Understand Obesity, Prevent Stroke

Now that Halloween and Thanksgiving are finally over, we’re looking forward to the end of this year. While Christmas is right around the corner and the only thing one can think of is the candy and food, it could be nerve-wrecking for a lot of people out there who are struggling with body weight issues.

Most of the world’s population live in countries where obesity kills more people than undernourishment. You may ask – how? Well, those extra pounds come with increase chances of getting a stroke (or a recurrent stroke if you have put on loads of weight after stroke). As confirmed by studies, adults with a BMI >30 kg/m2 have about a 70% increased risk for ischemic stroke compared with individuals with a BMI <25 kg/m2.

The good news is that Obesity is preventable. But, how do you do that? By being more aware about its root cause. This blog is an attempt to educate you about Obesity so that you understand the importance of embracing a healthy lifestyle.

Weight gain can basically be categorized into three parts. First, Increased Muscle which is mostly due to exercising and is considered healthy as in this case fat is converted into lean muscle. Second, Fluid Retention which can be due to excess salt intake, certain medication or medical condition for which a physician should be consulted. And, the third one is Increased Body Fat which is mainly due to lack of exercise, bad diet and sedentary lifestyle. Eventually, this leads to people being overweight or obese as their body has more fat than it is considered healthy.

One of the indicative measures of a person’s body fat (based on his weight in relation to the height) is termed Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI gives a scale to measure if a person’s body weight is above or below a healthy range. BMI above 25 is considered overweight and above 30 is considered obese.

Another measuring unit that plays a big role in learning weight gain process is Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). BMR is the energy burned when resting and not what is burn from exercise or everyday activities. Each person has different BMR. Therefore, people with lower BMR burn fewer calories compared to those with higher BMR for the same amount of physical activity.

Medical Reasons for Weight Gain

Weight gain could be due to medical reasons, for which a physician should be consulted. If not addressed in time these might lead to obesity. Listed below are some of the medical reasons which result in excess weight gain.

  • Side effects of medications for hormone imbalance, antidepressants, steroids, certain medications for high blood pressure, diabetes, antipsychotic drugs.
  • Medical conditions, such as hypothyroidism, polycystic ovary syndrome, plantar fasciitis, Cushing’s syndrome, menopause.
  • Digestive issues which slow gut.
  • Nutritional deficiency leading to hormonal imbalance, lower metabolic rate and immune system or lack of energy making it hard to exercise and follow a proper diet.
  • Stress is noted to create a hormone called cortisol which increases appetite and at the same time stress might make people choose junk food and food high in calories and fat.
  • Depression may promote weight gain. Depression has been connected to eating disorders where people are likely to consume more junk or high-calorie food and reduction in physical activity.

Other Reasons for Weight Gain and Obesity

There are many other reasons which may lead to excess weight and may be controlled with simple lifestyle changes.

  • Genetics and heredity play a very important role in explaining the weight gain. People who have a family history of weight gain and obesity are more likely to gain weight.
  • Lack of Sleep leads to an increase in the hunger hormone ghrelin which leads to consumption of more calories than required, it is further noted that these calories are mostly from junk food.
  • Ageing which slows metabolism. As we age, we burn fewer calories than we used to. Therefore, a change in eating habits and exercise routines to adapt to the changing body systems is required. This could mean addition or removal of certain foods, change in workout regime and lifestyle habits.
  • Overeating even healthy foods like nuts, dark chocolate can be as dangerous as eating unhealthy junk food. So, the key here is portion control with healthy eating.
  • Dehydration can signal our body to consume more calories than it requires or retain water available in the body for other important body function and can lead to weight gain from fluid retention.
  • Consumption of excess calories due to performing regular exercises.
  • Consumption of unhealthy food (like processed food, sugary drinks, etc.) on a regular basis is a sure shot road to weight gain.
  • Physical activity is impaired due to certain pains like arthritis, a medical condition like stroke, etc.

The Solution

Along with Stroke, obesity also puts you at a higher risk for high blood pressure, many heart diseases, Type 2 Diabetes, Osteoarthritis, Infertility, Depression and certain respiratory problems. The solution lies in understanding your reason for weight gain and seeking an expert’s advice. Meanwhile, we are also coming up with a series of blogs on weight loss. Do come back to stay updated!

This Blog is contributed by Dr. Rimpy kanwar. She has more than 8 years of working experience in the field of Physical Therapy. Her expertise lies in ortho-neuro and Pulmonary rehabilitation cases. 

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