|Basic General Knowledge on Obesity And Weight Loss!
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Obesity And The Different Weight Loss Techniques!
Before we start discussing obesity in-depth, it is important to be sure
exactly what we mean by the term. To some people, the meaning of "obesity" is
just a matter of common sense, but how we understand the word is important to
how it is diagnosed, and, of course, treated.
Some people think that being obese just means being very overweight. Past a
certain point, an overweight person is labeled "obese." However, not all medical
authorities use this understanding of the term.
To the United States National Library of Medicine's Medline Website, obesity
means having an excess of fat. Being overweight is a wider category that simply
means weighing too much, whether or not the extra weight comes from fat or some
other type of tissue, such as muscle. Under such a categorization system, a
bodybuilder, for example, may be considered overweight but would not be obese
because the extra weight comes primarily from muscle. An individual who has
excess fat but a smaller physique than the bodybuilder is, however, likely to be
considered at least mildly obese.
The Body Mass Index, or BMI, is one of the most popular measurements used to
determine whether a person is obese, and if so, to what degree. It is calculated
based on a person's weight and height, with allowances usually made for age.
Indeed, the BMI is used as a valuable tool in determining whether weight loss
medication is to be prescribed. For instance, if a person's BMI is under 30 (or
27, in cases where they also have attendant conditions such as serious
hypertension), the person is more likely to be told that he/she should stick to
diet and exercise, rather than resorting to the aid of pharmaceuticals.
However, the BMI is by no means a perfect tool. The trouble with the Body Mass
Index is that the method of measurement does not differentiate with sufficient
accuracy between fat and muscle tissue. As a result, people with a great deal of
muscle such as athletes may be categorized obese, even though they do not truly
have a problem with excess fat. Pregnant women may also have similar issues with
the inaccurate "labeling" of bodily tissues. There is also growing recognition
of the differences in physique according to race and genetics. A
one-size-fits-all calculation and/or index might not really be the best way to
screen a diverse world population. For instance, an online BMI calculator based
on appropriate weights for a mostly Caucasian population might yield skewed
results if used by some people in Asia.
What's the Big Deal?
Cultural perceptions of obesity have been getting a great deal of media
attention in recent years, particularly in connection with eating disorders in
the West, and increasingly in non-Western, Westernized cultures. The Western
fashion industry has been getting a great deal of the blame for the steady
downsizing of the "ideal body." The prevalence of the "coathanger frame" ideal
may encourage voluntary starvation and other unhealthy habits. Besides this, it
encourages people to attach a social stigma to obesity.
The desire to look slim or thin may also be linked to the rise of so-called
youth culture, an aspect of which is the increased desire to have a youthful
appearance. Being obese can make a person both look and feel older. For
instance, it is no coincidence that many of the waifish male and female models
strutting the catwalks are often much younger than their counterparts were a few
decades ago. (Of course, it is also possible to go too far in the direction of
slimness, where a person's emaciated appearance can actually make them look
For many people, the wish to be considered attractive or to be aesthetically
acceptable in one's own eyes, which an overlapping but not identical concern is
a major factor in wanting to get rid of or avoid obesity. Whatever your idea of
the "perfect" figure happens to be, there are serious objective reasons to be
concerned about obesity.
Obesity is a serious issue because it increases the risk of other ailments. One
of the most critical locations for fat deposits on your body is your abdominal
region. A high amount of fat in this area is linked to ailments of the internal
organs, though the nature of this link is still very much a topic for debate
within the medical community. Unfortunately, fat around the abdomen is also
notoriously difficult to get rid of. Men with waistlines larger than 40 inches
are considered to be running a significant health risk, while the threshold for
women is 35 inches.
The cardiovascular system is particularly vulnerable to high amounts of fat and
cholesterol in the body. Deposits accumulate around the inner walls of blood
vessels, leading to conditions like atherosclerosis. Here, the lipid deposits
narrow the pathway available for the passage of blood, thus forcing the heart to
work harder. Blocked or overly stiffened arteries may also increase a person's
risk for gangrene (particularly in the lower extremities), which is often
treated with amputation, as there is often no other recourse.
Obesity is even linked to the onset of certain cancers. Once again, the nature
of this link is a matter of debate. Some people explain it as a matter of cancer
cells being able to feed off a large amount of fat and sugar, and thus being
able to proliferate more quickly. Others believe that perhaps fatty cells tend
to respond to hormones differently, which somehow facilitates the onset and
spread of cancer. Whatever the biological mechanism might be, people with a
family history of cancer and/or significant personal exposure to carcinogens are
advised to pay extra attention to their weight.
