Last week I went to measure my weight, blood pressure and also did a general body checkup. I was told that although I weigh only 61 kg’s, I have three extra kilograms of fat or cholesterol which I should shed off. I honestly don’t understand how I can have all that extra fat yet when I look at myself; my weight seems normal. How do I lose these ‘extra fats’ without losing too much weight?
Pamela, 24, Kicukiro
Weight as such is considered significant in relation to height. The BMI (Basal Metabolic Index) that determines whether a person is healthy or not is calculated by using both height and weight. There is an average expected weight for height, which I think is more in your case. You may be not obese or fat to look at but as per that scale of height and weight, it may be more.
You have not mentioned your results for cholesterol, whether it is normal or high. Because one may have a normal body weight but fats i.e. lipids in the blood including cholesterol may be high because the fats increase due to genetic and life style factors including diet and exercise.
Not all kinds of fat are bad. There is HDL (high density lipoproteins) which is good for the body as it protects the heart. LDL is bad lipid as high levels of LDL increase risk of heart problems.
If you are feeling comfortable and good and have no health issues at hand, there is nothing to worry about. As such, at your age you are not prone to high blood pressure or heart problems.
But you have to be cautious from now on. Do not let the weight increase more. Weight can be maintained easily by taking the correct diet and adequate amount of physical exercise.
Avoid taking sugar and sugar-based items like cakes and chocolates. Things like cheese, butter, margarine and deep fried foods like chips all increase body weight as well as blood cholesterol and have no nutritional value for the body.
Eggs are rich in protein but also have very high cholesterol content, hence should be used in moderation only. Alcohol is also a big culprit in this issue; it increases fat both outside and also over the lining of blood vessels. It aggravates diabetes and increases risk of hypertension and heart attacks. One should take more fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, cereals, milk without cream, curds and fish.
Regular exercise is vital to keep the optimum body weight. Brisk walking, light jogging, aerobics, swimming and yoga are all good exercises. But it would be beneficial only if done daily or at least for 30 minutes, 3 times a week. When you sit for long, fat tends to be deposited around the hips and abdomen.
This kind of central obesity (developing a paunch) is one of the major risk factors for metabolic syndrome, where body cells become resistant to amount of insulin present in the body leading to diabetes and many related problems. Hence try moving about and be physically active during the day.
Dr Rachan Pande is a specialist - internal medicine Ruhengeri Hospital