The weight of obesity | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 08, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 10:50 AM, January 08, 2019

The weight of obesity

Recent surge of plus-size models and Internet influencers have sent waves across the world, where it is seen as a form of normalisation, acceptance, and change. But the message it sends is not exactly clinically correct, or good, for that matter. Plus-size indicates you are above your standard weight, you have a high Body Mass Index (BMI); chances are you are obese too, and according to medical science, this means unhealthy.


Through the year we sometimes gain and lose weight without paying much heed. But when the gaining starts it gets hard to stop it. Start by measuring your BMI. This measures your height to your weight and tells you if you are obese or not.

A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 means regular weight. Overweight is indicated by a BMI of 25 to 29.9. And if you have a BMI equal to or over 30 you are obese.



Where the fat is being deposited has a lot to do with the diseases that might follow with obesity. A waist size over 35 for women is considered obese, and for men it is a waist size above 40. 



Cardiac illness

The most common diseases linked with obesity are heart diseases, and strokes. The extra weight often means you have high blood pressure and high levels of bad cholesterol. Both of these contribute highly to the chances of a stroke, or heart attack.


Most of the population that suffers from type 2 diabetes are obese. A balanced diet alongside a proper sleep routine and exercise can help prevent one from developing diabetes. If you already have diabetes, losing weight will help in controlling blood sugar levels and reduce the need for medication.


Different sorts of cancers are linked to obesity and being overweight. Cancers in the colon, breast, kidney, oesophagus and endometrium (the lining of the uterus), and in some cases cancer in the gallbladder, the pancreas, and the ovaries as well are traced back to obesity.

Gallbladder diseases

Gallstones and other forms of gallbladder diseases are more common in people who are overweight, or obese. However, be careful to not overdo your weight loss, or try to achieve it too quickly in an unhealthy manner, as that too might cause gallbladder diseases.


Almost all obese people suffer from osteoarthritis. This is because the joints of our bones are incapable of taking the extra weight being put on them. The tissue between the joints (cartilage) starts to wear away, causing severe joint pain. The knee, hip, and back are the most common places.


This is another one that affects your joints and is caused by excess uric acid in the blood. Crystals from the excess acid deposit themselves in the joints, causing pain. This is more common in overweight individuals than those who are not. Sudden weight loss is also hazardous, so be sure to check with your doctor, if you have a history of gout.

Sleep apnoea

Sleep apnoea is a condition that leads to trouble in breathing and heavy snoring which can lead to disruptions in the breathing cycle during sleep. This results in daytime sleepiness and can cause heart diseases.

Kidney problems

Since obesity causes high blood pressure and increases chance of diabetes, it can lead to chronic kidney illnesses, which is the result of the prior two. Losing weight slows down the disease and keeps your kidneys healthier. Keeping a low salt diet and controlled blood glucose level can also help.

Troubles during pregnancy

Overweight pregnant women have higher chances of developing gestational diabetes, preeclampsia (which is high blood pressure during pregnancy that causes problems for the mother and child), and lower chances of natural birth. The child is also at risk here of being stillborn (dying inside the womb), born too early or neural tube defects (defects in the spinal cord and brain).

Psychological damage

Physical disorders are not where the trouble ends. Feeling demotivated, rejected, and unattractive for being obese are common causes leading to depression. Exercising and physical activity help drive these symptoms away. But for when it does not, turn to therapy alongside physical exercise. This can be through a dietician or a group, but it will help speed up the recovery process.


A balanced diet

While a portion of people love to cut out carbohydrates entirely for a fast transition, it is not always considered healthy. Our body requires carbohydrates to function properly, so it comes down to the selection of the type of carbohydrate you are having.

Lean towards unprocessed whole grains like wheat, brown rice, brown bread, and steel cut oats. When choosing vegetables, look for colourful ones as they will bring in a lot of variety of nutrients and minerals to your diet.

Potatoes are best to avoid.

When consuming fruits, do not discard the whole skin, consume what you can because you are going to need those fibres. Also avoid fruit juices as they have added sugar which leads to weight gain. Rely on fish and poultry for most of your protein intake, with as little red meat as possible. Proteins also include nuts, beans and seeds.

Careful with the beverages

If you are thirsty, get water. Carbonated drinks, fruit juices, shakes and all other options in the market are loaded with calories you do not want.

Calorie counting does not always work

Counting calories is one way a lot of people start, but it is a lengthy and hard process that does not always yield positive results. It is easier to simply avoid overeating and eliminating high-calorie foods altogether.

Do not skip meals!

Missing meals altogether might seem like an easy solution, but it will only lead you to binge eat later on. So have your meals at their designated times, with the breakfast being the heaviest.

