Despite the global prevalence of obesity, there is no universal agreement about the best dietary practice to sustain a moderate or favorable body weight. Diets containing low percentages of carbohydrate and high percentages of protein result in greater quantity of weight loss (on a short term basis). Based on the results obtained from studies, diets containing a lower percentage of vegetables, fruits, grains and fiber – long with a higher percentage of fat – are likely causes obesity and weight gain. However, a lot of research still needs to be carried out in order to understand the dieting patterns of people with moderate or favorable body weights, who live within communities that consist of a large number of obese and overweight people.
One general question that keeps on popping up – is: "how can weight be controlled?" Does effective control depend on the place and time people consume their food? Is it more difficult to control weight if fast-foods are consumed in place of home-made foods? These questions and many others, linger on in a vast number of minds. Unfortunately, both scientific and non-scientific research do not have spot-on answers which could be all-encompassing replies to the myriad number of questions related to weight gain and obesity. From a look at most research findings, the available evidences contain words like: "could, likely, probably, unknown, etc."; and phrases such as: "to some extent,… ; it is possible that… ; it is generally very difficult to state that… ; there isn’t enough proof to say that… ; etc." So what exactly should humanity believe in? Well, whatever you believe in, this list shines a spotlight on inconclusive, and sometimes – contradictory facts about the reasons for obesity:
1. Quantity of fat:
Most times, the argument about obesity – in relation to the quantity of fat within a diet – doesn’t lead to any reasonable consensus because a lot of issues are usually considered at once. On the other hand, it has been observed that epidemiological facts could have been affected by some degree(s) of bias which certainly originates from "somewhere" during any research. One example is when a blunt equipment is used in measuring dietary intake; another is when a significantly lesser frequency of reporting (about fat and energy intake) takes place in relation to obesity.
One particular study reported that the parameters considered in discerning the relationship between obesity and the quantity of fat intake – are assessed by proxy, and are thus – prone to error. The differences in the procedures used to evaluate the degree of obesity, as related to fat intake, reveal a lack of uniformity across several studies. In fact, there are different views about the role which fat intake plays in bringing about obesity. In terms of diet intake, there are still arguments about the effects of diet make-up on weight increase: this is an area that needs more research. However, there is unwavering proof from various controlled trials (during experimentation) – that a large intake of energy-heavy nutrients (foods) promotes an unhealthy increase in weight.
2. Quantity of Carbohydrate: Sugar (Monosaccharides and Disaccharides) and Non-Starch Polysaccharides (NSP):
Predominantly, sugars exist as monosaccharides and disaccharides which are present in syrups, fruit juice and honey. Carbohydrates, which are mainly polysaccharides, are either starch or Non-Starch Polysaccharides (NSP). Diets with heavy quantities of carbohydrates help to defend the body against weight increase. But, if a diet is high on sugar, does the same idea hold? Results from studies are in conclusive: as a matter of fact, research conducted on a large number of people indicates that individuals – whose total energy consumption is high – are "inclined to" consume large amounts of sugar.
Available evidence from one study showed that the glycemic (blood sugar level) indicator is strongly related to BMI (Body Mass Index) which is a parameter that expresses the degree of probability at which obesity can occur. This insight is coherent with the speculation that – with an increase in blood sugar level, a greater quantity of insulin is generated; leading to the suggestion that specific types of carbohydrates "may be" associated with weight increase. The information from this particular research was not in agreement with the findings from other studies which support a reduction of carbohydrate intake in order to successfully lose weight – as advised by other investigators. All the same, it is necessary to investigate further in order to find a strong relationship between carbohydrate intake and weight gain, or obesity.
3. Quantity of Protein:
The Atkins Diet, which is a diet that contains a lesser amount of carbohydrates, became very popular until people became worried about the risk involved in ingesting too much cholesterol and saturated fat – up to a point that it lost popularity and significance. Funny enough, the diet could not help its own advocator (Dr. Atkins) who became a victim of heart failure – at least – at one time during his life.
One publication in the Journal of American Medical Association (2012) revealed that proteins have an influential role to play in weight increase; although calories play a much greater role. Furthermore, the study reported that researchers divided healthy people into three categories and gave them diets in which 1,000 calories – along with varying degrees of protein – were added to. After eating, it was observed that the category of individuals who ate the least amount of protein – put on the least amount of weight, although there was a drop in the mass of their muscles, along with 90% of fat in the form of calories.
