An old proverb says- “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. If we modify it considering today’s scenario, we can say- “All work and no play makes Jack an obese boy”. Imagine how difficult life it would be if a person is carrying 20 to 30 kg of weight on its back for no reason. That’s what happens to you when you gain weight and carry an extra weight of fat with you. Gaining of weight can be due to many reasons such as hormones, any disease, cancer, drug induced or our own lifestyle. Here we will discuss only about obesity caused by lifestyle.
Sedentary lifestyle and jobs which bound us to desks is making us obese. Too much munching and snacking and moving little is the real cause of lifestyle caused obesity. Changes in life style like hectic schedule, excessive intake of tea and coffee, addiction to smoking, drugs and drinking alcohol and improper sleep causes obesity. If it were only confined to body’s improper shape, it would not bother much but it leads to life threatening diseases such as arteriosclerosis and heart attack. Unfortunately, obesity is a chronic condition and there is no ‘quick fix’ solution or treatment that is effective for all overweight or obese individuals.
What is obesity?
Consuming high amount of energy from diet but NOT burning off this gained energy through physical activities causes the excessive energy to get stored in the form of fat in our body and it leads to obesity. Obesity is a condition where a body accumulates so much extra fat that it has negative health implications. If a person gains 20% more weight than the normal weight range, then he is referred as obese. A simple way to know that a person is obese or not is by calculating its BMI (Body Mass Index). The formula for calculating BMI is-
Body Mass Index (BMI) = Mass (m) / height2 (h2)
Common BMI level ranges from-
Underweight- under 18.5 kg/m2
Normal weight- 18.5 – 25 kg/m2
Over weight- 25 – 30 kg/m2
Obese- over 30 kg/m2
How is obesity caused by improper lifestyle?
Improper diet- Dietary habits of people has always been an important factor in causing obesity. Eating easy to cook food, readymade foods, foods loaded with preservatives and fried foods are the real culprit of making a person obese. You should be careful about your diet and read the nutritional facts of your diet. A little judicious decision on what you eat and when you eat can lead you towards a healthy life. Food high on calorie and sugar leads to obesity. Fried foods are quite rich in fats and gets accumulated in our body. Preserved fruit juices with added sugar, carbonated soft drinks etc. are few examples of high calorie food and we should say a big NO to them.
Lack of physical activity- The sedentary lifestyle which we follow today is the second cause for obesity. Today’s jobs require a person to be confined to its chair and desk and meeting targets on his desktop, which in turn causes little or no movement. Walking and cycling is a forgotten thing as people rely on their cars even for short distance commute. Children avoid playing out as they are so engrossed playing their video games, play station and watching television. Lack of exercise and physical activities leads to obesity.
How can we control lifestyle caused obesity?
Intake of balanced diet- A little mind to what we eat can be a complete solution to your problem. Unnecessary eating, skipping meals, substance abuse are few things that needs a little attention before they lead to alarming levels of obesity. Taking small portions of food in regular interval is good for our health. Fried food, sugar rich drinks should be a strict NO. Foods rich in protein, fibers and low on fat, carbohydrate and sugar should be considered. Water intake should be on higher side to increase bowel movement and avoid unnecessary eating.
Exercise- Physical workout is important to burn the extra stored fat and to liberate excess energy generated by over eating. Regular work outs not only help you get rid of the extra calorie but also keeps you fit, active and energetic. Exercise does not have to be difficult and rigorous. A moderate 30-minute daily workout combined with some physical activity can help get rid of those extra calories. However, it could be tough to squeeze into a schedule, there are some fun-loving exercises such as dancing, swimming and zumba etc.
Physical activity: Physical activity increases people’s total energy expenditure, which can help them stay in energy balance or even lose weight, as long as they don’t eat more to compensate for the extra calories they burn. Physical activity can involve parking your car far away from your workspace, using stairs instead of elevator, bicycling for short distance commute, 10 mins walk-break between your work hours, stretching at your desk and frequent water breaks.
Yoga- Yoga is a wonderful form of movement that improve flexibility, strength and lose weight. Yoga is always touted as a way to “burn fat without breaking a sweat!”. It is known that stress leads to a poor diet. Yoga helps to greatly reduce stress, which not only helps you make better decisions but alsolowers cortisol levels. Cortisol is the stress hormone that causes weight gain. Lowering your cortisol levels help you lose weight naturally. Yoga postures that help in losing weight are surya namaskar or sun salutation, mayurasana or peacock pose, bhujangasana or cobra pose, matasyasana or fish pose, malasana or garland pose etc. These simple and less energy intensive poses can help you get rid of the excess baggage of weight you are carrying.
Obesity should be considered as a disease which makes our health and life sick. It also impacts our life span due to its various side effects. Losing weight requires balanced diet and regular workout. If you have obesity, losing even 5 to 10 percent of your weight can delay or prevent some of these diseases!!
About Author: This is a guest post by Deepti Singh, M. Sc. (Food Microbiology and Toxicology)