Weight Control: What Works & Why

The Philippine Star, October 20, 2014 issue, reported that according to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the Philippines and India are among the developing countries with high levels of obesity and under-nutrition.

Obesity, a new form of malnutrition, has surfaced as an urgent challenge affecting several countries. Obesity, as a form of malnutrition often coexists with under-nutrition and results have shifted from local and traditional diets to foods that are increasingly heavy in salt, sugar and fat particularly from processed foods.

The global prevalence of combined overweight and obesity has risen in all regions, increasing among adults from 24 percent to 34 percent between 1980 and 2008. Three out of 10 Filipino adults, 20 years old and above are either overweight or obese (GMA News Online, Oct. 21, 2014). In addition to this, according to the Philippine Star, June 26, 2015 issue, the prevalence of overweight children aged 5-10 has increased from 5.8 percent in 2003 to 9.1 percent in 2013. The 2011 Global School-based Health Survey, meanwhile, showed that about 13 percent of adolescents in the Philippines are overweight and obese. Binge eating and not being active enough is the cause of most obesity. But our approach to this health predicament may also be part of the problem. We tend to concentrate on losing pounds to improve appearance, when the primary focus of weight management is to achieve and maintain health not to immediately get rid of those unsightly bellies and body fats.

If you’re not overweight, losing weight offers no benefits, and may even be detrimental. On the other hand, if you’re overweight, shedding pounds often results in reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and other lifestyle diseases.

The human body has 30-40 billion fat cells. Each is like a collapsible, thin-walled tank. If you eat calories that you don’t need for immediate energy, most of the extras go into these cells and are stored as fat.

Furthermore, even moderate overweight can be a constant burden on the person’s back and legs. This can eventually aggravate conditions such as degenerative arthritis (osteoarthritis), delayed wound healing (surgery), infections, etc. Obesity, on the outset, has direct links to serious diseases that can shorten life span such as resistance to insulin, which is the leading cause of Type 2 diabetes or non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus.

The liver also makes more triglycerides and less HDL (“good cholesterol”), making an overweight and obese individuals to be vulnerable to cardiovascular disease, including coronary artery disease and stroke, as well as high blood pressure.

Losing weight cannot be achieved overnight. For one who wants to lose extra pounds, strong determination and discipline are a must. Here are some of the tips:

– Make a commitment to lose weight because you want to, not to please someone else.

– Get your priorities straight – don’t set up yourself for failure by trying to improve your lifestyle if you are distracted by other major problems.

-Set a realistic goal – try to achieve a comfortable weight you maintained easily as a young adult; accept a healthy weight lose that is slow and steady; aim to lose 1-2 lbs. a week (for women); 2-3 lbs. (for men).

-Learn to enjoy more healthy foods – eat nutrient-rich foods (whole grains, fruits, vegetables); cutting on calories.

-Get and stay active through steady aerobic exercise (walking) for at least 40 minutes.

-Changing your lifestyle– incorporate these healthy lifestyle behaviors into your life, including eating habits, shopping, and cooking techniques. By gradually changing your habits and attitudes, you could achieve success. (Mayo Clinic, 2007; 2014)

Glenn M. Maypa, DrPH, is the health ministries director of Central Philippine Union Conference.

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