In the era of Internet, news and trends spread faster across the globe than they did several years ago. It is, therefore, not surprising to see Kenyans adopting foreign trends, almost as soon as they take off. Among the most followed developments are the emerging international weight loss techniques.
Fad diets, diet pills and surgical procedures like liposuction, tummy tucks, mosetherapy (fat dissolving injectables), and coolsculpting (a non-evasive method of freezing fat) are popularly being adopted by Kenyans. But experts are worried by the increasing uptake of the “quick fix” weight loss strategies and procedures, most of which they say provide short-term success.
Moses Wanyoike, a fitness trainer, advises people to refrain from short-cuts as their presumably positive effects are easily wound back.
“Those undergoing surgical procedures like liposuction either have excess weight because of their genetic disposition or they just cannot stop eating. This means that they could easily gain the weight back if they go back to their old lifestyles or during the healing period after the surgeries.”
Gladys Mugambi, head of dietetics and nutrition at the Ministry of Health, says that staying fit requires a level of commitment where a person also observes a certain routine and also pays close attention to the kinds of foods they consume.
“There is a lot of information being shared online on diets and in most cases the Internet is awash with misconceptions about certain foods and workouts. Some of the information posted regarding weight loss offers a blanket advice that may work for some people and leave the rest feeling cheated. It is important to let a professional coach prescribe a fitness routine,” she said.
Ms Mugambi further says that to remain healthy it is important to eat a variety of vegetables and fruits and to add herbs and spices like garlic and turmeric in meals. She also noted that it is important to reduce intake of sugars, fats and carbohydrates.
Concerns regarding “one size fits all” fitness fads are being raised amid their growing popularity in Kenya. For instance, several Facebook pages marketing detoxification concoctions and short-course fitness challenges have been gaining immense popularity, something that has experts concerned.
Weight management specialists and fitness trainers say that these quick-fix solutions are not personalised and offer no guarantee.
“The blanket techniques on weight loss and fitness are often not backed by science and also are not sustainable owing to the fact that some are expensive and take heavy toll on a body,” said Moses.
Gladys, too, notes that surgical options portend great dangers and may sometimes do more harm than good.
“Surgical procedures are risky, and no matter the assurance given anything could go wrong at any time. And when they are successful one will need to exercise and practice clean eating and this does not justify going through such a procedure in the first place,” she said.
A report on weight loss and fad diets states by Better Health Channel, states that fad ‘diets’ may provide short-term results, but they are difficult to sustain, and ultimately deprive a person of the essential nutrients that only a balanced eating can offer.
The report further notes that a healthy lifestyle is easier to implement than most people think as it only requires a person to make a few changes in their diets and daily routines. It advises people to combine an active lifestyle with healthy eating by making small, achievable and lifelong changes to their lifestyle and eating habits, echoing Wanyoike’s sentiments.
“Staying fit takes discipline. A person has to watch what they eat and include exercise in their daily programmes. Proper change can only be realised when a person makes a commitment to alter their ways,” said Moses.
To maintain healthy diets, the report also recommends low-kilojoule nutritious foods and the moderation of portions as a good way to watch the amount of calories being consumed.
“Eating enough not until full, avoid eating when hungry, eating slowly. Feeding when necessary and regularly,” the report read in part.