Obesity—an excess of fat—contributes to an increased risk for chronic diseases, which are preventable if the root cause is addressed. More than one third of all adults in the Unites States are obese, and the prevalence of obesity in America’s children has tripled in the last 30 years.
“Prevention of childhood obesity begins in the womb with mothers who do not gain excessive weight during pregnancy,” says Quang Nguyen, DO, FACP FACE, Endocrinologist with Carson Tahoe Physicians Clinics in the state of Nevada. “Breastfeeding is recommended because those infants have a reduced risk for obesity as well as fewer health issues. Older children should be encouraged to eat breakfast daily, eat dinner with the family most days of the week, eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily, engage in at least one hour of physical activity each day, an limit screen time to two hours daily.”
Challenges to Our Health
Researchers continue to examine the factors that contribute to obesity, but the crux of the problem is an imbalance in the consumption and usage of calories that can result in fat storage. According to the public health program The Weight of the Nation, a number of trends have contributed to the alarming increase in overweight and obese people:
- Added fats and sugars in the food supply
- Chees consumption
- Living in the suburbs
- Meat consumption
- Television viewing
Ripe For Change
While our modern lifestyle contributes to the prevalence of obesity, the best approach to reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is to exercise most days of the week and reduce overall calories consumed. Despite this, many people try adding exercise without changing their diet, trying the latest diet fad, or using medication to lose weight. “In recent trials, the combination of diet and exercise was more effective than medication in preventing the onset of Type 2 diabetes,” says Carol Cheney, MD, FACP, Endocrinologist with Carson Tahoe Physician Clinics. “It’s an issue of lifestyle changes, not just a diet — learning to eat better and being active every day.”
A Lifelong Journey Begins With One Step
Healthcare providers can offer the answers you need to lose weight in a health way. Calculating your body mass index (BMI) can be a helpful starting point.
Divide your weight by your height squared and multiply the result by 703, or let the online BMI calculator from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute do the math for you. It can be found at www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi. The resulting number will score in the following ranges:
- Less than 18.5 — Underweight
- 18.5-24.9 — Healthy Weight
- 25-29.9 — Overweight
- 30.0 and greater — Obese
“Because obesity is a multifactorial disease that is often lifelong, it is best to set realistic goals and maintain a steady pace,” say Dr. Nguyen. “Weight-loss medications should only be used as adjuncts to a sound diet and exercise regimen. Ask your healthcare provider if the diet and exercise changes you are considering can be maintained for life. If not, then they may not be the right solution for you.”
Foods to Fuel Weight Loss
Set your plate for success by including these foods that contribute to a reduced risk for diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
- Avocado — This heart-healthy source of “good” fats is full of vitamins and low in calories. Use it to boost heartiness in salads and sandwiches or substitute for shortening in banana bread.
- Beans — An excellent source of protein and a carbohydrate that digests slowly, beans will help you feel full longer. At about 110 calories, one cup offers 8 grams of fiber with no cholesterol and less fat than meat.
- Quinoa — Few grains can compare to the nutrient density of this super food that offers protein, calcium, antioxidants, and healthy fats. Preliminary research credits quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”) with anti-inflammatory and cholesterol-lowering properties good for better heart health.
- Red Pepper Flakes — Adding flavor without the fat, red pepper flakes are on way to spice up low-fat entrees and healthy sides.
- Water — Drinking water throughout the day instead of high-calorie consumption, raise your metabolism, and promote weight loss. For example, if you regularly drink a 20-ounce soda at lunch and dinner, skip it. You could lose approximately one pound per week.