According to statistics, the leading cause of health-related deaths is diet, beating all the ranges of cancer and cardiovascular disorders.
This rings true because diet affects every aspect of life. Right after an infant is born it is breast-fed and from that moment onward, it is hooked on food. Food or rather filling your belly becomes king. This is the way of life.
The need for food to sustain life is unending and undeniable but the means of achieving this feat is ever-changing. And just like with the observable contrasts in the agrarian revolution and the industrial age and now the technological era, our diets have changed with the times.
African cuisine now has broccoli and raw salads in it. We have access to and have adopted Asian, Swahili, Ethiopian, and Western-style foods and dietary practices. The floodgates are open and after a point, there will be no going back.
In recent years, diabetes and hypertension — commonly known as high blood pressure — have lost their scare and shock factor and have become accepted into our lives as conditions we live with and manage.
The age factor for these once upon a time ‘old people’ diseases has gone down dramatically and the one thing synonymous with these health implications is our diet. It is a common factor.
As anyone with diabetes or hypertension would attest to, diet and exercise is a package prescription regardless of who you talk to.
The lack of a proper diet — one with a variety of good sources of protein, carbohydrates and the vegetable-fruit combo — and exercise has led to this one being an obese generation.
Obesity, a chronic disorder of excessive accumulation of fat above the ideal.
So how does one know if they are obese?
For the diagnosis to be made, a physical examination — checking height, weight, waist circumference and vital signs such as blood pressure, temperature, heart rate and listening to heart and lungs — is done.
An abdominal examination is also common. The body mass index (BMI) is calculated from the height and weight where a BMI of 30kg per square metre and above is an indicator of obesity. So is a waist circumference measurement of more than 102cm (about 40 inches) for men and 88cm (about 35 inches) for women.
Obesity puts you at risk of developing a metabolic disorder, which is composite of heart disease, diabetes and hypertension.
In case of injuries, healing time for the obese patient is increased.
The reproductive system is not left out either for both men and women. Obesity also increases your vulnerability to the development of different cancers.
It also results in mood swings and hormonal imbalances. The gut and the digestive system is a big mess and seldom works as it ought too as a result of obesity.
Most people who are obese lack healthy gut bacteria, they also give birth to children without this precious gift that is key for their immunity. Therefore, a new generation of people at risk of developing a myriad of health complications including obesity.
While loving your body as it is, is healthy and of importance, being overweight or obese is nothing to be proud of. It robs you of a great quality of life and the little joys of life are lost to you.
Constant fatigue plagues and playing with the kids becomes a chore, special time with your spouse is not as it should be for both parties.
We owe it to our children and the future generation to curb this thing called obesity before it ravages us any further.
The beauty of the solution is that it is doable, however long and painstaking the process.
If you meet the criteria based on your BMI and or waist circumference, or if your doctor has mentioned it, or if you suspect that you fall into this category — because we always know, the acceptance is, however, another story — you could start by visiting a nutritionist or dietitian.
Prevention and management of obesity are achievable through diet and exercise.
A healthy, wholesome, and balanced diet tailored to your specific needs, and the kind of physical activity that tickles your fancy ranging from brisk walking, or forgoing the lift and taking the stairs, to swimming and dancing, or cycling.
In extreme cases, pharmacologic and or surgical interventions may be taken into consideration.
You only need to decide to make the necessary adjustments to your lifestyle and you’re well on the first step to the journey back to health.
The writer is Nutritionist/Dietitian at Chiropractic & Physiotheraphy Health Centre.