Obesity factors directly relate to a person’s risk for insulin resistance, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
A marker of good health has ideal blood glucose levels. Glucose is an essential fuel for the cells in the body when it’s at normal levels.
It is clear from the scientific evidence that physical activity is a necessary lifestyle behavior that will prevent weight gain and contribute to the prevention of obesity in adults. Physical Activity for overweight and obese adults to improve health; however, 200-300 min per week is ideal for long-term weight loss.
There has been growing evidence about how sleep loss and sleep disorders cause disparities in metabolism.
Nutritional change with a Low-fat diet, particularly saturated fat choices, Increase whole grain high fiber carbohydrates, Increase fruit and vegetables, and Consider portion sizes.
Obesity management = weight loss + weight maintenance + risk reduction
What is obesity?
Obesity is a chronic relapsing disease, defined by The World Health Organisation (WHO) as an ‘abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a health risk’ and has a wide range of drivers, including genetics, biology, and environmental factors. Yet, too often, obesity is misunderstood and characterized as a lifestyle condition people can solve if they eat less and move more, a message which undermines the complexity of the disease and overstates the impact of exercise.
Why is managing obesity significant?
Obesity causes or exacerbates many health problems independently and is associated with other diseases. In particular, it is related to the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus, coronary heart disease, an increased incidence of certain forms of cancer, obstructive sleep apnoea, and osteoarthritis of large and small joints. In the Framingham Heart Study, the risk of death within 26 years increased by 1% for each extra pound (0.45 kg) increase in weight between the ages of 30 and 42 years and by 2% between the ages of 50 and 62 years.
Causes of obesity
Eating more calories than you burn in daily activity and exercise — on a long-term basis — can lead to obesity. Over time, these extra calories add up and cause weight gain. But it’s not always just about calories in and calories out or having a sedentary lifestyle. At the same time, those are indeed causes of obesity, and some causes you can’t control.
Common specific causes of obesity include:
- Genetics can affect how your body processes food into energy and how fat is stored.
- Aging can lead to less muscle mass and a slower metabolic rate, making it easier to gain weight.
- Not sleeping enough can lead to hormonal changes that make you feel hungrier and crave certain high-calorie foods.
- Pregnancy as weight gain during pregnancy may be challenging to lose and might eventually lead to obesity.
Certain health conditions can also lead to weight gain, which may lead to obesity. These include:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that causes an imbalance of female reproductive hormones.
- Cushing syndrome occurs by high cortisol levels (the stress hormone).
- Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) is a condition in which the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough of certain essential hormones.
- Osteoarthritis (OA) and other conditions that cause pain may lead to reduced activity.
Obesity a Silent Epidemic
How to improve your Metabolic health?
There are various ways in which you may optimize and improve your metabolic health:
One of the markers of good metabolic health is having ideal blood glucose levels. Glucose is an essential fuel for cells in the body when present at normal levels. When blood glucose levels are high, they cause disruptions in the body. When high levels occur, your body isn’t making enough insulin or using insulin.
You can keep your blood glucose levels at an optimum range in several ways. An excellent first step is understanding where your blood glucose levels stand. Glucose monitoring can give you great insights, such as glucose variability representing fuel quality and oxidative stress on your body. Keeping your blood glucose variability under 12% is considered an ideal range.
Consuming low glycemic index foods are known to keep blood sugar levels low or reduce blood sugar levels. Glycemic Index (GI) measures how the body absorbs or digests foods, affecting the rate at which blood glucose levels rise.
The importance of sleep is widely studied. Recent findings suggest that sleep plays a housekeeping role, removing toxins in your brain that build up while you are awake. Getting poor sleep may disrupt critical biochemical processes in the body. Sleep disorders are a growing problem, impacting public health tremendously.
There has been growing evidence about how sleep loss and sleep disorders cause disparities in metabolism. Lab studies have shown that sleep deprivation can alter glucose metabolism and hormones involved in regulating metabolism. Specifically, it can lead to decreased levels of leptin, a hormone that inhibits hunger and regulates energy balance, and increased levels of ghrelin. This hormone increases appetite, also called the hunger hormone.
