Obesity is a condition of excess body
weight. Males with over 20% body fat or females with over 25% body fat are
considered obese. The concept that obesity is a will-power or
self-disciplined problem is outdated. However, there is no clear
understanding of the biochemical defects that cause it.
- Genetic factors
- Environmental factors including diet and eating habits, activity
levels, stress (emotional and physical), drugs, cultural
- Metabolic and endocrine disorders
- Abnormal regulation of body weight to body fat
- Central nervous system lesions
Life-long adherence to a program consisting of proper diet and nutrition,
exercising, and behavior and lifestyle modification as needed.
If other causes have been excluded, obesity can be
controlled with careful attention to diet and exercise. Making healthy choices
in grocery stores and in restaurants, and
participating in a life-long exercise routine is truly the best medicine.
Obesity may contribute to the development of diabetes, high blood pressure,
heart disease and gallbladder disease. It complicates treatment and decreases
survival chances of patients with stroke, kidney disease and other disorders.
Psychosocial complications include poor self-image, difficulty in getting jobs,
and lack of social contacts with opposite sex.
Diagnosis and treatment
The most accurate method of determining body
composition is underwater weighing and skinfold
measurements of multiple sites. Also used are BMI (body mass index) and waist
to hip ratio (WHR).
Many commercial and community programs are
available that provide help in losing weight. Choose a program whose diet plans meet the RDA guidelines for nutrients, provides
exercise and behavior counseling, and includes long-term maintenance support.
Keep diaries for food intake, exercise
activities and behavior changes. Review them with your weight loss advisor
Several techniques exist for behavioral modification. Determine the type that
fits your needs (e.g., assertiveness, rewards, cognitive, substitution,
imagery, and others.
Surgical procedures to reduce weight, such
as bypassing part of the intestine or stomach, cutting away fat, fat
suctioning, or wiring the jaw shut, are desperate measures. They are used only
in extreme circumstances.
Drug therapy as an aid to weight loss may or may not be helpful. Drugs for obesity may be recommended for you on a
trial basis to see if they might be effective. The effectiveness of all
appetite suppressants diminishes after a few weeks. Amphetamine compounds are
not recommended for treating obesity.
Increase your current level of activity. Daily exercise (bicycle riding,
walking, swimming and others) helps you lose weight, feel better, and control
appetite. Thirty-minutes of activity, 5 times a week should be the goal. Keep and activity diary to monitor your progress.
Many different diet plans are available to choose
from. Diets that are not nutritionally balanced can cause more problems than
the obesity. Crash diets diets don’t produce
long-term results. Schemes which promise easy weight loss are usually
unsuccessful. During your diet and exercise program, there may be periods when
you don’t lose weight. This is normal; don’t stop the program.
Weight loss will begin again in a week or two.
A realistic weight loss is 1 to 2 ½
pounds a week. This may seem slow, but 1 pound of fat lost per week totals 52
pounds in 1 year! Keep a food diary to record everything you eat.
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