Category : World News
According to the World Health Organization, around 26% of women and 19% of men in Pakistan are affected by obesity. Rates are higher in urban areas (67% in women and 56% in men), than in rural areas. Adults are not the only ones affected; obesity in children is also growing, leading Pakistan to be ranked 9th in the list of 188 countries battling excess weight. The problem has led health professionals to recommend sensible weight loss for long-term success. Their studies have shown that one hidden obstacle when it comes to shedding pounds – is stress.
How Stress Causes Obesity to Spike
Research carried out by scientists at University College London and published in the journal Obesity, has found that exposure to higher levels of stress hormone, cortisol, for several months, is linked to people being more heavily, and more persistently, overweight. Previous studies had already shown that when we feel tense, we tend to have cravings for ‘comfort foods’ which are often high in sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats. What this new study shows, is that long-term stress is linked to having a higher Body Mass Index (BMI). Those classified as obese (i.e. having a BMI equal to or greater than 30), had particularly high levels of cortisol. The fact that chronic stress is associated with excess abdominal fat is particularly worrisome, since these larger waist measurements are linked to chronic and costly conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, and are linked to premature death.
Recommendations for Weight Loss
Recent research has also shed new light on how to lose weight. A sensible Mediterranean style diet with healthy fats (such as extra virgin olive oil), quality protein and a wide array of fruits and vegetables, can help prevent obesity, heart disease, and several types of cancer. When making fruit choices, select items which rate low on the glycaemic index, to keep blood glucose levels stable. Vegetarian diets have also proven to be almost twice as effective at reducing body weight as conventional low-calorie diets, since they improve the metabolism by reducing muscle fat.
A weight loss regimen should be accompanied by exercise. Cardiovascular workouts can help you burn fat, but they should be complemented by a strength/weights workout as well, to promote muscular strength, reduce the chance of premature death, and help prevent both cancer and heart disease. To reduce stress, meanwhile, yoga and mindfulness meditation are powerful allies.
To lose weight sensibly and keep it off long term, it is vital to prevent stress, since when our ‘fight or flight’ response is activated for too long, we tend to put on weight. Stick to a healthy diet, exercise regularly and don’t forget to boost your mental health through mindfulness based activities.