Weight Matters

I was watching a show a couple days ago about a woman who was striving to become the “world’s fattest woman.”  Now I tried my best to not be judgmental, but I really found this to be pretty shocking.   Her goal weight is 1800 lbs and her BMI is currently 120.  For those who don’t know, a healthy BMI is generally considered 18.5-24.9 and a person is considered “obese” when his/her BMI is over 30.   As I was listening to her tell her story, I realized that like most North Americans (and citizens of countries that are beginning to adopt our food culture), this woman had no idea of the true impact her weight had on her health.  These detrimental effects are often invisible and can go undetected until a major event occurs (ie. heart attack or stroke).  So what kind of effects does being overweight or obese have on our overall health?

Those who are overweight or obese are at greater risk for:
  • High blood pressure
  • Cholesterol and lipid imbalance
  • Heart disease and heart attacks
  • Stroke
  • Cancer
  • Sleep apnea and other breathing problems
  • Gall bladder disease
  • Arthritis
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Infertility issues
By now most of us have heard that this generation of young people in North America will be the first to not outlive their parents.  A large part of this sad reality can be attributed to the increase in the number of overweight and obese people.  It is an unfortunate path that none of us meant to travel down, but the good news is that it is reversible!

Losing weight is never easy and it takes a lot of commitment to maintain a healthy body mass.  Some steps you can take to improve your overall health include:
  •  Exercise daily:  Weight management is all about how much you put into your body (food, drinks) and how much you expend (exercise, metabolic rate, daily activities).  So in order to lose weight, your input must be less than your output.  Besides increasing weight loss, just 30 minutes a day of walking can decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease as well as some cancers.
  •  Eat more fruits and vegetables:  It is safe to say that the vast majority of people can eat as many fruits and vegetables as they want without any harmful effects.  The benefit from eating fruits and vegetables includes decreasing the risk for developing virtually all of the above conditions.
  • Avoid processed, prepared, and “fast” foods:  There are so many hidden calories and unnecessary ingredients in processed and prepared foods that it is often difficult to really know what we are eating!  We all know that fast food is generally unhealthy, and in the long run the convenience is not worth the deleterious effects!
  • Eat slowly and avoid eating in front of the TV/computer: How often do you sit in front of the TV with a bag of chips only to realize you've reached the crumbs before the episode is even over? I know I’ve done that once or twice (ok, definitely more!) in my life!  Inhaling your food without chewing properly or thinking about what you are doing often leads to inadvertent overeating.
Other things you can try specifically to help you lose weight include:
  • Limiting gluten:  If you stop and read food labels, there are so many foods with gluten in them.  Gluten is what many are referring to (along with sugar) when they say they have a "carb" addiction.  Gluten-free products and gluten substitutes can be less caloric and more nutrient-rich, so if you find that you may be addicted to gluten you shouldn't feel like you are going to starve by going gluten-free!
  • Avoiding refined sugar:  Like gluten, refined sugar is found in almost everything that is pre-packaged or processed.  Check out Kate's post for some gluten and sugar substitutes.
  • Avoiding fad diets:  Often times these diets (ie no carb diets) help you lose weight pretty quickly in the short term, but in the long run can actually deter you from maintaining your optimal weight.  The best diets are those where the weight loss goal is 1-2 lbs per week.  Always seek the advice of a healthcare professional before starting a diet.
Although the steps listed above may seem redundant to a couple other posts we’ve already written, there is good reason!  It is also important to remember that you are not immune to these conditions just because your BMI does not fall within the “overweight” or “obese” categories.  If you have any questions about how your weight, diet, and lifestyle might be affecting your overall health, you should visit your naturopathic doctor or family physician!


Halle M and Schoenberg M. Physical activity in the prevention and treatment of colorectal carcinoma.  Deutsches Arzteblatt International.  2009;106(44): 722-727.

Photos from: Corbis Images www.corbisimages.com


Deb Darling said...

I have lupus and the rheumatologist was very blunt with me. At the weight I was at, not only was the lupus and rheumatoid arthritis that often accompanies lupus going to be painful, but I was doubling the damage because of my morbid obesity. I have lost 85 pounds this last year and the impact is so obvious....more energy, less stress on the joints, better able to walk (and enjoying walking again), when I do have flares, I recover much quicker. I have a long way to go before I am at a healthy weight (another 100 pounds) but I am determined to do it. I am counting calories and doing the weight loss sensibly as you discussed in your article. I was interested in the commments about going gluten free....another friend told me that going gluten free will also help with the lupus so I am definitely going to try it. Thanks for a timely article that reminds me (even while having scads of fun in Vegas this week) that taking charge of my weight also puts me better in charge of my health.

Christine Cho said...

Hi Deb,
Thanks for your comment. Great to hear you have made positive changes that are making a difference in your life. Let us know how a gluten free diet goes for you! We would love to hear about it...

Happy holidays,

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