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Healthy diet, physical exercise help in weight control

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Weight control encompasses all measures taken to ensure that the body weight is within the normal range. It has been recommended that the body mass index (BMI) of 18.5 to 24.9 kg/m2 be maintained to avoid health conditions associated with overweight. Health experts also advise that people should know their weight and height and calculate their BMI to know their status, so that they can quickly detect if they need to pay more attention to weight control.

Dr. Folu Olatona, a Specialist in Nutrition and Dietetics, Consultant Public Health Physician and Senior Lecturer at College of Medicine, University of Lagos, explained that BMI is an approximate measure of body fat, based on height and weight, and applies to adult men and women.

She said: “It is calculated by dividing weight in kilograms by the square of the height in metres. BMI is an important tool used to determine people’s nutritional status, as it helps to detect whether someone is underweight, overweight or obese.

“If an individual does not control his/her weight, he/she may become overweight or obese. Obesity can put the person at a higher risk of several diseases, such as hypertension, heart diseases, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, kidney stones, gallstones, respiratory problems, varicose veins, flat feet, premature ageing, among others.”

So, at what age should individuals begin to control their weight?
She said: “Weight control should start from birth and continue throughout life. Newborn babies should be given only breast milk for the first six months of life to avoid overweight, which may arise from taking excessive infant formula. Everyone should avoid processed food, and adults should be careful about eating too much of foods that are high in calories.

“Weight gain occurs, when there is an imbalance between the number of calories ingested and expended. If someone eats more than what the body needs, the excess will be stored as fat. This means that the two major methods of controlling weight are healthy eating and adequate physical activities and exercise.

“Healthy diet means choosing the right kind of foods, preparing them with healthful cooking methods, such as boiling rather than frying and controlling the portions consumed. It is important to drink between 2.5 to 3 litres of water and eat a wide variety of foods daily. Adults should eat at least five portions of fruits and vegetables daily; choose whole grains, legumes and nuts. They should also limit intake of salt, condiments and foods that are rich in fat, as well as avoid alcohol, sugar, carbonated soft drinks, pastries and other processed foods.

“People should observe the exercise recommendation of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per day for adults and one hour per day for children at least five days in a week. Aside planned exercise; everyone should also find opportunities to be active throughout the day.

“Aside healthy diet and exercise, adequate rest, sleep and stress management are also important in weight control. Some hormones are secreted during sleep that control appetite and weight.”

A Family Physician Dr. Chukwuma Ogunbor said physical exercise is helpful for weight loss and maintaining weight loss. He said: “Exercise can increase metabolism, or how many calories you burn in a day. It can also help maintain and increase lean body mass, which also helps increase number of calories you burn each day. Regular physical activity is important for good health, and is especially important, if you are trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. When losing weight, more physical activities increase the number of calories your body uses for energy or burns off.”

He noted that the best types of cardio workouts for weight loss include elliptical. The machines were originally designed to minimise impact on the knees and hips, but still allow a great workout, running (moderate pace), stair climber, jumping rope, kettle bells, cycling, swimming and rowing

“Current physical activity guidelines recommend 150 minutes or about 30 minutes, five times a week of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week. Specifically for weight loss purposes, many experts recommend longer durations of exercise – up to 60 minutes per day,” he explained. “Exercising while ignoring the dietary aspect is not a good weight-loss strategy.

“To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume or eat fewer calories than your body uses each day. If you do not have a caloric deficit, you will not lose weight. Do not eat sugar and avoid sugar-sweetened drinks. Rather, it is beneficial to eat more protein, which is a great long-term strategy to reduce belly fat. There is also need to cut carbs from the diet, while foods rich in fiber, especially viscous fiber, are better. Exercise is very effective way to reduce belly fat.”


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