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008 Maintain a healthy body weight

              Avoid heart diseases and other killer conditions associated with being overweight by keeping your weight in check, eating your breakfast daily, eating fruits and vegetables, limiting your intake of fat and calories, and working out regularly.


Body mass index (BMI)

              There are ways on how to determine your ideal body weight. The most commonly used measure is the body mass index, defined as:




              BMI below 18.5 is considered underweight and above 25 considered overweight or obese. Based on the 1998 Philippine National Nutrition Survey, the average weights for Filipino adults are 59 kg for males and 51 kg for females.34


Waist circumference

              Some individuals, like athletes may have BMI above 25 due to muscle mass. These individuals may not be considered obese but other methods may help determine if they really are. One is by measuring the waist circumference. To do it, locate the upper hip bone and place a measuring tape around the abdomen. The tape measure should be snug but not causing compression on the skin and it should be parallel to the floor. Men with waist circumference more than 40 inches and women more than 35 inches may have a higher disease risk than people with smaller waist measurements. Waist circumference also determines the fat in your abdomen; a major indicator for an increased disease risk.


Waist-hip ratio (WHR)

              The WHR may also serve as a good gauge of obesity, particularly in elderly. A study examined all-cause mortality risk by BMI, waist circumference, and waist-to-hip circumference ratio (WHR). WHR rather than BMI appears to be the more appropriate yardstick for disease risk stratification among older adults.35

              WHR is the ratio of the circumference of the waist to that of the hips. It is calculated by measuring the smaller circumference of the natural waist (just above the navel) and dividing by the hip circumference at its widest part of the hip.

              Women with 0.7 WHR are usually rated as more attractive by men, making WHR as a measure of attractiveness.36



Health risks of being overweight

              Extra weight can put you at higher risk of many health problems. People who are overweight are at increased risk of high blood pressure (hypertension), heart disease and stroke, along with higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, a condition that is also a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Several cancers are also linked to obesity. Obesity greatly raises endometrial cancer risk and obesity while young was found to boost pancreatic cancer risk.37


Table 8. Health problems associated with obesity

1. Heart disease and stroke

2. High blood pressure

3. Diabetes (type 2)

4. Cancer

5. Liver and gallbladder diseases

6. Osteoporosis

7. Sleep apnea

8. Asthma

9. Depression

10. Irregular menstruation


Asthma and other breathing problems

              Children who are overweight at age 6 to 7 years are at increased risk for having symptoms of asthma when they are 8 years old. Being overweight is also associated with the nighttime breathing disorder.38


Obesity and depression

              Obese people are more likely to become depressed than people with normal weight, while depressed people are more likely to become obese.39 Among children and adolescents, those who are overweight feel more lonely and anxious than their normal-weight peers.40 In addition, they are more likely to experience a more fragmented sleep at night.


Extra weight is heavy to your knees

              Being overweight can cause rapid deterioration of the cartilage in the knee, leading to osteoarthritis. Pains in the muscles and bones are also common.

              Overweight children have more aches and pains in their muscles and bones than their normal-weight peers.41 Obesity and inactivity, especially among women, also heighten arthritis risk.


Other effects

              Obesity in adolescence may increase girl's risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS), a debilitating disease.42 In boys, obesity can delay their onset of puberty.


What causes obesity?

              Some people carry some gene that makes them more likely to become obese. However, it has been shown that obesity is mainly multifactorial, meaning several factors interplay to lead someone to over-eat, move less, or just grow big.

              Most recent research reported that bacteria that make their home in the gut may help cause obesity43 and a range of health-threatening symptoms that go along with it.

              A recent study has detected compulsive-like feeding behavior in obese rats.44 This was associated with down regulation of dopamine D2 receptors, as has also been reported in humans addicted to drugs. This finding may suggest that food addiction in humans may also lead to obesity. Considering that overeating could be caused by specific brain activity, improving awareness may lead to change in attitude towards food.

              Too much bad food in the market and less healthy food available may certainly contribute to the obesity epidemic.


How to maintain a healthy weight

              The real way to lose weight is to cut back on calories in your diet. With a variety of low-calorie foods such as grains, fruits and vegetables, you can actually lower the total caloric intake without necessarily reducing the total amount of food you take. You also need to reduce fat to no more than 30% of daily calories you take. You may need to consult a dietitian and exercise consultants to guide you through your weight reduction plans.45

              In addition to diet control, exercise is a means to maintain weight.

              Having family dinners, getting enough sleep and limiting weekday TV time are three household routine that may lower the risk of obesity in children.    Workplace wellness programs including weight management are an effective way to reduce major risk factors for heart disease.

< WHYLLness 007          WHYLLness 009 >


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