What does it mean to be Overweight?
The term "overweight" has come to mean anything from a couple of pounds over your ideal figure to bordering on serious weight-related health concerns. Being overweight is something that many people struggle with in today’s modern society, and it can be difficult to overcome.
In essence, being overweight comes down to eating more calories than the body expends (or burns up). If this process is prolonged, and the weight continues to climb, this can result in obesity.
Not only does being overweight come with a number of health concerns, it also has a negative impact on self-esteem and emotional well-being. In addition to this, westernized societies tend to place huge emphasis on the "ideal" body weight and this has lead many people down a dangerous path of yo-yo diets and "quick-fix" methods of weight loss in pursuit of that illusive slender figure.
However, these weight loss techniques often confuse the metabolism and cause it to be sluggish and less effective. Fluctuations in weight are especially counter-productive for anyone trying to lose weight, and should be avoided! This does not mean that you are doomed to carry those extra pounds with little hope of fitting into that bikini by summer, it just means that any weight loss should be done gradually and healthily, and the best way to help yourself if you are overweight, is to change the destructive lifestyle habits that that perpetuate the problem.
What are the Consequences of Being Overweight?
While the consequences of obesity are generally well documented and accepted amongst medical practitioners, for people who are considered overweight health risks are somewhat more controversial. It is however important to acknowledge that being overweight (according to the BMI) does increase the risk of those complications shared by obesity. Studies have shown that the chances of death increases between 20 and 40 percent in people classified as overweight.
If you are overweight health risks you are at risk of developing include:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Elevated cholesterol levels
- Certain cancers
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Loss of libido
- Pregnancy and birth complications
- Liver disease
- Reduced immune system function
- Swollen joints and fluid retention
- Muscular aches and pains
In addition,psychological wellbeing is also affected and self esteem issues are often the result. If you are overweight health risks that affect your psychological wellbeing include depression, anxiety, guilt and poor self image.
Are you Overweight?
The most common measurement used to determine whether you should be concerned about you weight is the BMI (body mass index) which calculates your body weight in relation to your height. This ratio measurement is compared to other categories clinically classified as underweight, healthy, overweight or obese, and will give you a fairly accurate idea of whether your body weight is in the normal or excessive range.
How Does the Body Mass Index Test Work?
Body mass index is determined by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared and multiplying by 100. It can also be calculated by dividing your weight in pounds by your height in inches squared and multiplying by 705.
The Body Mass Index (BMI) measurements are classified as follows:
Underweight: BMI below 18.5
Healthy weight: BMI between 18.5-24.9
Overweight: BMI between 25-29.9
Obese: BMI 30 or higher
A BMI score that is above 25, is considered overweight and your risk of weight-related health concerns increases from this point.
What Causes you to become Overweight?
There are a number of reasons why people become overweight although most commonly it is the result of consuming more calories each day than the body can expend and convert into energy. Excess calories are then stored as fat and the result is weight gain.
Causes and Factors in Weight Gain
- Genetics – Some people are genetically more likely to gain weight than others. Obesity and weight-gain tend to run in families and while this is largely due to the poor family eating habits, it also points to a specific genetic link.
- Metabolism - Some people have faster metabolic rates than others do. Poor dietary habits, little exercise and crash diets all slow down the metabolism and make weight loss difficult.
- Crash diets - When we diet or drastically reduce our intake of food, our bodies "think" that we are starving because there is a famine or lack of food available. The body then goes into crisis mode and slows down metabolism in order to conserve or make the most of the little food it is getting. The longer the 'famine' lasts, the slower your metabolism will become. Sooner or later (because we are depriving our bodies of essential nutrients) we will be forced to 'binge' or break our diet. When this happens, the body 'hangs on' to every bit of fat, carbohydrate or 'storable' food taken in, because the metabolism is still slow and the body will want to lay in 'provisions' for any future famine by storing food 'just in case'. The more we crash diet, the more our bodies become convinced that our food supplies are unreliable and the more they will therefore tend to store fat. When this happens, we will put on weight even while eating a normal, healthy diet.
- Psychological – Comfort eating is common problem that causes weight-gain. This can sometimes be due to boredom and inactivity, but is often linked to depression and low self esteem. Because food is often used as a reward or connected with a pleasurable experience, it becomes associated with good feelings and before long, food becomes akin to an emotional addiction.
- Sociocultural factors – Modern living often means a diet of fast foods and quick energy needs. This can lead to weight-gain and many people find they soon become overweight due to inactivity and years of eating the incorrect foods.
- Sedentary lifestyles – Lack of physical exercise is one of the leading causes of weight gain. With the introduction of computers, television, TV games and other technological advances that make life "easier", we find that there is little necessity or even opportunity for physical exercise.
- Medical conditions – There are some medical conditions that can cause weight gain and obesity, for example: Hypothyroidism; abnormalities or injury to the hypothalamus region in the brain; Cushing's disease and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a common hormonal disorder in women.
- Side-effects of certain medication – Some prescription medications can cause you to gain weight. Examples include: corticosteroids; certain female hormone treatments including some oral contraceptives; some antidepressants, and other psychoactive drugs, including certain antipsychotics, lithium, and antiseizure agents. Weight gain due to medication is usually temporary and generally does not lead to obesity proportions.
- Pregnancy – While weight gain during pregnancy is expected and essential for a healthy baby, many women struggle to lose weight after childbirth, commonly referred to as "pregnancy weight".
Help for those who are Overweight
There’s always a new diet being flashed about in the media, the most recent magazines, and the latest celebrity-fad. However, in most cases, these diets land up costing you a fortune and the weight that is lost is quickly gained thereafter. There are however a few successful weight loss treatments , the most long-term of which are the more gradual and natural approaches.
In an effort to lose weight, some people turn to prescription or over the counter medicine to control appetite and help them to 'starve' the extra weight off. Many of these products contain stimulants which raise heart rate and can cause anxiety and other health problems. Even some so-called 'natural' products contain ephedra and other harmful stimulants. Ultimately the body suffers and the lost pounds often return with a vengeance after the product is stopped.
If you find that being overweight is linked to emotional issues, it is well advised to confront and deal with your emotions head on. Consider some form of psychotherapy to help you identify emotional triggers and come up with positive alternative ways to cope.
Lifestyle changes should be the first treatment option when you wish to lose weight. While changing years of bad habits is not an easy thing to do, it is not as complicated as many people think, and once you adopt a healthy lifestyle, your body will feel the benefits and you may wonder how you got this far without it. Try incorporating the following tips into your daily life:
- A healthy and balanced diet that includes all food groups in moderation.
- A regular exercise routine
- A positive and healthy mental approach to food
- Identifying and dealing with emotional connections with food
The important thing to remember about a change in lifestyle is that it is a gradual process and so be patient and don’t expect immediate results!
Natural Remedies and Solutions
There are many herbal and homeopathic remedies can help you reach your goal weight in a healthy and effective manner. Herbs such as Garcinia cambogia, Taraxacum officinalis, Glycorrhiza glabra, and Capsicum minimum are especially known for boosting metabolism functioning and stimulating the digestive system, while helping to curb food cravings.
In addition, the sea vegetable Fucus vesiculosis contains a concentrated source of minerals including iodine, which assists in the production of thyroid hormones necessary for maintaining healthy metabolism in all cells of the body.
Homeopathic remedies such as Kalium Phosphate, Calcium Phosphate and Calcium Fluoride also help to improve metabolism while assisting in the breakdown of dietary fat. When used regularly, these natural ingredients can help to assist your body in weight loss while also helping rid your body of harmful toxins. The result is a slimmer, more energetic and healthier you!