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Is Diet and Exercise enough to Control Obesity?

Date: March 15, 2017

Obesity is a growing epidemic the world over, even as some war-torn countries on the other end of the graph are facing famine and under-nourishment. Growing urbanization, lack of time to cook nutritious meals and an overdose of adverts from media propagating unhealthy fast-foods are some of the main causes for this epidemic.

The current diet contains too much of refined carbohydrates, sugars and processed grains which lead to an unhealthy spike in insulin levels that trigger the body’s fat cells to soak up calories; but there isn’t enough nutrition or calories to provide the energy that we need, hence the brain will trigger a hunger response that will only make us want to eat more, leading to an overload of food.

According to a paper by a trio of doctors in New York, obesity is due to an unhealthy diet and not due to lack of exercise; according to these obesity specialists, exercise reduces the risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, etc, but it doesn’t promote weight loss.

We are told that to lose weight, we should eat less and exercise more, scientifically it makes sense as we would then be burning more than what we consume, but in the long-term, this formula doesn’t work. Following the above advice, only a few are able to lose substantial weight- and keep it off too. It’s now being suggested that genetics play a large role in obesity and it’s not just a simple case of excess calories leading to obesity, but rather, it’s a case of biological stamping in chronic obesity, with the body regaining the lost weight each time.

It’s been suggested that dieting shouldn’t be encouraged either, as it triggers the body to slow down metabolism and start storing fats instead – much like in the ancient days when food was scarce and human survival depended on making the maximum use out of every small bit of food. Through human history, it was also sickness or starvation that had led to weight loss, so the body has evolved sophisticated biological mechanisms that make weight loss so difficult.

And this is the reason why over 80% of people who lose weight through tedious dieting end up regaining it again. For cases of chronic obesity, treatment needs to go beyond dieting and exercising; currently we have the fast expanding field of weight-loss bariatric surgery (an operation on the stomach and intestines), prescription medications as well as a device that blocks the vagal nerve to help in obesity control. It’s been suggested that weight-loss surgery might be the most effective form of treatment for obesity which in turn also ends up controlling various other diseases associated with obesity.

However, doctors should first focus on promoting healthy lifestyles that would prevent obesity; healthy lifestyles would also serve to make the obese person healthier, if nothing else!

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