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Weight Management for Adult Obesity Tips

November 12th, 2015

By Dr. Grant Reffell

Weight management is needed to combat adult diabetes

How bad is the adult obesity problem?

Over the past 25 years, obesity prevalence among adults has increased astronomically. In 1990, 10 US states had less than 10% obesity prevalence among their adult population. In 2010, no US states had less than a 20% obesity prevalence! Currently, the most obese state in the country is Arkansas, with an adult obesity rate of nearly 36%.

Illinois currently has about 3.8 million adults who are obese, about 29.3% of the state population. This prevalence rate puts our state near the middle of the list, as the 26th least obese US state/territory.

Adults who are obese have an increased risk for many different physical problems and ailments, including but not limited to:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Certain Types of Cancer (specifically endometrial, breast, colon, kidney, gallbladder, and liver)
  • Mental Illness
  • Body Pain
  • All Causes of Death

What is obesity?

According to the CDC, obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30. BMI is a measure of the ratio between a person’s height and weight, and is not designed to diagnose “fatness” or overall health.

As an example, a 5’9” adult who weighs 203 lbs. has a body mass index of 30 and is considered obese. If that same 5’9” adult lowered their weight to 165 lbs., they would have a BMI of approximately 24, and have a “healthy weight.” Ensuring that you are following good weight management practices is key to lowering you BMI.

Weight Management Tips

As each individual is different, their specific weight management needs are unique. Only a medical professional who specializes in the science of weight management can give you definitive weight management advice that is tailored to your specific needs. However, many experts agree that there are four key areas that need to be addressed in every weight management plan: sleep, stress, exercise, and diet.

Much has been written about diet and exercise, and your local weight management specialist can give you much more information about these two important parts in the fight against adult obesity. For now, we’re going to focus on the two aspects of weight management that are discussed far less than the others.

Sleep Management

It might seem odd to start by discussing proper sleep, but according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, proper sleep can be more important than even diet and exercise in your weight management regiment. In their study, they put a variety of people on the same diet, but adjusted the amount of sleep they received. Those with 7 hours of sleep or greater per night lost twice as much fat as people who slept for less than 7 hours. In addition, those with less sleep lacked energy to exercise, felt less satisfied after meals and were hungrier.

Here are 3 tips to help you get more sleep and better manage your weight. (source: https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-tools-tips/healthy-sleep-tips)

  • Set up a sleep schedule and stick to it, even on weekends. One of the easiest ways to get more sleep is to train your body’s internal clock that it’s time to sleep.
  • Optimize your sleeping space. Temperature, noise levels, light levels, and potential allergens can impact your sleep, making your nights more restless than they should be. Also, be sure that your bed and pillow are comfortable enough that you don’t dislike sleeping on them. Here are a few potential tools to correct any sleeping-space problems:
    • Setting your thermostat to the mid-60s
    • Blackout curtains or an eye mask
    • Ear plugs or white noise machine
    • Fans or humidifiers
    • Ensure that your mattress hasn’t exceeded its life expectancy
  • Wind down before bed. It is very difficult for most people to shift from high activity to rest. About an hour before bedtime, choose calming activities, such as reading or listening to relaxing music. Avoid screens (laptop, smartphone, tablet, TV, etc.) as the light from these screens can trick your brain into thinking that it should stay awake.

Stress Reduction

Work, family issues, financial struggles, and other life pressures can really get you feeling down. These same pressures, though, can get your weight up.

When feeling the stress, your body’s fight-or-flight floods your system with adrenalin and other hormones. These feelings stimulate your body to use more energy than normal, even if you are only sitting anxiously in your office chair.

While this increased energy use might seem like a good thing for weight management, the moment these initial hormones start to subside, your body kicks in its “recovery” hormones that make your body want to replenish its energy supplies as quickly as possible. Thus, you get hungrier, and eat calories that your body may not have really needed. These extra calories, in turn, get stored as “visceral fat” around your abdomen, contributing to adult obesity.

Here are 3 quick tips to reduce the effects of stress on your weight management plan.

  • Devote Time to Relaxation. By training your body to relax, no matter the outside circumstances, you can get out of “stress mode” quicker than those who don’t train their body. Some people choose meditation, yoga, deep breathing or prayer, but the important point is that you find an activity that helps you calm your mind and body.
  • Take Vitamins. Studies show that stress can reduce key vitamins in your body, such as some B and C vitamins, so taking a daily recommended multivitamin can help your body better manage stress, even if a stress attack occurs.
  • Reduce Caffeine Intake. Not only will caffeine dehydrate your body, caffeine can actually cause your blood sugar to drop, increasing your overall level of hunger. In addition, caffeine can increase “stress hormones” which could aggravate any stress-related weight gain problems you might be experiencing.

Improving your sleep, reducing the effects of stress, regular exercise, and a balanced diet are key components to every weight management plan. If you are currently obese, or if you are noticing unhealthy weight gain, be sure to discuss your weight management needs with a qualified weight management expert.

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