Dangers of Obesity and How to Arrest It

Being obese or overweight has always been linked with chronic lifestyle diseases.   Many do know that a high body fat percentage puts a person at increased risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, bone problems, cancer, and kidney and gall stones and so on.  But it is also now seen that being obese is equal to being malnourished and deficient in nutrients.


As it turns out, obese and overweight people have more than their weight itself to correct. Studies find that deficiencies of key vitamins such as Vitamin D, calcium, iron, and B12, even though he or she is obese or overweight, are very common.  This has probably got to do with less and less time being spent outdoors, and more time spent either watching TV, or indoors in air-conditioned atmospheres.  B 12 deficiencies are increasingly becoming common due to high consumption of processed foods instead of fresh foods.


Many studies focused on the incidences of obesity in employees of IT industry and otherjobs that require long hours of sitting and found that:

  • More than 80 % had high body fat and a high BMI
  • 2 out of 3 IT professionals or those who have sedentary jobs are at high risk for developing diabetes and / or cardiovascular disease
  • 61 % had more than 3 risk factors (high body weight, high waist circumference, high blood pressure)
  • 20 % had diabetes, 25 % had high blood pressure and were unaware of the same
  • Anaemia (iron deficiency) was extremely common especially those that fall under the affluent part of society and rangedfrom a significant 19 to 88 % across five cities
  • More younger people in their late 20s and 30s now being diagnosed with health problems previously only seen in 40s and 50s
  • The incidence of obesity, diabetes and heart diseases such as stroke is steadily increasing in the “high-productivity” stages of the urban Indian between 25 and 35 years of age


So, how do we arrest this killer called obesity?

  1. Limit the time spent watching TV:  A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, concluded that each hour spent watching television after the age of 25 reduces your life expectancy by nearly 22 minutes. Adults who spend an average of six hours in front of the TV will reduce their life expectancy by just under 5 years, compared to someone who does not watch TV. Long hours of sitting also results in decline in cognitive function, slows down your brain’s ability to process information and executive functions.  A great idea is to schedule a small exercise session while watching TV.  If possible place your exercise bike or treadmill in the same room as the TV is placed and pedal or walk away while you watch.  Or you could just walk around the room so you don’t miss your favorite show.
  2. Do not sit for more than 1 hour continuously at workplace: Sitting puts more pressure on the spine than standing. The disks in the spine are designed for expansion and contraction allowing for maximum movement…not being idle in the same posture.Sitting excessively lowers flexibility of spine leading to herniated disks and back rigidity.  Set an alarm on your mobile or desktop to remind you to get up and stretch, flex and walk around for 10 minutes for every hour.  If possible, you could climb up and down a flight of stairs for 10 minutes
  3. Watch your portion sizes: Over the decades, portion sizes have increased by leaps and bounds.  One small cup of popcorn which would give around 150 calories is now a bucket with 1200 calories and 77 grams of fat which is more than what many of us leading a sedentary lifestyle need in a day.  Limit portion sizes, and choose smaller sizes of whatever you eat!
  4. Let all meals be freshly made at home from as fresh ingredients as possible
  5. Grow your own kitchen garden if possible
  6. Reduce dependency on processed and packaged foods
  7. Set one or two dates in a month for your favorite treats and exercise more around these dates to burn them off
  8. Fresh fruits – more the merrier-add a rainbow every week (try different colors of fruits every day)
  9. Fresh vegetables – make half your plate veggies; do not overcook, retain as much skin as possible.
  10. Replace white rice with brown or unpolished rice, use traditional millets such as foxtail, kodo, bajra and ragi.


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