The accepted body mass index, or BMI, for most adults is somewhere between 18.5 to 24.9. The body mass index basically compares your weight against height to work out if your body weight is healthy or not. So, age, gender, and height are ideally the key parameters to identify if you are overweight, underweight, or simply obese. Citing the example of the age group between 2-18, if your BMI comes to the above-mentioned figure, you are lying within the healthy weight range. Anything below 18.5 is underweight, a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is where overweight lies, and above 30 is the obesity zone. That being said, overweight, obesity and extended waistlines are pressing problems of the current times. Childhood obesity is often blamed on longer screen time, lesser physical activities, increasing competition, and intake of too many calories from junk food and carbonated drinks. For adults, the reasons are more varied but are all directly linked to unhealthy lifestyle choices. Unsurprisingly, two out of three adults in the US are obese, as per current statistics. It is a chronic ailment, spawning a plethora of diseases, from heart issues to cholesterol, blood pressure, and many more. Most experts believe that a balanced obesity diet plan might be the answer to the pressing problem. The question is – how much truth is there behind the said belief?
Before we dive deep into the debate, let’s understand what is meant by obesity. As earlier mentioned, obesity is a health condition defined by the accumulation of excess fat in the body. It is chronic in the sense that excess weight gain can easily become the root cause of more severe health conditions if left untreated. The BMI, or the measurement of body weight, follows a simple formula for calculation: #kg/m^2. Kg or kilograms measure your weight, and m^2 or meter square symbolizes your height. The difference between obesity and overweight is simply the difference existing in the BMI for both.
Now, coming back to the main question, it is chronic and high-risk because obesity can reward you with lifelong ailments, such as:
1. Heart diseases and strokes
2. Type 2 diabetes
3. Increase the risk of cancer
4. Digestive problems
5. Sleep apnea
7. Fatty liver disease
Obesity is the aftermath of three different factors combined: genetics, lifestyle, and hormonal imbalances. The following are few examples of unhealthy lifestyle choices responsible for obesity in urban citizens:
Large, unhealthy meals comprising refined grains, red meat, unhealthy fat, and sugary drinks are cited as the urban poison, giving rise to various health issues, including obesity. A healthy diet for obesity, including a balanced quantity of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and nuts, can curb excess weight gain and reduce the risk of other chronic diseases.
Extended screen time
Too much screen time keeps netizens stuck to their couch for hours. The harmful rays from smartphones, laptops, and televisions not only disrupt the natural sleep clock in their body but they are also exposed to food and beverage advertising. Such ads also push them towards unhealthy food choices.
Minimal physical activity
The modern lifestyle influenced by tech gadgets and smartphones has turned netizens into couch potatoes. Binge-watching and eating are lifestyle choices, also triggered by technology, which propagates the convenience of getting everything delivered to our doorstep. Hence, taking a walk to the local market has become a thing of the past. Alongside a comprehensive obesity diet plan, a little physical activity is essential.
The increasing influence of the Western lifestyle is also a significant contributor, disrupting our regular sleep patterns and giving rise to obesity in people.
The physical and social environment plays a crucial role in the unhealthy food and lifestyle choices made by people. The environment has become toxic, thereby leaving less space for exercising. Atop that, the incessant marketing of poisonous food and drinks and their availability at school, in the office, or in the nearby store have driven people towards them even more.
Hormones in our body work like chemical messengers regulating various processes to ensure the accurate functioning of our body. These hormones are the greatest drivers influencing our growth, appetite, metabolism, and body fat distribution. Leptin, insulin, and ghrelin are some of the key examples where any abnormality in the hormonal function can result in abnormal behavior of our metabolism and often lead to excessive accumulation of body weight. Experts believe that effective management of obesity through diet can indirectly regularize the functioning of such hormones.
Let’s understand the correlation between obesity and these hormones:
Obesity and Leptin
Leptin is the hormone generated by fat cells and secreted into the bloodstream. It not only controls the specific parts of our brain triggering appetite signals but also influences the body’s ability to store fat. Any dysfunction in leptin secretion can disrupt the brain’s appetite signals, eventually turning off our capability to quit eating even when the body is full. Leptin is produced by fat, as stated before. So, automatically, its levels would be higher in people who have abnormal body weight. Here, physical activities and proper diet to control obesity become imperative.
Obesity and Ghrelin
Ghrelin is another hormone stimulating appetite. Unlike leptin, which suppresses appetite, ghrelin manipulates our eating behavior. Also, this hormone influences the release of growth hormones while managing how the body stores fat. Patients who are overweight or borderline obese are more vulnerable to binge eating and emotional eating. Here, the FTO gene has a significant role to play. FTO, or fat mass and obesity-associated protein in excess, increases the ghrelin hormone levels in the body, making the person more biologically prone to eat more.
