Obesity: A Health Crisis that Can Be Reversed

The American Heart Association says obesity in the United States is an epidemic. And with nearly 91 million adults and children with a body mass index of 30 percent or more, it’s an epidemic that we need to fight now.

Despite easy access to statistics, data, and nutritional information, Western society tends to gravitate toward big meals, red meats, unhealthy fats, and sugar-laden drinks, so fighting the obesity epidemic won’t be easy. But, individuals can take up arms against their own weight by finding an enjoyable workout, getting plenty of sleep, making nutrition a priority, and addressing emotional issues that may have triggered an unhealthy lifestyle.

Weight loss simplified

Calories in, calories out. That’s about the easiest way to explain weight loss. But it’s more complex than that. Losing weight isn’t simply about the number of calories a person consumes each day. These calories must also be usable by the body. Empty calories, those derived from sugar and trans fats found in most junk food, don’t actually fuel the body, but rather contribute significantly to weight gain.

People wishing to trim the numbers on the scale should start by switching out less-than-healthy choices for healthier ones at the dinner table. This might include indulging in dessert night once a week instead of opting for something sweet every day. Jenny Craig explains that most people should take steps to ensure that no more than 10 percent of their total caloric intake each day comes from empty calorie foods. A good rule of thumb is that if it comes out of a box or bag, it won’t contribute to weight loss efforts. But, if it can be grown in the garden or swims in the sea, it likely contains a high value of nutrients the body can put to work when it’s time to start your exercise routine.

Fitness and fun

Most people don’t associate going to the gym with leisure activities. However, an enjoyable fitness routine checks both of these boxes. Reader’s Digest asserts that exercising when you’re obese is difficult, but the magazine recommends taking a beginner class, such as Yoga, or hiring a personal trainer who can help you create an attainable and enjoyable fitness routine. Depending on where you live, you may also consider an evening walk on the beach or through a nearby nature trail. Playing with the kids, gardening, and swimming are other ideas to combine fun and fitness.

Finding an enjoyable fitness routine and eating well is only half the battle. Those with extreme obesity may also need to address underlying mental health conditions or past traumatic events that triggered weight gain. This may be divorce, depression, or emotional scars left from childhood. A therapist or counselor may be able to help. Finally, whole-body health includes sleeping at least seven hours each night, engaging in social activities with friends and family, and prioritizing well-being over personal or professional obligations.

One great tip is to increase your muscle mass. Even a small increase in muscle mass increases your bodies calorie burning.  Once you achieve the increased muscle, this muscle will continue to burn calories, even when you are asleep!

The last resort

Bariatric surgery is an option for people whose weight endangers their life. It is an extreme medical procedure that uses surgical means to physically block the amount of food a person can consume. The procedure involves clamping or removing part of the stomach or bypassing the majority of the digestive tract altogether. It’s a lengthy procedure, typically up to six hours, that may require up to three days of post-surgical inpatient care. Quonomedical offers more information in this Bariatric Surgery Guide.

While surgery may help the extremely obese, most people, barring undiagnosed thyroid or other health condition, can manage their weight through a combination of healthy habits that include proper nutrition and exercise. While success won’t happen overnight, it’s an attainable goal that can be reached with patience and diligence and consistency.

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