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Understanding Obesity and How to Reverse It

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3 Minutes

Did you know that obesity affects 25% of adults and 20% of children in the UK? This guide will talk about obesity --- what it is, how you get obese, and how you can reverse it.

What is obesity?

Obesity is a condition used to describe a person who is more than overweight. One of the most common ways to tell if you are obese or not is by a measurement called Body Mass Index or BMI. BMI determines whether or not your weight is healthy for your height.

BMI What It Means
Below 18.5 Underweight
18.5 - 24.9 Healthy weight (relative to your height)
25 - 29.9 Overweight
30 - 39.9 Obese
40+ Severely obese

Note: the measurements above are for an average adult.

Is BMI enough? No. BMI is not enough to know for sure whether you are obese or not because some people can have higher BMI without the fat (e.g., people who go to the gym to build muscles). Another way to measure obesity is through your waistline. Men who have waistlines of 80 cm or more are more likely to be obese. The same is true for women with a waist size of over 94 cm.

What are the causes of obesity?

The causes of obesity include a lot of factors, like hormonal imbalance, metabolic issues, genetics, and underlying illnesses such as hypothyroidism. However, for most people, obesity is caused by lifestyle problems. Let's look at it this way:

Your body needs energy (calories) to function properly. This is called your basal metabolic rate and your daily goal will depend on several factors like sex and age. The total calories you need each day will be your basal metabolic rate + the calories you burn doing your daily activities.

If you eat more than what your body needs, the excess calories will be stored as fat, showing up on the scale over time.

Is obesity dangerous?

You can avoid several illnesses if you stay within your healthy weight range. People who are obese experience problems like:

  • Snoring
  • Back pain
  • Joint pain
  • Getting tired easily
  • Breathlessness
  • Low confidence
  • Increased sweating

If untreated, obesity can lead to serious problems like:

  • High blood pressure
  • Asthma
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Gallstones
  • Infertility
  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Sleep apnea

Studies show that obesity can lower an average person's life expectancy by as much as 10 years.

How to reverse obesity

Estimates show that 1 in every 13 mortalities in Europe is caused by obesity-related diseases. Fortunately, obesity can be reversed. Below are some tips on how to reverse obesity.

Changing your diet

One of the best ways to reverse obesity is to change your diet. You can do this by:

  • Cutting your calorie intake – if you want to lose weight, you have to put yourself in a calorie deficit. To do this, evaluate your eating habits and determine how many calories you are consuming each day. Once you know this number, use a calorie deficit calculator to work out how much you need to cut back on.
  • Make healthier food choices – sweets, soda and processed foods contain large amounts of calories. Try to substitute these by eating fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain foods. Plant-based proteins like soy and beans are also great. Limit your salt intake too. Lastly, eat small amounts of healthy fats from nuts, olives, and canola. Try to include fish in your diet as well.

Increase your physical activity

Increasing your physical activity is a good way to burn off those excess calories. Here's how to do it:

  • Move often – any extra movements can do wonders. Simple changes that get you moving such as parking farther from the store entrance, moving around, gardening, and doing household chores can help burn extra calories.
  • Exercise regularly – if you are obese, you will need at least 150 minutes of moderate to intense exercise every week to prevent further weight gain. For significant weight loss, you'll need at least 300 minutes of exercise a week. If exercising is hard, try walking 10,000 steps a day.

Changing your behaviour

There are behaviour modification programs that can help you make the necessary lifestyle changes for weight loss. These include:

  • Support groups – you can always find support and encouragement from people who are experiencing the same challenges as you. Talk to your doctor to see if there are any local support groups around that you can join.
  • Counselling – weight loss begins in the mind. A mental health professional can help you determine and address the underlying emotional and mental issues that are behind your overeating habits. Depending on your preference, counselling can be one-on-one or by a group. Choose more intensive programs that include between 12 to 26 sessions a year for best results.

Take weight loss medications

Another great way to lose weight is by taking weight loss tablets. Express Pharmacy stocks high-quality weight loss medications like Xenical, Saxenda, and Mysimba that you can order online today. Most weight loss tablets work by making it hard for your body to absorb fat. Others also make you feel full sooner --- eliminating the urge to eat more than what you need.