Obesity around the World
The prevalence and/or seriousness of obesity are by no means uniform around the
world. These vary according to the levels of affluence, the cultural eating
habits, etc. common in a particular area. The United States is widely regarded
as the world's "fattest country." Most of the other countries on that end of the
spectrum tend to be European.
Scientists have also been studying why certain ethnic groups appear to be more
prone to obesity than others. This is not a racist or bigoted comment. Rather,
it simply refers to the apparent tendency of different ethnic groups with
similar lifestyles (as in multi-ethnic societies where there is not too much
correlation between ethnic group and socio-economic class) to have varying
obesity rates. According to some scientists, ethnic groups from the Pacific
Islands, Southeast Asia, and Africa are likely to have evolved with a "thrifty
gene" that increases the body's tendency to store up fat. Therefore, people from
these ethnic groups who live in Western countries may be in particular danger of
developing obesity-related illnesses, and perhaps anti-obesity treatments should
be constructed with their genetic makeup in mind. People from the Middle East,
on the other hand, tend to have evolved with the opposite genetic tendency.
Of course, the connection between fat/lean genes and ethnicity is by no means
"perfect." Ethnic groups tend to have a mix of both types of genes within their
population. This particular section of the article should not be taken to mean
that certain ethnic groups have "defective" or "inferior" genes. Rather, it
simply means that their genetics, which at one time helped them to survive, no
longer match up well with their present context. Since evolution takes several
millennia to work, this should not be taken as an insult to anybody's race.
Obesity and Diet
So much has been said about the basics of lean/fat eating that the basics of it
are very much common knowledge. Many people, particularly in the West, do not
eat enough vegetables. An over-consumption of processed carbohydrates (white
bread, pasta, white rice) contribute not only to obesity but to diabetes in
people who do not appear to be obese, particularly in areas where these foods
are staples. Also, it is not just what you eat but how it is cooked. Deep-fried
food, for instance, can be very unhealthy, even if the ingredients are otherwise
However, the best way to avoid the necessity of extreme, possibly expensive
diets is to take a long-term view of your eating habits. Start eating healthily
while you are still young. In effect, you will be taking a moderate,
preventative approach to obesity and its associated problems.
Various "fad diets" such as the Atkins or South Beach diet have tried to ride
the diet wave. However, these diets, particularly the Atkins diet with its
merciless cutting of carbohydrates, often bring on major side effects, such as
fatigue. The South Beach diet, for its part, can be quite expensive.
Also, as will be explained in the next section, dieting alone--no matter how
ruthlessly faithful you are in cutting out calories--is unlikely to be enough to
help you lose weight in the long term. The pounds are likely to come back once
you start eating regularly again, and there is the likelihood that your body
will have an even higher fat content, as the muscle weight you lost is likely to
return as fatty tissue.
Exercise is an important part of any truly effective weight loss program, so it
is quite a shame that many people end up attacking the issue of obesity through
diet changes alone. Of course, this is quite understandable, given the frantic
pace of modern life, particularly during hard economic times. Setting aside time
to go to the gym seems like a rather unfeasible luxury, especially when a person
is already feeling exhausted. However, a regimen that focuses only on diet is
much more likely to result in the â€śwrongâ€ť kind of weight loss (decrease in
muscle mass as opposed to fat) than one that balances healthy eating and
If a person is very obese, he or she might feel that exercising in order to lose
weight is a rather daunting prospect, since there is so much weight to lose.
However, it turns out that people who are very obese can lose more weight doing
the same amount of exercise than a leaner person can. This is because moving
about with extra weight actually burns more calories.
Of course, there are also some situations in which a person is simply unable to
handle a lot of strenuous exercise. In such situations, it may be better to
spread one's exercise through everyday activities, such as fetching things for
yourself, or walking short distances instead of taking your car. Over time, a
little regular exercise can go a very long way towards improving your health.
This is why it helps to start relatively early in life when it comes to
introducing a bit more exercise into a largely sedentary lifestyle.
In this section on weight-loss drugs, we refer to legitimate prescription
medications, rather than the extremely questionable substances flooding the
market (those will be tackled in later sections). Two of the most
widely-prescribed weight-loss drugs are Xenical and Meridia.
