Health and weight issues

Weight gain is a common symptom of Cushing’s syndrome, a condition in which you are exposed to too much of the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn causes weight gain and other abnormalities. A decrease in estrogen can cause women in menopause to experience weight gain around the abdominal region and the hips. Aside from the hormonal changes of menopause, women diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) may also experience weight gain. … Increased cortisol (stress hormone) production.

Overweight and obesity may increase the risk of many health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. If you are pregnant, excess weight may lead to short- and long-term health problems for you and your child.

There is a link between excess weight and many health conditions. Reaching and maintaining a normal weight may help you and your loved ones stay healthier as you grow older. It’s hard to power walk 10 paces at this time of year without being exhorted to “get lean”, “drop two dress sizes” or “lose 30 kilos in 30 days”.

For people whose body mass index is above the “normal” range, losing weight is touted by mass media and health professionals alike as the cure for a range of health issues, from diabetes and heart disease to untimely death.

But some experts say focusing on weight loss as the ultimate goal gets it back-to-front, and that promoting a consistent set of healthy behaviors would see the whole population healthier in the long run. “You don’t necessarily need to lose weight to become healthier,” says Professor Gary Wittert.

An endocrinologist at the University of Adelaide, Professor Wittert leads a long-term research program into appetite, diet and other lifestyle factors in men. “People should not focus on weight, people should focus on health. Then you don’t engage in these diets where you restrict your nutrients, and where people get depressed because they regain weight, which is almost “inevitability”. When people followed healthy habits for enjoyment and wellbeing rather than weight loss, they were more likely to stick to the lifestyle changes, staving off weight gain later, Professor Wittert said.

If you switch the debate and say, ‘stay the same weight if necessary, but there are four or five things you can do to improve your health’ – then the pressure and distress is relieved. People do lose some weight but you also prevent further weight gain across the population.”

Regular, enjoyable exercise is a part of good long-term health. (Unsplash: Efe Kurnaz) What are these four or five things? Well, a 2012 study found people who consistently had the following behaviors had a lower risk of mortality – that is dying over the course of the study:

n Regular exercise (more than 12 times a month)
n Diet rich in vegetables and fruit (at least five serves a day)
n Moderate alcohol intake
n Avoiding or quitting smoking
In this study, people who kept up with all four behaviours had similarly low risk of dying, regardless of whether they were classed as normal weight, overweight or obese.
To this list, Professor Wittert adds getting enough good-quality sleep, eating at regular times, restricting eating to daylight hours and reducing stress to optimize health.
Gaining a few pounds during the year may not seem like a big deal. But these pounds can add up over time. How can you tell if your weight could increase your chances of developing health problems? Knowing two numbers may help you understand your risk: your body mass index (BMI) score and your waist size in inches.
According to mass index normal weight should be: BMI of 18.5 to 24.9, overweight: BMI of 25 to 29.9, obesity: BMI of 30 or higher.
Another important number to know is your waist size in inches. Having too much fat around your waist may increase health risks even more than having fat in other parts of your body. Women with a waist size of more than 35 inches and men with a waist size of more than 40 inches may have higher chances of developing diseases related to obesity.
Now taking about food, Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables. Replace unrefined grains (white bread, pasta, white rice) with whole-grain options (whole wheat bread, brown rice, oatmeal). Enjoy lean sources of protein, such as lean meats, seafood, beans and peas, soy, nuts, and seeds.
For some people who have obesity and related health problems, bariatric (weight-loss) surgery may be an option. Bariatric surgery has been found to be effective in promoting weight loss and reducing the risk for many health problems.

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