This keeps you less hungry throughout the day. And finish off with the lightest dinner and avoid going to bed on a full stomach.

Chew your food

Not chewing properly makes you eat faster and before you know it you have overeaten. Take small bites and take your time to chew, this gives your brain and stomach some processing time and makes you eat less.

Limit the LED screen

Television, computers and cell phones all require sitting down for prolonged periods of time aiding in weight gain. This is especially important during meal times, when we lose control of the amount we consume while watching TV.

Cut down on fast-food

Fast-food equals unhealthy oils, big portions and a heap of calories, minus the nutrients. Cook at home and your health will thank you. 

Focus on snacks

Often times after focusing intensely on the meals, we end up snacking on unhealthy food, ruining the whole effort. Keep healthy alternatives for the small hunger spikes like fruits, nuts or yoghurt.

Increase physical activity

This does not entirely point to heavy gym routines, but no physical activity is a big factor leading to obesity. And even the strictest of diets cannot help one if they do not engage themselves in some form of physical exercise.

Do what you love

Exercise does not have to be a pain. Some love to cycle, others love to run, some love skipping rope. If you enjoy the activity, you do not get tired of it too easily.

Minimise sedentary time

This is just another way of saying minimising the time you sit down. This is a growing problem which leads to obesity as well as a handful of other physical problems.

Physical activity differs for people of different ages. According to Harvard Health Reports the physical activities recommended are:

For adults —

About 2.5 hours a week of moderate activity such as walking, slow biking, or riding or 1.25 hours of vigorous activity like running is recommended for good health. For weight control one hour of daily moderate to vigorous activity is recommended.

For children —

About one hour of daily moderate to vigorous physical activities are recommended. As well as muscle strengthening and bone strengthening activities at least three days a week.

A healthy sleep cycle

Too much sleep can limit one's physical activity leading to weight gain, but too less can do the same as well. Your body requires more sugar to function when you get less sleep, eventually leading you to consume more. The average adult requires seven to eight hours of sleep; children aged one to five require 12 hours, five to 12 years require 10 hours, and adolescents around eight hours of sleep.

Start early with children

Once a child ends up with a high BMI, it gets difficult for them to lose weight later on in life. Instead start early so they do not end up gaining more than they are supposed to in the first place.

While acceptance and normalisation is a great move, it should not come at the cost of our health. In today's world where pretty much every food we consume is somewhat contaminated, healthy food choices will not only prove to be a great lifestyle, but your ticket to remain out of the hospital.


It's not only the food…

“Eat lots of vegetables; cut down on fats; exercise for at least two hours daily and indulge in more physical activities!”

If you are chubbier than others, and God forbid overweight or obese, you are probably already tired of hearing these catchphrases every second of your life.

However, there is no denying that this is a major concern. Obesity is a major health issue and concern globally because this may lead to myriad diseases like cardiovascular problems, type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnoea, certain types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.

Choice of diet food and lack of physical activities have often been considered the major causes of obesity. But, how many of us are aware that obesity can at times be a genetic issue; rather than simply the burger that you indulge on once in a while!

Every cell of our bodies carries genes, which carry codes that govern how our bodies develop, and carry with their day to day existence. With the progress of science we are now gradually getting a grip on the nature, and how these codes influence our health, even lives.

One of the genes present in humans is known as the FTO gene (fat mass and obesity — associated gene). Depending on the codes they are carrying, the genes responsible for the colour of the iris differ and thus we see brown, black, or hazel eyes.

FTOs can be termed as being AA or AT. A person with AA is more susceptible to obesity than someone having TT in their genome.

In a person who has AT, or worse, AA, fat will accumulate faster and easily than others. Some researches also suggest that the A form of the FTO gene hinder energy loss/expenditure from the body.

Another hereditary problem that may lead to obesity is insufficiency of the leptin hormone, which regulates energy balance in the body. It maintains a balance between energy taken in and energy used up.

If the gene that codes for leptin is faulty in any individual, less leptin will be produced and as a result the balance is lost.

At times, deficiency of leptin may cause a person to crave for food more than usual, thus leading to obesity.

Leptin is called the anti-obesity hormone, and anyone having a lesser amount of this hormone than usual will eventually become overweight, if not obese.

There are other genes in the body carrying codes for enzymes (protein catalysts) that metabolise energy. But in genetic disorders, these genes mutate or are faulty, thus not producing the desired enzyme.

If anyone is obese due to genetic reasons, he/she must consult a doctor or dietician and follow a prescribed routine so that other diseases which are caused due to obesity can be avoided or brought to a minimum.


Photo: Collected

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