There is no agreement about the meaning of the term obesity. Not only here, but across the world. Obesity has been associated with wealth and well-being throughout history, and this is still prevalent in some countries to this day. Can we say that obesity is not associated with the diseases of our times? If so, what is the right way to tell if we are obese or have a fairly perfect weight? We will discover all of that together while reading this article. You may want to grab a paper and pen and tape measure for this exercise.
At first, what is the correct definition of obesity? It is defined as an abnormal or excessive accumulation of fat in the fatty tissues, to the extent that the health of the individual is affected. The amount of fat increases and its distribution in the body varies, either around the waist, trunk or around the body. In general, obesity is associated with greater risk of type 2 diabetes (previously discussed) and cardiovascular disease such as high blood pressure, stroke, coronary heart disease, gallbladder disease, certain types of cancers (endometrial, breast, prostate, colon). Obesity has also been linked to other diseases including gout, osteoporosis and infertility. Obesity also poses serious implications for mental health, mainly because of societal bias against obesity.
When we talk about Sudan’s statistics, a study was conducted at the end of 2017 that included 7239 individuals (all adults). The necessary information was taken from the participants to calculate BMI (Body Mass Index) and other measurements including body weight, height and waist circumference. The prevalence of obesity was 21.2%. Central obesity (i.e., abdominal area) had a higher prevalence among Sudanese women. This percentage is alarming, as obesity and central obesity were associated with diabetes and hypertension.
How do I rate my weight, whether normal or abnormal?
By calculating BMI, a value derived from weight and height, you get an idea of whether you’re obese or not. It tells you if you are obese, or within moderate weight, or less than normal weight. This classification relies on metric units. The equation states that the weight is divided in kilograms per square meter.
It is important to note the fact that it is just an indicator of the degree of obesity. It does not take into account the body components such as bone density or muscle mass or distribution. For example, people with a high fitness level may have a high BMI due to high muscle mass, not because of the accumulated fat. This indicator applies to adults except for pregnant women, nursing mothers and professional athletes.
What does the result tell you?
• If the indicator is reading less than 16, your weight is very low.
• If you are between 16-18.5 you are thin.
• If you are between 18.5 to 25 your weight is normal.
• If you are between 25-30 you are overweight.
• If you are 30-35, you are obese.
• If you are over 35, you are suffering from excessive obesity.
Another way to measure obesity is through waist circumference. The fat around the waist is more dangerous than the fat in the buttocks or any other part of the body. Retracting of waist measurement means a decrease in the amount of fat in the body.
Does obesity really endanger our lives?
According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, obesity is an increasingly public and global health crisis. "Those who ignore they are overweight are putting themselves at risk - the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer and other life-threatening diseases” said Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute of Health Metrics and Assessment at the University of Washington.
Are there any reasons for obesity you may not know?
1. Lack of sleep: the first reason is obvious - if we stay up late, the possibility of eating snacks in the late hours of the night increases significantly. This will increase the consumption of daily calories, and will over time cause obesity. The second reason is biochemical - when we deprive ourselves of sleep, it changes the levels of hormones that lead to an increased feeling of hunger. It also makes us feel that the typical amount of food that we eat, which usually makes us full, is not enough, thus we eat more.
2. Stress: when life becomes more intense the body enters into a state of defense where it releases the stress hormone cortisol. It makes us crave "comfort food", a foods that is rich in calories, which is considered a fertile ground for obesity.
3. Taking antidepressants.
What are the ways to prevent obesity?
· Reduce the proportion of foods that cause an increase in weight, including ready-made food, fast food and fried food.
· Focus on food that maintains the health of the body, as it contains all the nutrients like vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein, such as: vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and low-fat or low-fat dairy products.
· Follow the healthy ways of preparing food while preparing it at home. Boiling or roasting are the best methods. Try to move away or minimize frying.
· Reduce the amount of food you eat during the day. The amount you consume should contain the highest proportion of fiber and the lowest proportion of carbohydrates.
· Avoid soft drinks and canned juices, reduce the fruit juices as they also contain sugar, and replace them with vegetable juices such as beet juice.
· Drink water before eating, as it helps increasing the feeling of fullness and reduce the amount of needed food.
· Exercise or practice sports activities of different types, as they help in burning excess calories, contribute to strengthening the body and increase the muscle mass that stimulates fat burning in the body.
And last but not least, don’t shop while hungry, to avoid the purchase of unhealthy foods.
In conclusion, we must pay attention to the issue of our weights as obesity is linked to many diseases. We should watch out for our children if they suffer from obesity, introducing them to programs of reducing weight, and motivating them to eat healthy to avoid health problems in the future.
May you always stay healthy and well!