According to the World Health Organization, out of the world's seven billion people, one billion are overweight. North America has the highest percentage of people who are obese. Approximately 65 million adult Americans are now obese. The percentage of children who are obese is rising at an alarming rate. Obesity is now regarded as the major cause of death in the United States.
Health risks associated with obesity are: varicose veins, hypertension, high cholesterol, atherosclerosis, deep vein thrombosis, vascular disease, heartburn, fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes, pancreatitis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, low back pain, joint disease, stroke, dementia, depression, infertility, menstrual abnormalities, pregnancy abnormalities, asthma, cellulites, fungal skin infections, cancers, poor healing of wounds and infections.
The biggest contributor to the rising obesity rates is the rise in popularity of fast food, soft drinks and other food and beverages laden with high fructose corn syrup. The bottom line is that obesity is principally caused by eating more calories than are utilized by the body.
Here are the steps to fight obesity:
Oxygen, food, and water are the three principal things that we need to remain alive. We don't think much about oxygen until we hold our breath and experience an overwhelming desire to breathe again. Likewise, if we are deprived of food, the body has powerful mechanisms to keep us interested in food and seeking after nourishment. All of us eat when we sense an inner need for food. We tend to eat until we sense a feeling of fullness.
People of normal weight don't tend to experience frequent and unhealthy food cravings, and they usually feel hungry at appropriate times. They are also inclined to feel satisfied when they have eaten modest sized food portions that don't promote weight gain. Unfortunately, in overweight and obese individuals, controlling appetite is different. As a result, they possess an increased appetite drive along with frequent and excessive food cravings.
If you want to get your weight under control and remain at an ideal weight for life, you must get this unhealthy appetite control system restored to a healthy state where you are free from excessive food cravings and an appetite in overdrive.
The symptoms and signs common for blood sugar changes are: difficult to lose weight; sweets craving; feeling better after eating food; irritable if missing a meal; feeling a bit spacey and disconnected; elevated blood sugar; get anxious for no apparent reason; waking up often during the night; feel hungry all of the time; often get sleepy in the afternoon.
Blood sugar instability is a major factor for the increased appetite and frequent food cravings so typical of individuals who are struggling with their weight.
Low carb and no carb diets can produce quick and dramatic results, but they most often lead to rebound weight gain. Rapid and deep drops in blood sugar are particularly associated with very strong and in some case irresistible urge to eat.
The body works hard to keep blood sugar normal as insulin resistance develops by releasing higher than normal amounts of insulin. The key steps to stabilize blood sugar are:
- Choose food that has a lower impact on blood sugar. Every food affects blood sugar differently. You must become familiar with how foods affect your sugar. The key is to choose carbohydrates wisely and to consume modest portion sizes. To make healthier food choices, here are a few guidelines:
- Read labels carefully. If sugar, flour, fat, or salt are among the first three ingredients listed, it is not probably a good option.
- Be aware that words appearing on the label, such as sucrose, glucose, maltose, lactose, corn syrup, means that sugar has been added.
- Look for number of grams of fat. For every five grams of fat in serving, you are eating the equivalent of one teaspoon of fat.
- Increase your intake of dietary fiber. Eating high fiber foods in abundance reduces hunger. Here are some good suggestions: eat fresh vegetables and fruits for snacks; eat only whole grains.
- Make a commitment to regular exercise. Moderate exercise helps to stabilize the appetite, normalize blood sugar levels and increase muscle mass.
The primary factor that will determine whether you are successful at losing weight is how ready you are for change. In order to experience positive changes, you must adopt the fallowing habits:
- Reduce portion sizes for higher calorie foods while increasing portion sizes of low-calorie foods. Portion control can take some time to master, but it is a skill that is completely necessary for long-term weight control.
- Take your time when eating. Most people with weight problems eat quicker and swallow significantly more food in the same period of time as people with normal weight. One of the simplest and most effective strategies for losing weight is to practice eating slowly.
- Plan what you are going to eat. Eating on the run and grabbing food on impulse promotes wrong food choices that can easily pack on extra calories. Well planned meals don't need to take a lot of time. If you plan properly, you will always have plenty of healthy foods that can be eaten in an instant and or prepared in seconds.
If you have a weight problem, you probably have certain habits that work against your desire to achieve and maintain an ideal body weight. Perhaps bad eating habits are the primary reason why you fail in your weight loss efforts or why you gain weight back after successfully losing weight. To overcome bad eating habits, you need to increase awareness of the bad habits.
One of the consequences of the stress response is abdominal fat cell growth and loss of muscle mass, which leads to insulin resistance and obesity. The adrenal hormone cortisol released as a result of the stress response is ultimately responsible for the fact that stress promotes weight gain because it promotes insulin resistance and raises blood sugar levels.
Every day stress is a normal part of modern living. However, if stress is extreme, unusual, or long lasting, the stress response can be overwhelming and quite harmful.
Conditions linked to stress: angina, asthma, cancer, cardiovascular disease, colds, depression, diabetes, headaches, high blood pressure, lowered immunity, obesity, arthritis, etc.
To manage stress, calm the mind and the body; include physical exercise in your lifestyle; get a good night sleep.
Regular physical exercise is obviously a major key to good health. The ability to lose weight with exercise is a direct reflection of a person's muscle mass. The more muscle mass that you have, the more fat you burn.
In both men and women, muscle mass increases throughout adolescence and peaks during the late teens through the mid to late 20s. After that, muscle mass declines slowly but quite relentlessly, in most people. Unless muscles are specifically exercised through weight training, we lose about one percent of our lean muscle mass every year until we are 50.
The most important step to prevent muscle loss is to follow a regular strength training program by lifting weights or engaging in resistance exercises. The benefits of strength training are amazing. In additions to helping burn more fat, a larger muscle mass is associated with a healthier heart, improved joint function, relief from arthritis pain, better antioxidant protection and higher self-esteem.
Physical inactivity is a major reason why so many Americans are overweight. If you are trying to lose weight, you definitely need to exercise as well. When exercise is included in a weight-loss program, there is usually an improvement in body composition due to a gain in lean body weight because of an increase in muscle mass and an accompanying decrease in body fat.
Moderate to intense exercise may have an appetite suppressant effect. Individuals who exercise during and after weight reduction are better able to maintain the weight loss than those who do not exercise.
Exercise helps diminish anxiety and reduces depressions which are the two major factors that drive people to the refrigerator in their search to find a sense of comfort.
The benefits of regular exercise:
- Increases muscle strength and muscle mass
- Increases flexibility of muscles and range of joint motion
- Produces stronger bones, ligaments, and tendons
- Lessens chance of injury
- Enhances posture, and physique
- Prevents osteoporosis
- Lowers resting heart rate
- Strengthens heart function
- Lowers blood pressure
- Improves oxygen delivery throughout the body
- Increases blood supply to muscles
- Enlarges the arteries that provide blood to the heart muscle
- Reduces the risk of coronary heart disease
- Helps lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- Improves immune function
- Aids digestion and elimination
- Increases endurance and energy levels
- Increases insulin sensitivity
- Promotes lean body mass; burns fat
- Improves sexual function in both men and women
- Helps reduce tension and anxiety
- Improves mental outlook and self-esteem
- Helps relieve moderate depression
- Improves the ability to handle stress
- Stimulates improved mental function
- Induces relaxation and improves sleep