Overweight and obese are characterized by abnormal or excessive body fat accumulation, leading to severe health impairments. WHO has defined overweight and obesity in terms of Body mass index (BMI) for adults, wherein a BMI greater than or equal to 25 is considered overweight, and a BMI greater than or equal to 30 is said to be obese. According to WHO estimates, approximately 40% of the global population is overweight, with nearly 13% being obese, escalating the worldwide prevalence of obesity to pandemic proportions.
Obesity levels in India are escalating rapidly across all zones leading the country towards a drastic epidemiological transition from an underweight to an overweight or obese population. Considering Indian prominence, obesity incidences are more prevalent in urban regions, with a tendency to be higher among women (41.88%) as compared to men (38.67%), which is predisposed among people over 40 years of age (45.81%).
Unhealthy dietary habits and a sedentary lifestyle are prominent causative factors inducing obesity. However, there are various other triggers that increase the susceptibility of women toward obesity; these include:
Genetics and family history
Rate of metabolism
Hormonal fluctuations and thyroid disorders
Pregnancy and weight gain during pregnancy
Clinical conditions like PCOS and Prader-Willi syndrome
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menopausal conditions
Calcium deficiency and bone conditions such as osteoarthritis
Stress and depression
Being too fat (adiposity) has particularly adverse consequences on every facet of health, distressing women's health in many ways. Excess weight in women can impact reproductive and pulmonary function, cognition, and mood, raising the risk of several chronic and fatal illnesses. Being overweight or obese:
Elevates the risk of musculoskeletal disorders such as low back pain and knee osteoarthritis.
Causes alterations in the reproductive cycle
Affects contraception and fertility.
Increases risk of the polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
May predispose to an increased risk of ovarian, breast, and endometrial cancer.
Obesity also induces adverse maternal outcomes such as spontaneous miscarriage, gestational diabetes, hypertensive disease of pregnancy, difficult labor, and preterm delivery, with increased risk of neonatal mortality and malformations.
Shedding off extra kilos is more difficult for women than men due to differences in their structural built-up and metabolism rate. In addition, women at the menopausal stage experience reduction in estrogen levels that further reduces the metabolism and increases body weight, thus making weight loss more complicated.
As per the clinical experts, the most critical approach to weight loss is dietary modifications coupled with regular exercise. A few lifestyle tips that assist women in maintaining healthy body weight include:
Keep track of calorie intake – The Dietary Guidelines recommend 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day for women. Managing your calorie intake can help you stay fit and maintain your body weight at healthy levels.
Stay active – Building muscle mass help boost your metabolism and burn excessive calories. Regular exercise for at least 30 minutes five days a week is an effective weight loss strategy for women. Avoid sitting for longer durations and indulge yourself in daily activities and household chores.
Eat mindfully – Mindful eating techniques include:
Sit down properly, preferably at a table, while eating your food.
Avoid distractions such as TV, Laptops, and phones while eating.
Eat your food slowly and ensure to chew it properly.
Keep yourself hydrated. Drink plenty of water and avoid aerated and sweetened beverages
Make considered food choices by opting for nutrient-dense foods.
Eat protein for breakfast as it provides satiety and gives the feeling of fullness for several hours. High-protein breakfast may include eggs, oats, nut and seed butter, quinoa, sardines, and chia seed pudding.
Restrict the consumption of sugary foods and refined carbohydrates. Include whole grains, fruits, nuts, and seeds in your diet.
Dietary fiber increases the feeling of fullness, potentially leading to weight loss. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to fulfill your nutritional needs.
Formulate a Healthy meal Plan- Several research studies have proven the health benefits of dietary strategies such as Mediterranean, low-carb, DASH, etc. Choose a diet plan that satisfies your needs and helps you achieve your weight loss goals.
Maintain gut health – Gut microbiota plays a significant role in weight management. Some foods can boost good bacteria in the gut, which include
plant-based foods – fruits, vegetables, grains
fermented foods - kimchi, kefir, yogurt, Sauerkraut, tempeh, and miso
prebiotic foods - chicory root, oats, barley, onion, garlic, asparagus, leeks, banana, and avocado
Try intermittent fasting techniques – Several studies have indicated that short-term intermittent fasting, up to 24 weeks, leads to weight loss in overweight individuals.
Get a good night's sleep - Numerous studies have shown that inadequate sleep is associated with an increased incidence of obesity. According to research, poor sleep reduces metabolism, increases the production of cortisol, and alters appetite-controlling hormones (leptin and ghrelin), thus resulting in obesity.
Manage your stress levels - Stress triggers the release of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which directly impact appetite and lead to body weight concerns. Implementing stress-management intervention programs may result in a significant reduction in the body mass index, thus assisting in weight management. Some methods of managing stress include:
Yoga, meditation, or tai chi
breathing and relaxation techniques
spending some time with nature like walking or gardening
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