Xenical is available both in over-the-counter and prescription versions, the
prescription type, of course, being stronger. The active ingredient in Xenical
is called Orlistat. If you are allergic to this ingredient, make sure your
doctor is aware of this if you are considering Xenical. Furthermore, tell the
doctor if you have any type of diabetes or pancreatic problems. A history of
eating disorders or problems with absorbing nutrients should also be told to
your doctor, as should any thyroid problems.
Furthermore, please do not share your supply of Xenical with any other people.
Xenical is a relatively well-known drug whose effects--the blocking of fat
absorption--are rather attractive to y people suffering eating disorders. Do your
best to ensure that you do not become an enabler or facilitator of such
disorders. In fact, it may be advisable to keep your Xenical supply locked away,
if you feel that someone in your household might be tempted to use it. Also,
keep in mind that this drug alone is not enough to effect weight loss. A
legitimate physician should only use Xenical as a supplement to a regular
regimen of a healthier, lower-calorie diet, plus physical exercise.
Meridia, however, affects brain activity more than digestion. It acts on brain
centers dealing with appetite, making you feel full more easily than you
otherwise would. This effect is compounded by its other intended effect of
speeding up your metabolism. The drug usually comes in the form of capsules of
10 or 15 mg. Its generic name is sibutramine.
Of course, given its targeting of your body's essential processes, it is only to
be expected that Meridia can potentially have some very grave side effects. You
should avoid this drug if you took any herbal remedies, antidepressants, or
monoamine oxidase inhibitors over the past couple of weeks. People with
cardiovascular problems or mental disorders should likewise avoid Meridia.
As with Xenical, you are directed not to share your pills with others, even if
they are much more obese than you. They may have other conditions or ailments,
or may be taking other drugs, which will interact negatively with Meridia. If
somebody else asks to use your pills, suggest that they see their own physician
and ask about a prescription.
Weight-loss drugs are unlikely to cause quick, drastic shedding of pounds. For
instance, it may take up to a year for you to lose just a twentieth or a tenth
of your weight. This may not seem all that much if you are already very
overweight, but losing just a few percentage points can make a big difference to
your risk of diabetes, cardiac arrest, etc. Furthermore, it is likely that you
will have to take such drugs on a long-term basis once you start, instead of
just hitting your target weight and then leaving off your medication. Once you
stop taking your medication, it is quite likely that most, if not all, of the
weight that you lost will return.
Weight Loss Supplements
You can also buy herbal supplements that may help you lose weight--at least,
according to advertising. Supplements can, for now, usually be bought and sold
legally without prescriptions. Even so, you are advised to consult your
physician, especially if you are unfamiliar with the reputation of the
A plant known as Hoodia Gordonii that grows in the Kalahari Desert has been
talked about in weight-loss circles for the better part of the past decade. It
has been used by Kalahari bushmen for millennia as a way to suppress their
appetites--a matter of urgency in a place where food is hard to come by.
Apparently, the cactus contains a till-then unknown molecule called P57 that
targets the satiety centers of the brain. A drug was developed by a firm called Phytofarm, which then sold the rights first to Pfizer, then to Unilever, both of
which returned/dropped the rights. It is not quite clear why this has happened,
but the fact that both large companies decided not to pursue the project might
be a word of warning to those seeking to try out the product, particularly from
small distributors online which might not be selling authentic hoodia anyway.
Another well-known herbal supplement is the
Acai Berry. This so-called
fruit" or "miracle fruit" has received a great deal of television coverage as a
weight loss aid. This is attributed largely to its high antioxidant content.
Besides boosting metabolism, it also supposedly prevents the degradation of
cells associated with aging and some cancers. However, be very wary of
supplier/reviewer claims for this drug. The popularity of this supplement has
attracted many scammers.
For people who do not like pills, there is a more "organic" alternative in the
form of green tea. Reports on the strength of its efficacy as a diet aid vary.
However, according to O-cha.com, which provides useful calculations, five cups
of this beverage will only help you lose about 70 to 80 extra calories daily.
Depending on your weight loss goal, this might be just enough, or too little.
The point is that you should combine green tea with exercise and a healthy diet.
Furthermore, you might want to check to see if the diuretic and metabolic
effects of the caffeine in the tea will negatively affect your body.
Furthermore, look into ingesting versions of the drink where you also consume
the ground-up leaves, which are an excellent source of fiber.
