Last Updated on September 6, 2019
Obesity is a common health problem that’s affecting millions of people around the world. Characterized by having a high percentage of body fat – and a body mass index (BMI) of 30 – obesity has become a considerable health problem here in the Philippines where 18 million Filipinos are believed to be either obese or overweight.
While the Philippines has a lower prevalence of obesity compared to its neighboring developed countries, this doesn’t dispel the fear of local health professionals that the disease is setting itself up to becoming a full-on epidemic if not properly managed.
Getting the obesity problem under control entails much more than telling everyone to get on a weight-loss diet. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) says it requires an integrated approach that includes three important things:
- First is promoting healthy eating habits and encouraging exercise
- Second is developing public policies that promote access to healthy, low-fat, high-fiber foods
- And lastly, training healthcare professionals so that they can effectively support people who need to lose weight and help others avoid gaining weight
On an individual level, there are a multitude of small but significant changes that you can do to help combat obesity.
Here are five things you can do to prevent obesity. These are simple, non-drastic steps that you can take to ensure that you continue to live a healthy life. More importantly, these are things that you can start NOW rather than later.
1. Avoid processed foods
Consumption of processed foods is linked to a higher risk of obesity. Foods that are high in fat, salt, and sugar are not only unhealthy but it also encourages overeating. So lay off the chips and start substituting water for soda for starters then start tweaking your diet to ensure that you integrate more whole foods and fresh fruits and vegetables to your meals and snacks.
2. Increase your physical activity
Healthy diet and physical activity always go hand-in-hand in decreasing the risk of obesity and even in combating it if you already are obese or overweight.
Exercise, even in moderate amounts, can go a long way in helping you keep the weight off. Aerobic activities like walking, hiking and dancing or more vigorous ones like running, swimming and cycling will increase your energy expenditure therefore helping you burn fat and increase your muscle weight.
3. Ensure that you’re getting enough sleep
Sleeplessness can lead to obesity in many different ways. According to Harvard University’s School of Public Health, people who lack enough sleep become too tired to exercise, decreasing the “calories burned” side of the weight-change equation. Sleep-deprived individuals may take in more calories, simply because they are awake longer and have more opportunities to eat. Moreover, sleeplessness also disrupts the balance of key hormones that control appetite, so people who lack sleep may be hungrier than usual.
4. Cut down on your screen time
Nowadays, almost everyone is guilty of spending too much time with their screens whether you’re playing mobile games or binge-watching your favorite shows on YouTube or Netflix. But the more time you spend in front of your phone, computer or television, the less opportunity you have to become physically active. Adding to that is the fact that your screen time can also affect the amount of sleep you get, depriving you of your much needed rest.
5. Visit your doctor’s office
Most people do not realize this, but a visit to your physician should be made out of habit and not out of need. If you’re concerned about weight-related health problems and you feel like you’re at risk of being obese, pay your doctor a visit and ask him or her about obesity management. You and your doctor can evaluate your current health condition, discuss health risks and look at your weight-loss options.