Three factors are externally responsible for obesity and obesity control. These are:

Nutrition: Certain foods, such as refined carbohydrates and unsaturated fats, contribute the most to obesity

Medicine: Certain prescription medicine, including anti-depressants, steroids, contraceptives, medications for diabetes, hypertension, migraines, seizures, bipolar disorder, allergies, insomnia, and a host of others, are associated with weight gain.

Sleep: Disrupted sleep or sleep less than 7 hours or more than 9 hours can lead to obesity. Difficulty in breathing can also be a reason for disturbed sleep.

Obesity is a complex disease. It appears as a polygenic condition. It is affected by environmental factors (mainly unbalanced dietary patterns and physical inactivity). We will have to consider genetic factors in the fat reduction process. These are associated with a negative energy balance. (Martinez et al., 2008)

Weight loss solutions, therefore, should be recommended only after a thorough clinical review. My research does not support instant solutions- like vigorous exercises, diet plans, medication, and herbal solutions.

To my mind, the dietitian’s role comes into play only after completing a thorough clinical examination. Remember, obesity is a disease that requires full attention and treatment. Before starting any exercise or diet regime, it is essential to address the causes of the condition first.

Diet planning is best done in consultation with an expert. The expert should not just be able to recommend a weekly diet chart for you. The expert should be able to help you fix short-term and long-term goals and help put a self-monitoring mechanism in place. Behavior and motivation are critical to achieving weight-loss goals and require integration into a weight-loss regime.

Several popular diets promoting claims of dramatic weight loss exist in the market. The popular diets are- Paleo, Vegan, Low carb, Dukan, Ultra Low fat, Atkins, HCG, Zone, Weight Watchers, Intermittent Fasting, and Ornish, to name some of them. The multiplicity of diets has the weight loss enthusiast confused. Proponents of each diet claim that their recommendation is the best for you.

Diet plans, in general, provide structure and discipline to eating. Reducing half a kilogram a week is possible by reducing daily calorie consumption by 500 calories. Low-carb and very low-carb diets may lead to faster weight loss, but studies have shown that over an extended period of 12 to 24 months, the benefits from such low-carb diets are not very large.

A diet rich in protein and low in carbohydrates may offer a slight advantage. Extra protein keeps you full longer, making you eat less and reducing your total food intake. Most diets improve blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Low-carb diets help improve high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood compared to moderate-carb foods.

Rapid cutting down on carbs can have temporary health effects like headaches, bad breath, weakness, muscle cramps, fatigue, skin rash, constipation, or diarrhea. Low-carb diets may not necessarily be the right choice for weight loss for preteens and high schoolers. Their bodies need nutrients from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, which are cut in a low-carb diet.

Obesity is a severe threat to our society, and the debate should not be about the best diet for weight loss but disease prevention. The consistent finding among various trials is that weight loss and improvement in disease-related outcomes are dependent on the degree to which participants continue in a program of their choice to meet their goals. Progress in obesity management will be associated with adherence to lifestyle changes, including diet and physical activity. (Pagoto et al., 2013)

Additional reading:

Natural Solutions for Obesity

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