Low-intensity physical activity may help in improving overall health. According to research published in BMJ, which took 36,000 individuals’ movements and measured their intensity of physical activity, data suggests all physical activity, even low power, counts. Low-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking, may have beneficial effects.
To address physical inactivity levels, the WHO published guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behavior (2020), which provide global recommendations on the amount of physical activity required for different age and population groups. Most age groups need at least 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical exercise throughout the week to help maintain a healthy body weight.
Intense exercise is also known to improve metabolic health, but overexercising generally translates into prioritizing performance over longevity. A regular exercise regime can improve metabolic health in a few weeks.
Research in mice and humans has suggested intense exercise boosts communication between skeletal muscles and fat tissue. This helps in fine-tuning metabolism, improving performance, and reducing the prevalence of obesity.
Stress has links with various metabolic processes, in specific the hormone called cortisol. According to a paper published in Science Direct, the stress response helps dispatch energy stores to respond to a threatening stimulus. An observation of the response has shown the diversity of metabolic changes that can occur due to stress.
On the one hand, acute intense stress correlates with feeding suppression and weight gain reduction. On the other hand, chronic stress can lead to overeating, increased visceral adiposity, and weight gain.
Over time with chronic stress and chronically elevated glucose levels, the pancreas (which produces insulin to bring down glucose levels in the blood) loses the ability to respond to a high glucose stimulus, causing a reduction in the activity of insulin.
Current Evidence on Dietary Patterns for Weight Loss: An evidence-based report from the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines and The Obesity Society supports several energy-restricted dietary approaches for weight loss that focus on the macronutrients, including low-fat, lower-carbohydrate, moderate- and higher-protein, and macronutrient-targeted diets.
A study observed the Relationship between Dietary Patterns and Metabolic Health in a Representative Sample of Adult Australians. It identified that 20% of Australian adults aged ≥ 45 years were metabolically unhealthy. It consists of higher consumption of an unhealthy diet through refined and processed foods, associated with a decreased likelihood of having a healthy metabolic profile. While the reverse was true for healthy diets, i.e., increased chance of having a nutritional, metabolic profile.
Foods that could help improve your metabolic health include:
- Fiber-rich foods include fresh fruit, vegetables, oats, barley, etc.
- Potassium-rich foods help balance blood pressure, such as bananas, lentils, black beans, etc.
- Foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids, such as flax seeds, almonds, tuna, etc.
- Avoiding high levels of sugary food, transfats, and sodium is also essential.
Behavioral approaches aim to help subjects to implement and sustain changes to their eating and activity behavior and require trained health professionals with good interpersonal skills to use the system appropriately. Typical strategies include self-monitoring, realistic goal setting, stimulus control, problem-solving, relapse prevention, and stress management. There is strong evidence that combining a behavioral approach with more traditional dietary and activity advice leads to improved short-term weight loss and is currently the most effective lifestyle approach to managing weight.
Obesity is a disorder involving excessive body fat that increases the risk of health problems. Obesity often results from taking in more calories than are burned by exercise and normal daily activities. It occurs when a person’s body mass index is 30 or greater. Excessive body fat increases the risk of severe health problems.
The mainstay of treatment is lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise. Metabolic phenotypes such as fat mass, BMI, body fat distribution & adipose tissue function can help to determine obesity. While each provides significant insights into the body, it is essential to note that some may not give a partial picture. Various ways can help you manage obesity. These include glucose control, good sleep quality, well-balanced nutrition, low to intense physical exercise, and managing stress. These factors may help improve or maintain ideal blood sugar levels, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, blood pressure, and waist circumference for good overall metabolic health and obesity management.
The contents of this article are for general information and educational purposes only. It neither provides any medical advice nor intends to substitute professional medical opinion on treating, diagnosing, preventing, or alleviating any disease, disorder, or disability. Always consult your doctor or qualified healthcare professional about your health condition and concerns before undertaking a new healthcare regimen, including making any dietary or lifestyle changes.
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