looking forward.  

  • Running

Running is considered as master of all the physical activities. It affects all the body parts uniformly. So, if an individual is running daily, he/she may not require performing any exercise on top of this. Running is considered as closest thing to miracle drug. 

Benefits of running:

  • Strong bones and muscles
  • Improved cardiovascular fitness
  • Mental health
  • Burns plenty of calories
  • Maintains healthy body weight

Running helps in reducing cardiovascular diseases risk and at the same time maintains healthy body weight.  Getting used to running, if you haven’t done before can be brutal but once your mind and body acclimatized, running could be a bliss and provide a sense of pleasure. 

  • Sports

Weather its football, basketball or some organized polo, playing sports makes you healthier and happier because in involves physical activities which releases endorphin and makes you happier. It improves not only the physical wellbeing of the individual but also the mental wellbeing. Playing sports can prevent many non-communicable diseases (NCD) and lifestyle diseases and reduce the chance of mortality by 20% to 30%. So, what are the benefits of playing sports?

  • Healthy and happier
  • Physical and mental fitness
  • Enhances team spirit and problem-solving skills
  • Reduce stress and depression

The spirit of sports should be inculcated since childhood for all-round development of the individual. It makes you healthier, happier and stronger.

  • Swimming

Swimming is most popular sports in the countries surrounded by water. Swimming is more like a passion than exercise but yes, it can make you healthier and happier. People ca do competitive as well recreational swimming and it can also be used as vigorous intensity exercise for your entire body. An hour of swimming will burn as much as calorie than running and helps you maintain your body weight. 

Swimming doesn’t require any pre-requisite fitness like many other physical activities. People who can’t run can go for swimming and gets the similar benefits as running. Some of the benefits of swimming are enlisted below:

  • Whole body exercise
  • No pre-requisite fitness
  • Burns calories 
  • Improve sleep and reduce stress
  • Safe during pregnancy
  • Cost effective
  • Yoga 

Yoga and meditation are more prudent for mental fitness than the physical. But there are various asanas which can provide positive results in maintain physical fitness at the same time maintain the mental wellbeing in perfect harmony. Yoga can be performed by the wide range of people although they might have pre-existing health and fitness condition and achieve good results.

According to NCBI research conducted on group of people, IAYT (Integrated Approach of Yoga Therapy) yoga training is successful in reducing the anthropological parameters of body weight, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, hip circumference etc. The group were divided in two, one with IAYT and other without any structured activity and the results were assessed after 3 months and it was found that the yoga group were successful in reducing BMI by ~2 units. The IAYT training comprises below mentioned yoga.

  • Loosening Exercises 
  • Suryanamaskara 
  • Asana 
  • Pranayama 
  • Meditation

Obesity is widely observed event across the globe. It is not a disease, but it should be looked in that way since it is the root cause of several life-threatening diseases and even death. Nonetheless it can be prevented and its associated mortality by judicious conjunction of healthy lifestyle, food habits and most important physical activity. “Be Healthy, Stay Fit and Live Happy”.