Sunday 13 December 2009, 23:25

Overweight: a widespread health problem

Some recommendations to address overweight and obesity

Overweight: a widespread health problem

Overweight and obesity are health problems affecting a larger and larger proportion of the worldwide population, both in industrialized and in developing countries.


The WHO defines overweight and obesity as “abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health”. In fact it has been largely demonstrated that these body conditions may give rise to different health problems, such as heart disease, hypertension, breathing difficulty, type 2 diabetes, arthritis and certain cancers. That’s why overweight and obese people should be encouraged to reach and maintain a healthy weight.


Attaining and maintaining a healthy body weight is conceptually simple: calorie intake must be lower than calorie expenditure. But this is easier to say than to do. Although it is known that diet and exercise are the cornerstone of overweight therapy and management, any weight loss program should involve a comprehensive lifestyle change. Not only patients should follow a low-calorie and low-fat diet daily and take exercise on a regular basis, but they should also be strongly motivated to do so.


There are no miraculous diets, as well as there are no diets that work for everyone. The best way to find the right diet for one’s needs is to consult a dietician and follow any advice or instruction given by him.


Similarly there are no miraculous pills: any pill that claims immediate weight loss is either unhealthy or is a hoax. However diet and exercise may be combined with (but not substituted by) the use of certain slimming products. There are many commercially available products that may help overweight people to reduce calorie or fat intake, especially during the first weeks or months of lifestyle change, when it is more difficult to avoid temptations.


The mechanism of action of many active principles contained in such preparations has been established. For example chromium promotes fat metabolism, bitter orange increases the number of calories burned, green tea extract increases fat and calorie metabolism and reduces appetite, aspartame is a sweetener whose calorie content is much less than that of sugar.


Again, it is important to stress that all slimming products are intended to be used only with a low-fat low-calorie diet and regular exercise. It doesn’t make sense to drink coffee or tea with aspartame sweeteners and then eat a lot of high-calorie pastries!


By Chiara De Carli

Category: Health

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