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Using Healthy Nutrition To Deal With Obesity

If you start consuming more calories than your body actually burns, then you’re at a high risk of getting obese. The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to increased obesity rates because an increased population in the UK is going towards processed foods. Canned foods and processed foods with extended shelf life have been more used by people in the COVID-19 outbreak. Prolonged use of high-calorie foods and lifestyle patterns are the leading causes of obesity. 

Healthy nutrition is an important factor for keeping your weight in check. Maintaining an ideal weight doesn’t mean you have to avoid foods; it means that you have to keep everything within a limit. Replacing fresh veggies and fruits with processed foods can be very helpful in shedding pounds. 

Everything in this modern world, from advanced networks to better technology, is taking a step ahead, but we are still one step behind all this progress in terms of health. Modern and sedentary lifestyles have made us more susceptible to various medical conditions and a host of diseases. One such rampant medical concern is obesity that is worsening with every passing year. Let’s have a look at what obesity is, its causes, and healthy nutrition to tackle it. 

What Is Obesity?  

Excessive or abnormal accumulation of fat due to unhealthy lifestyle and eating habits is called obesity. People with a BMI of more than 25 are considered obese. When you start eating more “bad” fat than “good” fat, you become more susceptible to various health complications like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, certain types of cancer, dementia, and stroke. (1)

Obesity causes many health complications due to which around 2.8 million die across the globe. According to the National Health Service (NHS), 1 out of 5 adults is obese in the UK. 

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a method of checking whether you’re obese or not. BMI is the ratio of your height and weight. However, you cannot diagnose obesity with your BMI because athletes and people with strong muscles often have high BMI without any fat accumulation. 

If you want to check whether you have a healthy weight or not, BMI can help. 

  • You have a healthy weight if your BMI is 18 to 25.
  • BMI of 25 to 29.5 indicates you’re overweight. 
  • Obesity indicates a BMI of 30 to 40. 
  • If you’re severely obese, you’ll have a BMI of 42 or above. (2)

Causes of Obesity:

There are a variety of reasons, which can trigger obesity. Excessive accumulation of fat can also result due to preexisting conditions in the body. Talking about obesity in COVID-19 outbreak, obesity is due to a sedentary lifestyle and poor dietary choices. 

Here are some of the few causes that could lead to obesity:

  1. Food Addiction: Appeasing the temptations and constant cravings for food put you at a greater risk of obesity. If you have no control over your eating behavior or you feel a sense of pleasure after eating sugary and greasy food, you’re gaining weight. Moreover, if you have easy access to food outlets and cafes and you’re just one call away from your favorite pizzas and burgers, then you cannot keep your obesity at bay. (3)
  2. Junk Food: Sugary drinks, unhealthy fats, aerated sodas, crispy fries, and tall greasy burgers have become more common in the pandemic. This unhealthy western diet has not only increased the risk of obesity but can also elevate your blood sugar levels. 
  3. Hormonal Issues: One hormone that is the leading cause of obesity is the leptin hormone produced by fat cells. Hypothalamus in your brain receives special signals from the leptin hormone that we are full and need to stop eating. Obese people have very high levels of obesity because leptin becomes unavailable to cross the blood-brain barrier. (4)
  4. Genetics: If you have obese parents, you are more likely to get obese because family history/genetics play an important role. Which genes should be expressed and which should not greatly depend on what you eat. For example, when non-industrialized people eat a western diet, the environment and diet send signals to the genes to change. 

Healthy Nutrition to Tackle Obesity: 

Obese people really want to maintain a healthy weight by adopting some healthy eating habits. Here some of the following nutritional tips for tackling obesity:

  1. Avoid Processed Foods: Boxed snack foods and white bread add up extra weight to your body. Avoided processed foods and those with refined sugar can be helpful in shedding pounds. 

    According to a study, a highly processed diet caused weight gain more than a minimally processed diet consumed by participants. (5)

    Another study reported that obesity is linked with ultra-processed foods because such foods encourage overeating. (6)
  2. Consume “Good” Fat: A low-fat diet is linked with a reduced risk of heart disease and cholesterol levels. According to a study of 2017, reduced risk of obesity and cholesterol levels was associated with the consumption of polyunsaturated fats. (7)

  3. Focus On Low Glycemic Index Foods: Some foods have a low glycemic index, and some foods have a high glycemic index. It means how quickly your blood sugar levels are raised when you eat food. When your blood sugar levels are steady, your healthy weight is maintained. Therefore, try to eat foods with a low glycemic index. Foods with a low glycemic index include beans, lentils, bread, porridge, yogurt, honey, and orange juice, etc. 

  4. Eat Plenty of Dietary Fiber: Dietary fibers and whole grains are packed with essential nutrients, which are digested slowly. Slow digestion keeps you full for a long time. Whole grains include wheat, barley, brown rice, etc.

    One study reported that people who consumed fiber supplements for 12 weeks shed 5% of their total body weight. (8)

  5. Incorporate more Plant-Based Foods: Plant based foods will not only reduce the risk of obesity but will also improve your overall health. It is recommended that you should eat six to nine servings of fruits and veggies per day. Consumption of vegetables and fruits sends signals to the brain that you have eaten a significant amount.

