Obesity—What Is the Solution?
AWAKE! interviewed Diane, a dietitian, and Ellen, a registered nurse, who have both specialized in working with overweight and obese patients. They were in agreement that certain diets that concentrate on eliminating carbohydrates and increasing the intake of protein (meats) can lead to weight loss. However, they say that over the long haul, there can be negative secondary effects.* This is confirmed by a medical chart called Maintaining a Healthy Weight. It states: “Low-carbohydrate diets, especially if undertaken without medical supervision, can be dangerous.” It continues: “[They] are designed to cause rapid weight loss by promoting an undesirably high concentration of ketone bodies (a byproduct of fat metabolism).” If you are considering a low-carbohydrate diet, be sure to consult a doctor first.
If it is your goal to lose weight, do not despair. “Weight control isn’t impossible, nor does it need to mean deprivation or a boring, repetitious diet,” says Dr. Walter C. Willett. “With conscious effort and creativity, most people can successfully control their weight for the long term with an enjoyable but reasonable diet and near daily exercise. A longer, healthier life is definitely worth the effort.”*—Italics ours.
How Important Is Exercise?
Dr. Willett says: “Other than not smoking, exercise is the single best thing you can do to get healthy or stay healthy and keep chronic diseases at bay.” How often should one exercise? What are the benefits of physical effort?
Some experts advise that daily exercise, if only for 30 minutes, can be very beneficial. But it is suggested that even exercising three times a week can help one to avoid serious problems in the future. Exercise burns calories, and the predominant question for someone who is trying to lose weight should be, Each day am I burning up more calories than I am taking in? If the equation is reversed, then you will surely gain weight. So walk or cycle instead of riding in a vehicle. Climb stairs instead of taking the elevator. Exercise! Burn calories!
Dr. Willett explains: “For many people, walking is an excellent alternative to other types of physical activity because it doesn’t require any special equipment, can be done any time and any place, and is generally quite safe.” His advice, of course, refers to brisk walking, not just taking a stroll. He recommends 30 minutes of physical activity every day if possible.
Is Surgery the Best Solution?
In an effort to lose weight and to prevent future weight gain, some severely obese patients have followed the advice of bariatric (obesity) specialists who recommend various surgical procedures. Who might qualify for these surgical solutions? The writers of the book Mayo Clinic on Healthy Weight suggest the following: “Your doctor may consider surgery if your body mass index is above 40, an indication that you are severely obese.” (See the chart on page 5.) The Mayo Clinic Health Letter suggests: “Surgery for obesity is generally recommended only for people between the ages of 18 and 65 with a body mass index over 40 whose obesity is creating a serious medical risk.”—Italics ours.
What are some of these surgical procedures? They are small-bowel bypass, gastric partitioning, gastroplasty, and gastric bypass. This latter procedure involves stapling across the top of the stomach, leaving a small pouch that holds only about half an ounce of food. The small intestine is then cut and attached to this pouch. Thus, most of the stomach is bypassed as well as the duodenum.
Now, what about people who have lost excess weight? Was it worth the effort?
These include excessive iron levels in the blood, kidney problems, and constipation.
Dedicated Christians who want to use their lives in an acceptable way in God’s sacred service have more reason to lose weight and be healthy. Rather than die a premature death, they can thus spend more years of useful life in God’s service.—Romans 12:1.
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A Suggested Healthful Eating Pyramid
Sweets Concentrated or processed
sweets (rarely; limit to 75 calories
Fats Olive oil, nuts, canola oil, avocados
(3-5 servings daily; one serving is
1 teaspoon of oil or 2 tablespoons of nuts)
Protein and Dairy Beans, fish, lean meat, eggs,
low-fat dairy, cheese (3-7 servings daily; one
serving is 3 ounces of cooked meat or fish)
Carbohydrates Especially whole grains—pasta, bread,
rice, cereals (4-8 servings daily; one serving is a
slice of bread)
Fruits and Vegetables A wide variety of each (unlimited servings daily; a minimum of 3 each)
Awake! does not advocate any particular method of diet and weight control. It merely informs its readers of some of the options that are available. Individuals should consult with their physician before adopting any exercise or diet regimen.
Based on Mayo Clinic suggestions
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To lose weight, some have tried these tips:
1 Be aware of the calories in what you are eating and drinking. Note: Drinks can be a major source of calories, especially sweetened juices. Alcoholic drinks are also high in calories. And beware of those widely advertised soft drinks. Check the calorie count on the label. You might be shocked.
2 Avoid temptation. If chips, chocolates, or cookies are on hand, you will inevitably eat them! Replace them with low-calorie snacks, such as apples, carrots, whole-grain wafers.
3 Have a snack or an appetizer before eating a meal. It will take the edge off your appetite and may induce you to eat less.
4 Don’t eat everything put in front of you. Be selective. Reject what you know will give you too many calories.
5 Slow down. Why hurry? Enjoy your meal by noticing what you are eating—the colors, the flavors, the interaction of foods. Listen to the body’s signals that say, “I’m full. I don’t need any more.”
6 Stop eating before you feel full.
7 Restaurants in some countries are notorious for serving excessive portions. Leave half of your entrée behind, or share the plate with someone else.
8 Desserts are not essential to complete a meal. It is better to finish off with fruit or another low-calorie item.
9 Food manufacturers want you to eat more. Profit is their bottom line. They will try to exploit your weaknesses. Don’t be taken in by their clever advertising and pretty pictures. You can say no!
List adapted from the book Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy, by Dr. Walter C. Willett
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