Too soon to give up on obesity

For long, obesity was considered a disease of the wealthy. As the rich spent days crying about related outcomes such as hypertension and fatigue, the poor remained confident that trouble would not hit so soon.

For long, obesity was considered a disease of the wealthy. As the rich spent days crying about related outcomes such as hypertension and fatigue, the poor remained confident that trouble would not hit so soon.

But now, the trend has changed. Obesity has evolved to torture both the rich and the poor.

 

From more than 1 billion adults who are overweight around, at least 115 million people in developing countries suffer from problems arising from obesity. 

 
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Dr Ian Shyaka.

Worryingly, many children suffer from obesity just like the adults. About 42 million children around the world were obese in 2013, according to statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO).

 

Despite several interventions and campaigns about this lifestyle disease, Obesity continues to be a problem among Rwandans.

In female adult obesity stands at 6.6 per cent, an increase from 5.2 per cent in 2010. Around 1.2 percent of adult males in the country are obese but this also increased from 1.0 per cent four years ago.

When to tell that you are obese

Gaining excess weight is simple but losing it is quite a task.

Surprisingly, people only think about losing weight when it starts to interfere with their well-being.

Despite attracting a lot of criticism from a section of the public, BMI measurements are currently the most acceptable approach towards determining obesity. 

The BMI can be used to identify whether individuals are underweight, normal, overweight or obese. 

It is calculated as a fraction of the total body weight in Kilogrammes over the square of their height in meters.

BMI less than 18.5 indicates that the person is underweight; while that between 18.5 and 24.9 shows that someone is normal. Overweight individuals have a BMI between 25 and 29.9.Anything beyond the BMI of 30.0 indicates that someone is obese.

Since it applies to individuals between 18 and 65, other procedures could be required to accurately determine whether one is obese.

These include measurements of the body fat ratio or the extent of fat deposits around the upper arm circumference or depressions created by a simple finger press on the tummy.

Dealing with obesity

It is important to understand that obesity is a reversible disease that can be managed.

After individuals committing to weight loss, it is advisable that meals should be made of fewer carbohydrates and fats as a way to reduce calorie intake.

Instead more vegetables and fruits should be consumed. Such diets should be accompanied by drinking plenty of water.

The other thing people need to understand about reversing obesity is that weight loss should start slowly. Individuals can start with simple exercises such as walking, dancing or jogging.

Dr Ian Shyaka is a General Practitioner in Rwanda.

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