Obesity has reached a disastrous level in recent times and statistics are increasingly worrying. Recent research has shown that there are more than one billion adults who are believed to be either overweight or obese globally. The same research also shows that about 300 million of these adults are obese. It also shows that 66% of American adults are overweight and 32% of them are obese.
Obesity in children is getting out of hand real fast too. The number of obese American children who are obese has doubled since 1980, while the number has tripled in teenagers. It has also become a global epidemic, and the highest numbers have been recorded in middle-income and high-income. These numbers are on the rise and there seems to be no sign of them stopping.
Why the numbers are on the rise
There are a number of factors that have played a part in the increase of overweight and obesity cases globally. Apart from genetic factors, lifestyle changes have played a major role in the increased rate of obesity cases. Processed foods that contain a lot of fats and sugar are everywhere and readily available to anyone without limit. The modern life has encouraged laziness by making most things effortlessly available. We end up taking in more calories than we can possibly burn.
Obesity can be the root of so many life threatening health conditions from diabetes, heart diseases, to stroke, and even cancers. It can make life miserable for a number of reasons that are not even health related and can even cut short a life that would have otherwise been very interesting.
The good news is, every individual can play a part in the fight against obesity and being overweight. Leading and encouraging a healthy lifestyle and eating habits starting from childhood are the key aspects in the fight against obesity. Parents and all adults in general should be an example and encourage children to make healthy life choices like being physically active and following healthy eating habits. Here are a few tips on how you can lead a healthy lifestyle:
i. Have breakfast everyday- Breakfast is believed to be a very important meal of the day. Studies suggest that taking a healthy breakfast prepares you for an active day and it also reduces your chances of eating too much calories during the day. Some people may think that skipping calories will help cut calories but actually the opposite will happen. It will eat more calories than you would have actually eaten if you’ve had had your breakfast. Long-term studies showed that people who skipped breakfast added more weight compared to those who had their breakfast on a daily basis.
ii. Minimize screen time- Using computers and TVs limit physical activities and the less time we spend on them the higher the chances of improving our health.
iii. Focus on the food portion size- Always check the portion size of the food you take, be it at home or in a restaurant. Eating large portions of food means taking in more calories and may lead to weight gain. You should take sizable portions of food and make sure children take smaller portions in comparison to adults.
iv. Increase calcium intake- Calcium helps in the breakdown of fats and the more calcium you take, the more fats you burn. Studies have shown that individuals who take more calcium tend to lose a little extra weight compared to people who don’t. The same studies have also suggested that although calcium from low- fat dairy products are effective, the one from other sources like orange juice and broccoli can also be equally effective.
v. Eat foods that are high in fiber- Foods that are high in fiber, like brown rice, have little fat, few calories and keeps you full for longer. Take a high-fiber food for lunch and you probably won’t need any other food until supper time. This is because fiber foods take longer to digest meaning your blood sugar stays constant instead of falling and spiking rapidly. Starting your day with high-fiber cereals is a good way to include fiber in your diet.
vi. Include vegetables in your diet- Green and raw vegetables like zucchini, broccoli, and carrots contain high amounts of water and fiber that are slow to digest. This makes them good for filling the stomach for longer. They are also remarkably low in fats, which make them healthy. Studies have shown that vegetarians have less weight problems compared to meat eaters. It also showed that vegetarians tend to contain higher levels of folate, carotenoids and vitamin C and E, which are vital for body health.
vii. Turn to chicken, beans and fish for protein- It is advisable to include proteins in every meal, but that does not necessarily mean taking too much proteins. Just make it a point to include some proteins in your meals. Studies have shown that people who include proteins in every meal tend to feel less hungry and lose weight faster than those with low- protein diets that are high in carbohydrates. Taking enough proteins and a substantially lowering the amount of carbohydrates when dieting will help you lose fats and not muscles.
However, try not to use too much protein as this might lead to other health complications such as kidney problems, especially in people who are obese and suffer from type 2 diabetes.
viii. A few nuts won’t do no harm- Nuts have been proved to be harmless even though they contain a certain amount of fat. Actually, researchers suggest that they may help you lose weight. The fats found in the nuts will fill your stomach and the proteins will use calories during digestion. People who eat nuts often were found to have lower BMIs compared to those who don’t.
A study that involves 65 individuals was done to show if nuts help in weight loss. The first group added 3 ounces (90 grams) of almonds to a liquid calorie diet while the second group added carbohydrates like baked potatoes and popcorn. After 24 weeks of eating the same amount of proteins and calories, the first group reduced more weight, compared to the second group.
ix. Keep track of your body weight changes- Keep track of your weight, BMI and waist circumference so as to detect any weight gain or loss. You should also keep track of your children’s growth.
x. Be physically active- Try to find activities to indulge in, either alone or with your family or friends. Being physically active helps your body to maintain balance between calories in and calories out.
Prevention is always better than cure and that applies even in the case of obesity. Obesity has proved to be costly both health wise and moneywise. It is a global health disaster and it is important that everyone gets acquainted with the preventive measures. The fight against obesity starts from every single individual.
We need to make lifestyle changes and encourage healthy eating habits in our homes to prevent childhood obesity and other related health complications in future. This will save us a lot of money that is otherwise spent on treatments and research related to obesity on a daily basis.