The two other categories of individuals who separately ingested high and normal amounts of protein, gained an equal amount of weight that was higher than the first category which ate the least amount of protein. However, what was evidently noticed is that the latter categories had an increase in the mass of their muscles instead of a decrease. Although that may sound baffling, the study revealed the following:
Excessive eating leads to an increase in weight
Protein intake leads to an increase in the mass of the muscles
iii. Diets that are short of protein can make an individual become fat. As you noticed, the category of people who ate the least amount of protein – put on the largest amount of fat.
There is a lot of misconception about the appropriate amount of protein that should be consumed in a healthy diet. Some people are of the opinion that we already ingest too much, while others feel that any amount of protein we ingest is not too much.
4. Quantity of Alcohol:
Alcohol, which is an energy-heavy nutrient, has the ability to raise the quantity of fat stored in the body to a substantial degree. Regardless of available evidence indicating the benefits associated with a light intake of alcohol (in relation to obesity and body weight), various studies have shown contradictory evidences. Studies on food consumption reveal that energy generated from alcohol, adds up with the energy from food intake to produce a sum total of energy which only increases when more alcohol is consumed.
Generally, recorded proof from some studies reveals that moderate consumption of alcohol doesn’t lead to an increase in weight. In some instances, it’s quite true that the surplus amount of energy intake related with weight increase in some people – was likely due to alcohol consumption. Nonetheless, the existing proof is contradicting and handicapped by significant restrictions which make it difficult to put to rest the argument that alcohol consumption leads to obesity. Coupled with a healthy eating style (that won’t lead to weight increase), a light or moderate consumption of alcohol is recommendable.
Breastfeeding has been considered a strong measure against weight increase during childhood. A number of studies have shown that children who breastfeed are less likely to become obese in their childhood than those children who don’t; while other analytical studies revealed evidences which were contradictory.
Fat (or excessively fat) children are likely to carry their fatness into adulthood. An evaluation of 18 studies (carried out on almost 20,000 people) revealed that – in some studies – a link was discovered between breastfeeding and certain forms of obesity which might have occurred later on. A research on 9,367 children showed that obesity was predominant among 2.8% of children who breastfed, while it was higher (4.5%) among children who never breastfed.
After that evaluation, another published study revealed that – in a research carried out on a number of boys and girls in the USA (above 15,000 in number), between the ages of 9 and 15 – a drop of about 20% was observed in their likelihood of becoming overweight. This figure was only related with the population that breastfed regularly within the first six months of their lives.
6. Nutrition Level at Birth:
The amount of weight a new born baby has at birth – indicates the quality of nutrition it had in its mother’s womb. A survey on the forecasting of obesity showed a logically consistent connection between birth weight and the risk of becoming overweight, as a kid, or as a grownup. A research on more than 2,000 pregnant women (who gave birth later on) revealed that the children of women who put on an excessive quantity of weight – had, at least – four times the chance of becoming overweight at the age of three than children of women who gained an amount of weight that was "not adequate enough".
Another study carried out on children in four countries (Brazil, China, Russia and South Africa) between the ages of 3 and 9 years, proved that children who experienced stunted growth, had a higher probability of becoming overweight than children who didn’t experience stunted growth. The speculation that intrauterine and childhood under-nutrition produces excessive weight during adulthood – is an important one. Nonetheless, the degree to which they are associated, are evidently complicated, and existing data are not significant enough to make a single general statement on the issue.
7. Restricted Eating, Dieting and Bingeing Patterns:
While it may be agreed upon that restrictive eating is likely required to keep away obesity in circumstances where an ever-available supply of food is tempting, some people who actually succeed in restricting themselves to some extent, may end up eating out of control.
Research has shown that the probability of becoming overweight is lesser in those people who practice a flexible restrictive eating pattern; while the probability of becoming overweight is higher in those people whose practice of restrictive eating is too rigid. Excessive eating, and the habit of eating late in the night – are often associated with rigid restrictive eating. Various studies have pointed that – although the connection between dissimilar eating practices and obesity "is complex to figure out," it is generally agreed that excessive eating is usually associated with obesity.
8. Eating Outside the Home:
The rate at which people eat outside their homes is rising rapidly in the western world, and is properly recorded in the USA. Research in the USA has shown that a rise in the rate at which people eat outside the home, and the amount of money people use in eating away from their houses, has occurred simultaneously with widespread incidences of obesity.