Obesity and Insulin
Insulin hormone is generally produced by the pancreas and is tasked with regulating carbohydrates and fat metabolism in our body. Insulin is known to stimulate glucose accumulation in the body tissues in muscles and liver. In a normal scenario, insulin provides the energy a body needs for its everyday functioning. The hormone is responsible for preserving the normal glucose levels circulating through the bloodstream to the tissues. However, in an abnormal scenario, for example, an obese person will lack the ability to capture insulin signals. This will impair the tissues’ capability to control glucose levels. Type 2 diabetes is one such after-effect of dysfunctional insulin in the body. Therefore, a balanced diet for obesity is always prescribed to prevent fat accumulation and an increase in blood sugar levels leading to diabetes.
As per studies, leptin and ghrelin hormones are linked to excessive gestational weight gain, especially in pregnant women. Nearly two-thirds of pregnant women are known to exceed the recommended levels of gestational weight gain. This leads to numerous other complications, especially with the health of the offspring. A doctor’s prescribed diet plan for obese females might help keep the hormones under check and avert any complications arising during pregnancy.
Additionally, higher levels of ghrelin make it challenging for people who are trying to reduce or maintain their body weight. It can impact the sleep-wake cycle, taste, and sensation and contribute to food and alcohol misuse.
Contrarily, low leptin secretion can result in uncontrolled appetite. In fact, some studies have connected low leptin levels with class 3 obesity in children and delayed puberty. Slower metabolism and frequent bacterial infections are the other two after-effects of abnormally low leptin hormone secretion. Maintaining a balanced diet plan for childhood obesity can help regulate leptin release in the body as per age and gender requirements.
Experts believe ghrelin levels increase when their obesity diet plan lacks enough calories. Also, an empty stomach and a nutrient-less diet can accentuate the said problem. Therefore, a balanced diet should comprise the following items to maintain ghrelin hormone levels:
1. Vegetables and fruits
3. Low-fat dairy
4. Lean protein
5. Naturally occurring oils found in nuts and fatty fish
On the other hand, the leptin diet emphasizes the importance of portion control. However, a leptin-related obesity diet menu plan should be accompanied by easy and simple exercises for better results. This lifestyle change will surely help deal with overweight and obesity. The balanced diet should comprise 40% of protein, 30% fat, and 30% of carbohydrates
Here’s a list of food choices to opt for when planning a leptin diet plan for obesity:
3. Nut butter in moderation
5. Cottage cheese
6. Protein sources like fish, meat, chicken, and turkey
7. Protein-dense grains and legumes, like quinoa, oatmeal, and lentils
Obesity increases the risks of heart diseases like stroke and other cardiovascular health issues. Besides observing an effective diet for obesity, a few healthy changes should be incorporated to see better results.
Here are a few non-negotiable tips to follow:
1. Eat Better: An obesity diet plan should include nutritious foods, such as fruits, vegetables, lean protein, nuts and seeds.
2. Be More Active: Strive for at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week.
3. Quit Tobacco: This is non-negotiable to avert preventable chronic diseases and death.
4. Get Healthy Sleep: Ensure your body gets seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night. This induces optimal brain function and reduces the risk of chronic disease.
5. Manage Weight: A healthy body mass index is essential for a strong heart.
6. Control Cholesterol: High LDL cholesterol levels cause heart disease. Therefore, a healthy mix of regular exercise and a nutritious diet can keep LDL cholesterol under check.
7. Manage Blood Sugar: Regulate your blood sugar with healthy foods and reduce the risks of damaged heart and other organs over time.
8. Manage Blood Pressure: Maintain your blood pressure levels to improve heart function and keep it healthier for longer.
9. Experts’ Recommendations: It’s always recommended to consult a physician and incorporate the changes in your lifestyle accordingly.
Obesity is the undesired gift of modern life. But it doesn’t necessarily mean overweight, heart problems, and other-related vices should become our reality. There are ways to prevent obesity and lead a healthy life. So, consult a doctor and opt for a balanced obesity diet plan to keep the extra calories and fat from accumulating in the body. Also, include physical activities in your daily regime to witness the change.
1. Is obesity is preventable?
Ans. Yes obesity is preventable by following a balanced diet, a healthy change in lifestyle, and physical exercises.
2. What is the best way to prevent and treat obesity?
Ans. Here are a few ways to prevent obesity or treat it:
1. Choosing healthier foods
2. Limiting unhealthy foods and drinks
3. Limiting screen time
4. Adding physical activities
5. Reducing alcohol
3. What are signs of obesity?
Ans. A few signs of obesity are:
1. Sleep apnea or difficulty sleeping
2. Back and joint pains
3. Excessive sweating
4. Intolerance to heat
4. What is weight control?
Ans. The effort to maintain a certain weight through diet and exercise.
5. Can lifestyle modification help you to lose weight?
Ans. Yes, a healthy lifestyle modification can help lose weight.
6. How can physical activity reduce body fat?
Ans. Physical activity decreases fat around the waist and slow the development of abnormal obesity.
7. Is waist circumference a risk factor of obesity?
Ans. Obesity is a disorder typically characterized by an increase in body weight, which is measured by waist circumference.
8. How to measure abdominal fat?
Ans. The waist to hip ratio measures abdominal fat.
9. How does obesity effect women’s health?
Ans. Extra weight in women leads to heart diseases, diabetes, and even cancer.
10. How does obesity affect male fertility?
Ans. Obese men are likely to have a low sperm count compared to their normal-weight peers.