Obesity is one of the most serious health concerns for industrialized nations.
It is associated with many lifestyle diseases such as:
- Atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease
- High blood pressure
- Joint problems
Obesity is also closely connected with arterial calcification and nerve injuries as a result of diabetes, trouble with potency and metabolic disorders.
One billion adults worldwide are estimated to have a body fat percentage of 20% above normal. In recent years, from 1980 until today, the percentage of obese people has tripled in industrialized nations.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
The Body Mass Index is calculated by using the height and weight of a person.
BMI can lead to inaccurate results because it does not take into account the body fat percentage. Thus, even a very muscular man who is healthy could have a high BMI due to his relatively high muscle mass. However this does not mean he is overweight.
Generally BMI scores mean the following:
- Less than 18.5 : underweight
- Between 18.5 – 24.9 : healthy weight
- Between 25 – 29.9 : overweight
- Greater than 30 : obese
You can calculate your BMI easily by using the formula: weight in kilograms divided by height squared. To work out your BMI, click this link which will take you to a calculation tool on the NHS website.
Please keep in mind that the BMI is a very limited tool, because it does not take into account your body composition. It only looks at the relationship between weight and height. Brad Pitt famously had a BMI of 28 at the time he filmed Fight Club.
Causes of Obesity
Obesity is mainly the result of an imbalance between energy consumption and calorie intake.
The calorie intake is higher in fatty foods, because fat contains twice as many calories in 100 grams than proteins or carbohydrates. Only alcohol contains a similar amount of calories per gram as fat. Therefore you should reduce your fat and alcohol intake especially when dieting.
Most diets are not scientifically sound. These one-sided diets (chocolate diet, grapefruit diet, etc.) should be avoided. These unbalanced diets lead invariably to deficiencies in essential vitamins, minerals, trace elements and amino acids.
Even low-carb diets are not necessarily healthy. You should eat a balanced diet and eat a wide variety of foods.
Nevertheless, these diets, especially low-carb diets and formula diets are one way to lose weight quickly . While on these diets, you should take dietary supplements so that there is no deficiency of essential vitamins, minerals and trace elements.
These are from the Burgerstein Nutritional Handbook and these recommendations are suitable during a diet to support weight loss and health.
- Multivitamin – multimineral: Ensures that the body has enough micronutrients, and prevents deficiency symptoms. During a diet these are especially beneficial:
- Carnitine : obesity and a high fat diet increase the carnitine requirement. Obese people often have low carnitine levels. Carnitine improves the body’s ability to burn fat and helps (in addition to a low calorie diet), to reduce body fat.
- Coenzyme Q10 : overweight people not only have too little carnitine, needed for burning fat in the cells, but also too little coenzyme Q10.
- Vitamin C: as a supplement to low calorie diets it can accelerate weight loss. The vitamin C status is inversely related to BMI. People with adequate vitamin C status can oxidize fat more efficiently than people with a vitamin C deficiency.
- Zinc: has a regulatory effect on the appetite centre in the brain.
- Essential fatty acids: (omega 3 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid) can support weight loss. Omega 3 fatty acids also protect the arteries and may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and heart attacks.
Obesity is a very common problem in industrialised countries, and it can result in a range of health problems. Losing weight can improve your physical and mental health, but it is important to avoid diets which are unhealthy and restrict your intake of important nutrients.
When you are on a diet, it may be beneficial to take nutrient supplements. This ensures that your body has a supply of all of the key compounds for normal healthy functioning. For more advice about weight loss, speak to your GP.