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 to the 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 a 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 the government as well as individuals. It’s quite unbearable for the countryman with low per capita income. As per the World Bank statistics published in 2018, the per capita income of India is ~$2000.
According to the studies carried out by ICMR-INDIAB in 2015, the 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 holds 61st rank in CVD.
How can we fight obesity……?
The unforeseen catastrophe can be prevented by spreading awareness, leading a 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 schools, colleges, institutions, and public and private establishments.
What are Healthy Lifestyles…….?
Do we lead a healthy lifestyle? The answer is no. Most of us occasionally do exercise, some recreational activities and tries to have a good diet. We do have a fair to good lifestyle but not a healthy one. So how can we lead a “Healthy Lifestyle”? The secret lies within us. Here some of the tips which can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle and help you become a healthy mental and physical being. (1)
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 individuals with proper hydration are supposed to be in good mood relative to people with less hydration.
Different epidemiological studies in different geographical locations have established the relationship between 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 an average BMI by 0.35 kg/m2. In India, people living in villages are less prone to obesity than individuals stuck in the strings of urban life. The difference is the sleeping pattern experienced by individuals from different geographic locations. Good sleep leads to a stress-less day and helps you maintain sound mental health.
Due to multiple professional, personal and social commitments we often hit the sack late in the 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 the increase in weight.
National sleep foundation found that individuals sleeping late and having dinner after 8 PM are at higher risk of increased weight. The late sleepers are prone to consume extra calories due to the availability of surplus time.
Healthy Body Weight
Regulating healthy body weight is important for the well-being of the individual. One should maintain a body mass index (BMI) of 18.5-24.9. Ideal body weight can help you prevent several life-threatening diseases and lead a 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 sugar-rich, high-fat content food which in turn leads to weight gain. However, short-term stress could be responsible for weight loss due to the release of corticotrophin hormone.
Quit Smoking & Drinking
The risk of obesity-associated with smokers depends upon the severity of smoking they have carried in the past. Former heavy smokers are more prone to obesity than light smokers. Quitting smoking may increase body weight temporarily so we need to have a 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 a 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
Sex is good for our health; it helps you burn extra calories and make you happy at the same time. It will not have an 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 150-200 calories per half an hour. People prefer different diet plans 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 an integral part of the 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 the same in adulthood or old stage. The habits have a very big footprint in our life than we can imagine and especially on our health. These have a short, long, and very long-term impact on our health. The proverb “We Reap what we sow” is very apt about health and food habits. (1)
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 the right seed, the right soil, the right fertilizer, optimum water, and sunlight to have a 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. To attain a healthy being one should be very careful of their food habits.
Food Habits have a great impact on our lives especially body weight which is a precursor to several deadly lifestyle diseases. However healthy food habits can reduce 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 their impacts are described below:
Food diversity is an internationally accepted recommendation of a healthy diet. Several studies have shown the importance of foodstuff diversity on human health. Food diversity has 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 outcomes.
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 a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber with low calories in our diet. An individual can have a large number of vegetables without having much of the calories. Fiber helps in digestion and avoids any sort of gastrointestinal ailments. It provides smooth bowel movements and helps in the timely removal of unnecessary toxic substances in our bodies. People with smooth digestion are less prevalence of abdominal and general obesity.
Green and leafy vegetables along with fat-rich meals would help reduce 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 rely on stable dies like wheat, rice, and maze. Despite consuming an 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 affect leptin and insulin metabolism as conclude from various studies. It may indicate the pathway of diabetes in the obese population. Major et al. found that individuals who took dietary vitamin-mineral supplements were found to be leaner and had lower fat percentages than the non-consumers.
Protein is an essential nutrient for the proper functioning of our body, It’s the building block of every cell and determines its functionality. Protein helps in building and repairing muscles, skin, tissue, and nails. On average an adult should have 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. So, if an individual bodyweight is 68 kilograms then he/she should consume 55 grams of protein every day.
A high protein-rich diet is known for reducing abdominal and general obesity. A high protein diet is more effective in the short-term for weight loss while it fares similar results in long term. Factors responsible for weight loss due to consumption of a 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 a 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
- Rich Nutrients
- Rich Flavor
- Ecological Harmony
An optimum intake of fruit and vegetables helps in reducing the chances of chronic diseases. The World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agriculture of United Nations recommend 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 a normal weight.
Say No to Overeating
Our lifestyle is such that we end up eating more and more. The major factors are the wide 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 & 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 conditions 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 is continuously increasing every year. There are four basic reasons why fast food is linked with obesity.
Reduce Salt and Sugar Intake
It’s always been advocated that excess sugar and salt are bad for health. We should consume enough sugar and salt. On average an adult shouldn’t have a 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 an ideal case, we don’t need added sugar, our boy can convert carbohydrates into glucose/fructose which is enough for the 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 the 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 require 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 is insufficiently physically active.
Insufficient physical activity is the major factor of increased mortality among people of various ages. Insufficiently active individuals have a 20% to 30% increased risk of death compared to active people.
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 a very important role in energy balance and weight loss. Individuals who are suffering from long-term weight gain should opt for physical activities. Apart from reducing weight, it has a multi-functional role which will help to maintain your health.
What are Different Types of Physical Activities…….?
One shouldn’t confuse exercise with physical activities. Exercise is a subset of physical activities in which we perform predefined activities carried out repetitively to improve or maintain one or more aspects of physical fitness. It can be moderate-intensity or vigorous-intensity depending upon the outcome we seek.
Physical activities increase body energy expenditure which helps 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 to.
Running is considered the master of all 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 the closest thing to a miracle drug.
Benefits of running:
- Strong bones and muscles
- Improved cardiovascular fitness
- Mental health
- It Burns plenty of calories
- Maintains healthy body weight
Running helps in reducing cardiovascular disease 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 are acclimatized, running could be bliss and provide a sense of pleasure.
Whether it’s football, basketball, or some organized polo, playing sports makes you healthier and happier because it involves physical activities which release 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 the all-round development of the individual. It makes you healthier, happier, and stronger.
Swimming is the most popular sport in the countries surrounded by water. Swimming is more like a passion than exercise but yes, it can make you healthier and happier. People can do competitive as well recreational swimming and it can also be used as a vigorous-intensity exercise for your entire body. An hour of swimming will burn as many calories as 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 swimming and gets 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
Yoga and meditation are more prudent for mental fitness than the physical. But various asanas can provide positive results in maintain physical fitness at the same time maintain mental wellbeing in perfect harmony. Yoga can be performed by a wide range of people although they might have pre-existing health and fitness condition and achieve good results.
According to NCBI research conducted on a 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 was divided into two, one with IAYT and the other without any structured activity, and the results were assessed after 3 months and it was found that the yoga group was successful in reducing BMI by ~2 units. The IAYT training comprises the below-mentioned yoga.
- Loosening Exercises
Obesity is a widely observed event across the globe. It is not a disease, but it should be looked at 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 a healthy lifestyle, food habits, and most important physical activity. “Be Healthy, Stay Fit and Live Happily”.