Genetic contribution to body mass, over-weight and Obesity
come in all shapes and sizes. Whether or not a person is overweight depends on
their height, body frame and how much they weigh. The total body weight as a ratio
to the height is expressed as Body Mass Index (BMI). Body mass index (BMI) is
a measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to adult men and
women. Ideal numbers are between 18.5 and 24.9 and BMI of 25 to 30 is considered
as over-weight. If BMI is above 30, that will be Obesity. As we had seen earlier,
overweight or obesity is a disorder afflicting us apart from diabetes and hypertension.
Many Indians succumb to this defect which is caused by a metabolic syndrome that
prevents proper utilization of the nutrients in the food. Let us first analyze
the reasons for corpulence. Some of us are by nature slim while some others are
fat. But we cannot escape by pointing out our genes as the culprit for the flabbiness.
Recently I read somewhere that Obesity is not because it runs in the family but
because "no one in the family runs".
individuals among us have adopted a defective food style either by not eating
enough or overeating; wrong food habits as well as lack of physical exercise;
modernity adds to the ill-effects. Most people eat lot of starch products like
rice, wheat and potatoes and lots of fat as butter and ghee [melted butter] and
also lots of fried foods. Calories taken-in as food in excess of what we burn
by our daily activities and exercise get accumulated as fat and leads to weight
gain. By this process, the body starts accumulating fat leading to expanding waistlines.
There are persons who are not obese but may develop a bulging waistline. Women
during their reproductive age do not get a bulging waistline but put all that
extra fat in the thighs and behinds. It is therefore clear that only safe dietary
practices and proper exercise can prevent these disorders. The fat accumulated
in the midriff may reduce the effectiveness of the insulin produced in the body,
in keeping the blood sugar level under control - called as insulin resistance.
In this type of diabetes, even though insulin is available in sufficient quantum,
its inability to do its role leads to all the complications of metabolic syndrome.
Sometimes we hear a controversy that if it is the excess fats that leads to Insulin
resistance and diabetes or is the fat accumulation the effect of Diabetes. In
either way, one leads to the other and you end up in a cycle of this making the
metabolic syndrome worse. We should therefore adopt such preventive measures as
are necessary to control the body mass. Whatever is taken should not be excess
or rich food but just sufficient to maintain the body.
How much food do you need?
that we eat has calories, which the body uses as energy. In the adolescent stage
of growth, that is, up to 20 years of age, a large amount of food is required
to nourish the growth of tissue, limbs and internal organs. As already noted,
in a full grown adult up to the age of 35 years, this amount of food containing
2000 to 2500 calories is required especially for those involved in heavy physical
labor. The food needs to contain substantial amounts of proteins and fats. But
after the age of 40, such rich food is not needed, since the body does not require
that much intake to maintain itself. If you eat more food than that your body
will burn, during activities and exercises for energy needs, the extra calories
will be stored as fat. Those who consume lots of rice and wheat (rich in carbohydrates)
will have the excess starch converted to fat by the body metabolism which leads
to obesity. This will lead to diabetes and hypertension. So it becomes clear that
adult members, after the age of 35 or 40, based on the exercise and work they
do, will need to limit their Calories intake to 1000 to 1500 Calories only.
Food consumption and Physical Exercises
person consuming an Idli (Rice cakes) with a Caloric content of 80 can convert
and store it as fat capable of giving 180 calories. Eating like this will cause
diabetes in two ways: one, it leads to excess glucose (sugar) and secondly accumulation
of fat leads to insulin resistance apart from increasing body mass. The consequence
of guzzling 2000 calories instead of 1000 that are actually needed for sustenance
can be imagined by you. If partaking of 6 idlis and 2 vadas at the age of 25 is
continued till the mid-forties the results are obvious. It is a good practice
to limit the consumption of food even at an early age. Alternatively, it would
be a good habit to consume skimmed milk (low fat), fruits and vegetables. As we
will feel hungry when we eat fewer quantities, the advice is to add additional
servings of non-Caloric food items containing fibers and vegetables to take the
place of restricted intake of food items. A sudden reduction of intake by those
accustomed to heavy meals will have a negative effect on the metabolism. The chemical
process of converting food to energy will undergo a change by which the body will
reduce the production of energy (as done during fasting) and convert the rest
of the food as fat for future usage! This would also result in some amount of
weight gain in spite of one going on a diet. To avoid such a situation it is best
to do some physical exercise to burn the fat instead of storing it. The exercise
activity may be just for 20 to 45 minutes; in two sessions if necessary. Aerobics,
fast walking, jogging and cycling can be taken up but simple brisk walking will
do. This is termed "Behavior Modification".