You might also wish to try
Resveratrol, a compound found in red wine grapes in
small amounts. It is usually sold in pill form, since one usually cannot eat
enough of the plants containing Resveratrol and still get enough of the compound
to cause a significant effect. It is claimed that Resveratrol not only helps in
weight loss but helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels and boosts the immune
system. Both of the latter effects will be of especial concern to more mature
consumers, since diabetes and declining immunity tend to be major issues as one
Yet another measure available on the market is to take human growth hormone
(HGH) supplements. These HGH releasers do not necessarily contain the hormone itself,
but rather ingredients that stimulate your body's production of the hormone. You
may think that HGH is no longer relevant to you once you are an adult and have
stopped growing. However, this is far from true. A decline in HGH production is
associated with the signs of aging, such as hair loss, wrinkles, a slower
metabolism, and overall weaker health. Assuming you get your pills from a
legitimate supplier, you might be able to see an improvement on all these other
fronts, besides just weight loss. This type of multi-purpose supplement might be
a good alternative for people with many health concerns. After all, it can be
rather dangerous to take several supplements--each having a single effect--since
their ingredients might interact with each other in a harmful way and cause
unpredictable side effects.
Surgery and Obesity
There are a number of surgical means to aid weight loss. Plastic surgery
procedures such as liposuction and lipectomy are only some of these means. In
short, liposuction works by first melting the fat and then sucking it out of a
person's body through a tube known as a cannula. However, not everybody is
considered a good candidate for the procedure. Doctors may be more reluctant to
handle patients with diabetes, weakened immune systems, or inelastic skin.
Liposuction can be combined with some other procedures in a single session. It
is a relatively procedure compared to other plastic surgery options, but even
then, patients still do sometimes die on the table, sometimes due to blatant
malpractice by medical staff.
Other means involve targeting the digestive system. Some of them, for instance,
can stop your body from absorbing too many calories. This is called
malabsorptive surgery, of which the gastric bypass is a type. Another can reduce
the size of your stomach--or at least the size of its active portion--so that you
get "full" more quickly. This is referred to as restrictive surgery, which
includes procedures like gastric stapling. Of course, still other procedures
combine both means. Together, these two main types of operation make up the
category known as bariatric surgery.
However, many doctors will only recommend a gastric bypass or other similarly
drastic operations as a last resort. These are only for people who have already
tried diet and exercise, but are still morbidly obese. Surgery should not be
used as a "quick fix" for people who want a slimmer figure right away.
"Let the buyer beware" is the English translation of this section's title. It is
very important advice to anyone trawling the market for products to treat
obesity. Given the very high degree of demand for products and services that
facilitate weight loss, it is no wonder that several highly questionable options
are available to customers.
There are several rather spectacular urban legends dealing with people's
willingness to try anything to lose weight. One is about a woman who orders some
supposedly very special, effective weight loss pills. In fact, the medication is
billed as being so effective that she will only be sent a single pill, and will
not need any other doses at all. The pill arrives accordingly and the woman
takes it. It works, but over time, she is unable to stop losing weight and
starts to feel weaker. The story ends with a tapeworm slithering out of the
woman's body during the night: it turns out that the pill contained a tapeworm
Still, the real world of weight loss medications contains more than enough
horror stories. One of the most infamous "diet aids" to hit the market is the
Bangkok Pill. It has ingredients illegal in at least three countries: the United
States, the Philippines, and Thailand. The pills are intended to lower a
person's appetite by raising the levels of cathecholamine and serotonin in one's
bloodstream. Unfortunately, these pills come with a host of side effects.
Firstly, one can become dehydrated since ingredients like Lasix act as
diuretics. One can also develop various heart problems, such as angina--of
especial concern here, since many obese people tend to already have heart
ailments. Other effects can include impotence, vomiting, stroke, and even death.
Also, since some of the pills also come from rather questionable manufacturers,
some doctors do give credence to the widespread notion that Bangkok Pills often
contain shabu. This diet aid may be effective initially or even long-term, but
it is not worth the attendant health risks.
On the other hand, customers must not assume that, by keeping to legitimate
establishments, they are safe from quackery. The rise of "body sculpting"
procedures through massage machines is a prime example that can be used to
illustrate this point. These procedures are marketed towards people concerned
about cellulite. The treatment is available in various reputable spas and
cosmetic clinics. However, some physicians assert that it does not really work.
In other words, the procedure is neither invasive nor particularly dangerous,
but it may be a waste of your money.
The rule of thumb is that, when it comes to weight loss, you should always start
with a healthy diet and sufficient exercise. Only consider more drastic measures
when these basic means do not work. Even then, make sure to consult a doctor
first. As a final note, beware of any physicians who promise a procedure that
will fix all your weight problems, without also telling you to improve your
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