It has been observed (in the USA) that food prepared outside the home has a greater amount of fat, total energy, sodium and cholesterol: also, it contains a lesser amount of calcium and fibre, and is typically inferior in nutritional quality than food prepared at home. These variations and differences in the composition of food – are probable reasons for the prevalence of obesity in the USA. Another observation is that people who eat outside the home more, have a higher body mass index (BMI) than those who eat at home more. In relationship with obesity, the evidence which shows that there is a risk involved in eating food outside the home, is highly associated with the USA; but it can be generalized on other countries where the same practice occurs to some considerable extent. In Asian countries, people are not likely to gain weight if they eat outside the home: in fact, it is unknown whether obesity is related with eating outside the home.
9. Frequency of Eating Snacks:
It is relevant to consider the composition of snack foods, and how a rise in the rate of eating snacks leads to becoming overweight. There is sufficient proof from the USA, that the rate at which people eat snacks is rising: also, the energy density and total energy in snack foods is increasing, with snacks taking up between 20 and 25% of the total energy in the body system of people who reside in the UK and USA. Even so, there isn’t enough proof to say that a higher rate of eating snacks would lead to obesity. In cases where there is little evidence, it rather shows that the frequent eating of snacks – fights against weight increase. Notwithstanding, the high concentration of energy in snacks may do the contrary, by promoting weight increase.
10. Environmental Issues:
Nowadays, it can be observed that fast-food shops are gaining more popularity (and control) over supermarkets, especially in the western world. At the same time, high-calorie foods are being widely advertised and vigorously marketed. The increasing causes of obesity in any environment surrounding people are probably a major factor for any outbreak in the spread of obesity. The surroundings in which groups of human beings live is quite complex, and individuals with various types of eating auras, have a great influence on other people’s eating habits in schools, restaurants, homes and fast-food shops.
A great deal of proof available about the effect(s) of the environment on eating and obesity (or weight gain) can be obtained from past research. Although, typically peaking – it’s difficult to pick out particular environmental influences. The same declaration can be made about environments in which people are not physically active. The increasing use of cars and machines in place of physical work associated with daily labor – are a few of the prevailing factors which influence people towards physically inactive lifestyles. Cases of obesity and weight gain have been observed to be higher among children who watch videos and television more.
ADVICE: MAKE MORE EFFORT TO PREVENT, THAN TO CURE
Prevention is very important in health, and also – in many other areas of life. Effective prevention involves the recognition of symptoms, and the implementation of preventive measures, before the symptoms turn into problematic conditions. There are ways you can use to find out whether your body and health are becoming unhealthy. Most problems we see could have been easily prevented by taking certain steps. It’s never too late to start practicing anything that can keep you healthy; so consider some preventive steps below:
i. Don’t Eat When you are Not Hungry
Research has shown that people who have moderate or light weight, are – slim, moderate or thin, because they only eat when they are hungry: when there is that need to eat. It’s advisable to eat – only when your body communicates the need for it.
ii. Take Healthy Diets
Everybody can align their diets with FDA standards, as it is one of the best ways to prevent obesity. The FDA advises that each individual should eat 2,000 calories per day; which should include foods like, milk, meat, vegetables, fruits and legumes in their diets.
iii. Do Not eat Junk Food
Although junk foods are difficult to resist, try your best to do away with them. Be wise enough to avoid eating any junk food because it’s one of the easiest ways to lead to obesity.
iv. Drink a lot of Water
Water detoxifies and cleanses many impurities within the body. Don’t allow it to contain sugar or any sweetening substances. The FDA advises that an individual should take between 8 to 10 glasses of water per day.
v. Monitor Your Weight
Measure your weight at least once every week so that you will be convinced it is within a healthy range. If you find out that it is increasing beyond an acceptable limit, then that is the exact time you need to start taking steps to lose some of it. If you notice your weight is getting on the high end, then you may have to reduce the amount of food you eat; or start doing more exercise than before.
vi. Make it a Habit to be Regularly Active
One of the best ways to prevent obesity is by living an active lifestyle. There are so many ways to be active; take a walk, run, ride a bike, practice yoga, etc. A lot of people like going to the gym, but that’s not so necessary.
vii. Go for a Medical Check-up, at Least Once in a Year
Medical associations and all doctors advise that people should go for medical tests, at least once a year; in order to detect whether there are any problems, or symptoms related to the occurrence of a greater problem which might occur in the future. If any problem is detected, a doctor can easily tackle it before it becomes serious.
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