Obesity is a complex disease which is defined as an abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health.
Body mass index (BMI) is a simple index of weight-for-height that is commonly used to classify overweight and obesity in adults. It is defined as a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of his height in meters (kg/m2) (Obesity and Overweight, n.d.).
DECRYPTING THE MYTHS
Misinformation or myths about obesity can lead to obesity stigma and weight bias. Shattering the myths with facts and evidence has been shown to be effective educational tools to reduce stigma and increase individual’s knowledge about certain conditions.
Myth 1: Poor lifestyle habits are the only cause of obesity
The fundamental cause of obesity is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended either through an increased intake of energy-dense foods that are high in fat and sugars or lack of physical activity due to the increasingly sedentary nature of many forms of work, changing modes of transportation, and increasing urbanization.
Most obesity programs blame obesity on poor diet choices and lack of physical activity. It’s common to hear that people with obesity are “lazy” or lack motivation.
Obesity is often multifactorial. There is no doubt that diet and lack of exercise plays an important role but there are several other factors that contribute to the increase in obesity.
Stress, anxiety, sleep health, hormonal imbalances, chronic pain such as in arthritis, can also lead to decreased activity, which may result in weight gain, underlying medical conditions, certain medications (antidepressants, antipsychotics, steroids, and beta-blockers), genetics, and multiple other environmental and economic factors are found to be source for contributing to the rise in obesity.
So, obesity isn’t merely the result of poor lifestyle habits (Barcy Amy, 2020).
Myth 2: Skipping breakfast makes you gain weight
Various studies on regular eating versus skipping breakfast, showed no effect on weight gain in both groups. Eating a healthy breakfast can help in managing the hunger later in the day so that over-snacking can be avoided. No scientific studies have shown that skipping the morning meal leads directly to weight gain.
If you are putting weight that indicates your calorie intake has increased without much changes in your physical activity. So listen to your body, eat only when you are hungry. if you choose either of the options, skipping or eating breakfast, it must be accompanied by appropriate physical activity(Casazza et al., 2013).
Myth 3: Reduce carbs to lose weight
Cut off simple carbs and include complex carbs in diet
Carbohydrates are of two types, simple and complex carbohydrates. simple carbs contain some amount of sugar, which quickly spike your blood sugar level and can ruin your weight loss effort. But complex carbs are good when you are trying to shed kilos as they keep you fuller for a longer period of time and you eat less unhealthy food items (Saris & Foster, 2006).
Myth 4: Eating at night will make you gain more pounds
People eat at night for a variety of reasons that often have little to do with hunger, from satisfying cravings to coping with boredom or stress. Consuming high-calorie foods (like chips, cookies, candy) can cause indigestion and sleeping problems which may lead to unhealthy cravings the next day (Gallant et al., 2014).
Myth 5: Setting Realistic Goals is the Best Approach to Successful Weight Loss
Several studies indicate that more robust goal setting with weight loss may result in even better than expected outcomes. Some people actually tend to lose more weight when they set goals that make them push themselves towards the weight loss journey.
Myth 6: Eating More Fruits and Vegetables Will Result in More Weight Loss
In their natural state, fruits and vegetables have high water and fiber content and are low in calories and energy density. Preliminary short-term studies found that eating low-energy-dense foods promoted feelings of being full, reduced hunger, and decreased energy intake regardless of how the food was changed to lower the energy density (such as reducing fat). In studies lasting longer than 6 months, weight loss was 3 times greater in persons who ate foods of low energy density (low in fat and high in fiber) than in those who simply ate low-fat foods. When aiming for weight loss, physical activity plays a crucial role, therefore diet restriction alone is not the best step forward(for Disease Control, n.d.).
Myth 7: It is good to lose gradually rather than rapidly
Various studies show that rapid initial weight loss (via low-energy diets) may actually be favorable for long-term outcomes in some overweight persons. But we have always heard that if a person loses weight too fast they will gain it back just as quickly, this because fat cells cannot be killed, it shrinks when we lose some weight so it has a tendency to gain back weight.
Researchers found that many overweight people tend to have meaningful early weight loss success, which they are able to ultimately sustain. It is okay to lose weight rapidly if you are following an appropriate diet and exercise regimen, with the help of a licensed supervisor. There is no fixed scale that helps you choose over-rapid or gradual weight loss(Kravitz Len, n.d.).
Myth 8: Having oil in the diet causes weight gain
Studies on oil have shown that fat is important as it improves the absorption of certain nutrients. This can be achieved through the consumption of whole sources such as nuts or seeds. Refined oils contain high fats, trans fats which may lead to weight gain but not all oils are bad, the right kind of fats and oils help quash hunger, maximize your metabolism, and speed nutrients through your body. So having olive oil, canola oil, walnut, and flaxseed oil will help in curbing appetite and prevent unnecessary calorie intake.
Use oil sparingly to avoid excess consumption in your diet. This will lead to healthy arterial function, weight loss, and improved health over time
NOTE: A healthy diet is achieved through complex biochemical processes which result in thousands of nutrients working synergistically in the body; It is not simply the result of consuming a substance which happens to be particularly high in 1 class of nutrient.
Dr. Manisha Panigrahi