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Obesity Causes and Prevention Strategies

Healthy Foods: Fruits & Veggies

For some individuals, excessive weight seems to set in from nowhere. Individuals frequently blame mysterious shrinking clothes for the initial onset of weight gain. The truth is that obesity is a threat to individual health and well-being. Between working extended hours and managing a household, there is often precious little time to worry about professional appearance while disregarding physical health. In the meantime, while many media outlets attempt to normalize obesity for profit, the medical community is working to help the public understand how to combat the disease and improve health conditions in America.

Obesity Among Adults

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) outlines obesity as an overly unhealthy weight relative to height. [1] The condition increases the likelihood of developing other health problems. Individual choice, environment and – to a lesser extent – genetics causes obesity, as well as some disabilities.
Physicians determine whether a patient is obese by measuring their body mass index (BMI), which is an individual’s body weight relative to their height. Adult BMIs over 30 indicate obesity. Additionally, the CDC defines children with BMIs in the 95th percentile or higher as obese.
While people grow obese for varied reasons, excessive calorie consumption due to variations in people’s diet, activity and metabolic rates primarily cause the condition. Genetics increases some patients’ likelihood to gain weight but is still manageable with an active lifestyle and a healthy diet. However, physicians do fault smoking and excessive weight during pregnancy as contributing to obesity in children.
Obesity is also triggered by poor sleep habits, which is a common theme in the United States. The work environment and other settings individuals occupy frequently also exert a major influence over eating and activity habits.

Promoting Weight-loss

Whether an individual is heavy or obese, there are ways to lose unhealthy weight. [3] The tactics include the same steps followed when working toward losing weight; regular exercise, dieting and consistent healthy habits help individuals lose excessive weight.

Consistent, moderate activity produces weight-loss among adults and children. Physicians recommend 30 to 45 minutes of moderate weekly activity three to five days per week. Successful weight-loss candidates often surround themselves with active individuals who maintain healthy lifestyles.

A low-calorie, nutrient rich diet staves off obesity. Conversely, frequently consuming saturated fats, sugary foods and alcohol increases an individual’s chances of gaining weight. Physicians recommend three daily balanced meals with light snacking in between. Foods containing high fat and calories are not off-limits but recommended only as occasional treats. A diet that consists of mostly healthy foods results in an acceptable BMI.

For dietary planning, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) maintains an interactive dietary tool on the website ChooseMyPlate.com. The website assists individuals with meal-planning, healthy recipes and grocery shopping tips. ChooseMyPlate.com also maintains a list of healthy eating cookbooks.

The Mayo Clinic labels situations triggering excessive eating as food traps and recommends a journal to record meal times and items, as well as emotions during meals, as a tool to track dietary habits. After maintaining the journal for a while, weight loss candidates review their entries to discover their dietary patterns and develop plans to avoid unhealthy eating.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends planning as a tool to avoid eating traps. However, the organization focuses on events rather than record keeping. For instance, the group recommends proactively maintaining a healthy diet during family gatherings and vacations.

Some individuals practice self-monitoring to prevent or remedy obesity. [4] By tracking their own progress, they encourage themselves to maintain healthy habits. The practice involves recording diet and physical activity and receiving feedback on this information from others, such as physicians or personal trainers. Using written or online food diaries, obese individuals track and research the reasons behind their unhealthy eating habits.

Helping Patients Overcome Obesity

Obese patients also use technology to lose weight. Low cost pedometers help individuals track their daily step counts, while high-end and expensive metabolic devices accurately interpret daily calorie burns. Handheld calorie counters and scales are other tools used to track weight-loss progress.

Diabetes sufferers are at increased risk for obesity. To help combat the condition among those diagnosed with diabetes, insulin manufacturer Novo Nordisk advocates a renewed approach to dealing with patient obesity on its RethinkObesity.com website. The service instructs caregivers on how to approach a weight-loss discussion effectively with at-risk patients and suggests interventions in this regard that take place over time as opposed to a one-off conversation. The literature also highlights how health care professionals can prepare themselves to motivate obese patients toward maintaining healthier lifestyles.

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Sources:
[1] http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandhealth/obesity.html
[2] https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-causes/
[3] http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/obesity/basics/prevention/con-20014834
[4] http://www.obesityaction.org/wp-content/uploads/Self-monitoring.pdf