Obesity – Daily Sun

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“You have put on so much weight” “I don’t know where all this fat is coming from” “ I now eat only once a day, but I still won’t lose any weight” “I have tried many methods but none seems to be helping me lose weight” “What more is there to do?” Some even say, “I need to start eating more healthy, but first, I need to eat all the junk in the house so there is nothing to tempt me when I start.” Which of the above phrases do you use or have you heard most? Whichever phrase chosen is most likely used to describe excess unwanted weight. Obesity is a medical condition that involves excessive fat accumulation in the body that may have negative effects on health. Obese individuals are most times called fat, overweight, plump or chubby. Many times, in parts of Nigeria, individuals seek medical help to identify what has caused weight loss and when assessed properly they are found to be overweight or obese and are counselled to lose some more weight. This is so because there is a perception that accumulating a lot of body fat is a sign of healthy and prosperous living in many parts of the country. To add, some parents consider it a thing of pride and joy to have an obese child who is stylishly described as being a little too chubby. To them, their ward is well fed and displays their affluence. Obesity, whether it is accepted, celebrated, rejected, talked about or not, poses health risk to the individual affected by it. It can lead to development of certain medical conditions or worsen already existing conditions. Hence it is important that individuals maintain a healthy body weight. It is easier to gain weight than to lose it as it requires conscious efforts (lifestyle changes) on the part of the person affected, to lose weight, which is not the case with weight gain that is often a gradual build-up and the person suddenly realises he/she will be needing larger sizes of clothes as the old ones don’t fit anymore. Obesity can affect men or women, young or old and cuts across ethnic, racial, educational, social or religious backgrounds. In essence, anyone can become obese. Though once regarded as an issue found only in high income countries, obesity is now on the increase in low and middle–income countries, particularly in urban settings which may be due to urbanisation and lifestyle changes noticed in recent times. With people working longer hours, having less time or motivation to exercise and eat healthy, increase in stress levels amongst individuals, and with more focus on productivity there is a compromise on healthy living, which involves healthy eating and exercise. There has also been an upward trend in the consumption of processed foods and beverages, replacing healthy diet from natural components with refined or processed substances (junk), which does not provide essential nutrients needed to maintain good health. Although unhealthy dietary choices and decrease in the level of physical activity are primary in the development of obesity, socioeconomic factors and policies in related sectors of the economy (agriculture, transportation, environment, food processing and advertising amongst others). Overweight and obese children are likely to remain so into adulthood if not checked. Although the cause of obesity is unknown, it has been mostly related to imbalance in energy between calories consumed and calories expended. Also there could be genetic or hormonal factors related to it. Obesity can develop secondarily from some medical conditions or be an effect from the management of certain medical conditions. When more calories are taken into the body than are burnt through exercise or daily activities, the excess calories are stored as fat. A diagnosis of obesity is made when the body mass index is 30(Kg/m2) or higher. Body mass index is obtained by dividing your weight (in kilograms) by your height (in metres) squared. The healthy or target body mass index is between 18.5 to 24.9 while a body mass index of 25 to 29.9 is overweight. Obesity is associated with medical conditions like hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, stroke, cancers, obstructive sleep apnoea, gall bladder disease, infertility, osteoarthritis, amongst others. Therefore, it is very important that obesity is checked and controlled. Fortunately, ways to prevent weight gain are similar to steps taken to lose weight. Obesity can be controlled by certain measures, some of which include: • Eating healthy diet: It is worthy to note that all classes of food are important, but what matters are the quantities taken in. Overall, there should be moderation. Healthy diet varies amongst different ages in the population. Adults, for instance, should eat more fruits, vegetables and proteins with water but less carbohydrates and fat. Whole grains should be the preferred carbohydrate over processed/refined sugars and unsaturated fats (for example avocado, olive oil, fatty fish, nuts) chosen over unsaturated or trans-fat (e.g butter, lard, fried foods, margarine amongst others). • Avoiding sedentary lifestyle: A sedentary lifestyle may be described as one involving little or no physical activity. People are encouraged to be physically active and engage in regular exercise. Sitting or lying down for a prolonged period should be discouraged as they have been linked to the development of obesity. • Avoiding excess alcohol consumption. • Managing stress effectively. • Consistency in following healthy dietary plans and work out routines as recommended by professionals. • Seeking support from family and friends to stay motivated so as to achieve desired healthy weight. •Visiting healthcare professionals for medical assistance. Besides being a medical condition, obesity can sometimes become a cosmetic problem to affected persons and may lead to reduced self-esteem, low self- confidence an depression. Whatever be the effect of obesity, the basic fact remains that it affects the quality of lives of people involved and directly or indirectly affects the quality of lives of the family, community and nation at large. Hence the need to collectively work towards controlling it and success largely depends on individuals making healthier choices.