Regardless of whether one is just a little overweight, fat, or morbidly obese — losing weight is the one thing that really tops the list of priorities for most people. Every second person you know is on some kind of a ‘losing weight’ programme — either with the help of a control diet or with a combination of diets and exercise. Though most do not need to obsess about their weight, it is the obese who really need to do something about it. Dr Muffazal Lakdawala, bariatric surgeon, recommends some practical tips on how to prevent obesity…
1. Recognise that obesity is a disease. In fact, in the US obesity has reached epidemic proportions; while most epidemics can be defeated with a pill or vaccine, obesity requires people to change the way they eat and live, making it harder to defeat. Obesity is a major risk factor for serious chronic diseases and conditions including Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, gallstones, infertility, varicose veins, gout, osteoarthritis and Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).
2. If you are overweight, take action right now to prevent crossing over into obesity. The first step is to make healthier lifestyle choices in your diet and exercise.
3. Eat healthy. Include fruits, green vegetables, cereals and whole grain foods in your daily diet. Avoid sweets, fried, junk, packaged and refined foods. Eat small meals and chew your food slowly.
4. Set aside at least 30 minutes every day for cardiovascular exercise. You don’t need fancy exercise equipment or an expensive gym membership for this purpose. Walking, jogging, running, cycling and swimming are great for weight loss. It is essential to exercise at least thrice a week.
5. Ignore popular quick-fix weight loss methods unless they are medically supervised. This category includes fad diets, weight loss pills and powders and fat burning machines. Not only do these techniques have serious side effects, some of them have a yo-yo cycle wherein you will regain excess weight just as quickly as you lost it.
6. If you are overweight, don’t socially ostracise yourself even though it may appear that society is pushing you to it. Weight gain has a deep psycho-social impact in these condemnable “size zero figure” times. Depression and stress further aggravate the condition.
7. Become a non-smoker. It’s a myth that smoking induces weight loss. Nicotine suppresses the appetite but its side effects are enormous.
8. Avoid drinking. Most forms of alcohol contain a high percentage of fat. The fat content shoots up thanks to sweetened aerated drinks and greasy, fried foods that alcohol is usually paired with.
9. If diet and exercise fail in obesity prevention, don’t shy away from bariatric surgery. It’s the only medically proven method for sustained weight loss. Unlike liposuction or the tummy tuck, it’s not a cosmetic option either.
10. Reverse the clock. Discouraging as this state of health might be, please remember that you are not a lost cause. Give life a second chance. Depending on which spectrum of weight gain you belong to, there are effective solutions — from lifestyle modifications, diet and exercises to surgery.