  6. Avoid Sugar-Sweetened Beverages: Both diabetes and obesity are linked with sweetened beverages. Many studies report increased calorie intake and weight gain with soft drink intake. According to a study, a 0.08 unit increase in the body mass index has been seen with the consumption of 12 ounces of sugary beverages. (9)

    These rapidly digested carbohydrate beverages contain more than 200 calories. Studies have suggested that you can now lose weight by reducing the intake of sugary beverages. 

  7. Consume More Proteins: High-protein foods are low in fat and carbohydrates. Therefore, more benefits are associated with the consumption of high proteins. A high protein diet is useful because of its greater thermic effect, improved body composition, and more satiety.

    Your blood lipid profiles are highly improved with high-protein consumption, reducing the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Poultry, beans, nuts, and fish are low in fats and high in proteins, reducing the risk of health complications by shedding extra pounds.

  8. Dietary Supplements: Some dietary supplements can also help people lose weight. These supplements include bitter orange extract, green tea extracts, Chinese herbs, fish oils, omega 3s, and chitosan.

Fruit Juice and Obesity:

Many people have a misconception that fruit juices contain more calories than sweetened beverages, but this is not true. Fruit juices contain as high calories as beverages; although they are enriched with natural sugars, they have high calories and sugar content. It was revealed in a long-term research study of 1,200,000 participants that weight gain was associated with those participants who increased their intake of fresh fruit juice compared to those who didn’t. It is therefore recommended to drink one small glass of fresh juices for children and adults. (10)

Why Does Prevention Matter?

Healthy life choices can have a considerable effect on your body. Obesity carries many complications. You can have serious health complications and day-to-day problems. Obesity increases the chances of:

  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Osteoarthritis - stiffness, and pain in joints
  • Kidney and liver disease
  • Complications in pregnancy like preeclampsia or gestational diabetes
  • Sleep apnea
  • Metabolic syndrome

Obesity also causes difficulties with daily activities, such as:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Less self-confidence
  • Feeling isolated
  • Difficulty physical activity
  • Breathlessness
  • Snoring
  • Feeling very tired
  • Increased sweating
  • Lower back pain

Don’t Forget to Exercise:

If you’re obese and want to lose weight more quickly, incorporate exercise into your routine. Physical activity is very important for remaining active, losing weight, and improving the quality of life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should engage in 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise or 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week to maintain your weight. 

According to a research study, individuals have lower body mass index or lower weight and lower waist circumference who walk at a fast pace than those who do not walk. (11)

Physical inactivity and poor dietary choices are the two major contributors to obesity in the UK. Adapting healthy nutrition can help you lose weight and maintain optimal health. 

References:

  1. Obesity Diet: What To Eat And Avoid To Manage Obesity [Internet]. NDTV Food. [cited 2021 Apr 12]. Available from: https://food.ndtv.com/food-drinks/obesity-diet-what-to-eat-and-avoid-to-manage-obesity-1815463
  2. Obesity [Internet]. nhs.uk. 2017 [cited 2021 Apr 12]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/obesity/
  3. Avena NM, Rada P, Hoebel BG. Evidence for sugar addiction: Behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2008;32(1):20–39.
  4. Sáinz N, Barrenetxe J, Moreno-Aliaga MJ, Martínez JA. Leptin resistance and diet-induced obesity: central and peripheral actions of leptin. Metabolism. 2015 Jan;64(1):35–46.
  5. Ultra-Processed Diets Cause Excess Calorie Intake and Weight Gain: An Inpatient Randomized Controlled Trial of Ad Libitum Food Intake: Cell Metabolism [Internet]. [cited 2021 Apr 12]. Available from: https://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/fulltext/S1550-4131(19)30248-7
  6. Mendonça R de D, Pimenta AM, Gea A, de la Fuente-Arrillaga C, Martinez-Gonzalez MA, Lopes ACS, et al. Ultraprocessed food consumption and risk of overweight and obesity: the University of Navarra Follow-Up (SUN) cohort study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Nov 1;104(5):1433–40.
  7. Liu AG, Ford NA, Hu FB, Zelman KM, Mozaffarian D, Kris-Etherton PM. A healthy approach to dietary fats: understanding the science and taking action to reduce consumer confusion. Nutr J [Internet]. 2017 Aug 30 [cited 2021 Apr 12];16. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5577766/
  8. Grube B, Chong P-W, Lau K-Z, Orzechowski H-D. A Natural Fiber Complex Reduces Body Weight in the Overweight and Obese: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study. Obes Silver Spring Md. 2013 Jan;21(1):58–64.
  9. Sugar-sweetened beverages and BMI in children and adolescents: reanalyses of a meta-analysis | The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition | Oxford Academic [Internet]. [cited 2021 Apr 12]. Available from: https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/89/1/438/4598275?login=true
  10. Boston 677 Huntington Avenue, Ma 02115 +1495‑1000. Food and Diet [Internet]. Obesity Prevention Source. 2012 [cited 2021 Apr 12]. Available from: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-causes/diet-and-weight/
  11. Do All Activities “Weigh” Equally? How Different Physical Activities Differ as Predictors of Weight - Lordan - 2015 - Risk Analysis - Wiley Online Library [Internet]. [cited 2021 Apr 12]. Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/risa.12417