It is very well known that very many people in western countries are overweight, some grossly so, but it seems that many people are puzzled as to why this is and what they can do about it.
In general terms a person will tend to become gradually overweight if he or she takes in more calories per day than are expended during the daily activities of life. The excess calories are converted to fat which is stored in the body and gradually accumulates over time. This is probably a mechanism which could have served our ancestors well, for living in an age where food was much scarcer than today it would have been an asset to early man to be able to store energy reserves in times of plenty against the inevitable periods of famine. Today though this physiological trait tends to work against us as we are able to afford mostly as much food as we want and many of us eat more than we really need, and, more importantly, more of the wrong kinds of food.
The daily energy requirement for a person today is also on average, a good deal less than it used to be. Generations ago it was commonplace for both men and women to work long hours at physically demanding jobs, expending a good deal of energy in the process. Today we sit at office desks all day long, ride in cars and trains, and generally strain ourselves very much less.
It is difficult for some, in this day and age, to eat healthily as they may not have the time or the inclination as ready meals are so available, to prepare and cook fresh vegetables and meat. Statistics show that in this country during the second world war people actually consumed a far more healthy diet than they do today,relying as they did on little protein and a preponderance of vegetables. When you consider the reliance of today’s generation on fast foods, takeaways,and ready prepared meals from supermarkets, topped up with lashings of everyday snacks such as crisps, cakes, biscuits fizzy drinks and the like it is easy to see how many people consume far more calories per day than they need.
The blame for a lot of this must lie with the food manufacturers who are concerned with their profits and tempt people with advertising and attractive packaging to buy ready made foods rather than than fresh products. The whole scenario is somewhat similar to the tobacco industry where, for a long time the clout of commercial interests was stronger than the perceived health threat, only with our modern junk foods the health threat is more insidious and less obvious.
The only way forward I believe, is education. The government makes only token efforts to educate the public in healthy eating habits and we must therefore educate ourselves.
So, if you accept that you need to lose weight to improve your looks and safeguard your health you must seek to reduce your daily calorie intake and increase your daily exercise a bit. You should start by reducing your intake foods that are obviously high in refined carbohydrates ( if you can’t cut them out substitute low GI carbs) and foods that are high in fat and carbohydrate combined, as are so many of the ready prepared and junk foods on offer.
If you must have a snack try nuts or dried fruits instead of crisps or biscuits, and, try to drink more wate during the day.
If you are serious about losing weight you will probably need to go further than this and begin a proper diet or weight loss programme. I hope to cover more on this in due course.
It is not impossible to lose weight if you eat sensibly and don’t expect too much too soon.
Author Rob Esmund is a retired dentist with an interest in nutrition and weight loss,the latter stemming from many years of second hand experience with his wife’s dieting attempts, coupled with independent research. More information on weight loss at my blog http://www.weightloss-whatreallyworks.blogspot.com