EXPLAINED: On World Obesity Day, let's train our youth for a healthier tomorrow
March 4 is observed as World Obesity Day every year. Obesity is turning into a global epidemic with each passing year. Even though we all talk about making healthy food choices and getting some physical activity to stay healthy, not a lot of us practice these things. The reason most often being hectic and busy lives where we try to pack in work, family, and some me time. With the ever-increasing food apps, ordering a quick snack has become easier than ever. So after a hectic day at work, many people tend to turn the easy way and end up filling themselves with a greasy snack.
Our youth is also taking this route as a lot of them have grown into a world where long working hours are the norm, leaving them with little time to work out or cook a healthy meal.
"The root cause of obesity is multi-fold. There are many factors that negatively impact our metabolic pathways and when the collective burden of these factors overloads our metabolic system, it breaks down and this manifests as obesity or some other metabolic disease like diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease," Functional Nutritionist Mugdha Pradhan, who is also the CEO and Founder of iThrive, told media.
A new study by the World Obesity Federation warns that more than half the world's population will be classified as obese or overweight by 2035. The report says that over four billion people will be affected, with children being the worst hit.
So the problem needs to be addressed at the root level. Kids need to be made aware of healthy food choices. Their lifestyle needs to be moulded around the idea of becoming healthy, and not giving in to the idea of overworking themselves while compromising on their health. Mobile phones and gaming devices have meant that kids don't play outside as much, depriving them of all-important physical activity. They aren't exposed to the sun as much, leading to weaker bones.
"The average modern urban lifestyle is a health hazard chamber consisting of a lifestyle that is highly sedentary, locked indoors, away from the sun-food environment consisting of highly processed foods, toxins in our air, water, and household products, nutrient-depleted soil, just to name a few," Mugdha says.
All we need to do is make an effort that we as adults and our kids make healthier choices. Instead of ordering fast food, cook something that won't take as long to cook, and is yet healthy, such as porridge, khichdi, dal rice, etc. Prepping meals for the entire week is another popular option that people are going for lately. There are several YouTube videos that can help you prep some meals that simply need 5-10 minutes to get ready during meal time.
Is fat-free healthy?
Avoid falling for the fat-free trend as most packaged foods aren't really healthy, despite saying so on the packet. "Just becoming more aware and not falling for fraudulent health products is key to maintaining good metabolic health because the health market is saturated with bad products and bad advice," Pradhan says.
Exercising in combination with healthier food choices will not only help you maintain good body fat but also make you feel nice and energetic.
Getting enough sleep is also the key to avoiding obesity. When you don't get a good night's sleep, you tend to put on weight. This is because when you don't get enough sleep, you create a hormone imbalance in the body that promotes overeating and weight gain. Studies suggest that you also tend to choose high-fat food when you are sleep deprived. Lack of sleep leads to growth hormone deficiency and elevated cortisol levels, both known to promote obesity.
Similarly, when children don't get enough sleep, they also take a step towards obesity. Increased screen time often means that kids don't go to sleep at a reasonable hour, leading to sleep deprivation.
"Eating healthier, whole nutrient-dense foods, avoiding processed and inflammatory foods, monitoring your health markers, working out and maintaining good muscle mass, getting sunlight and maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm, and avoiding toxins are simple steps to maintain good metabolic health," Mugdha says.
Don't fall for marketing gimmicks
There are certain things that you can do at the community level as well. While buying food, read the label and don't pick up items simply because they have been marked as "healthy". You will find that the market is full of food items targeted at people aiming to become healthy. But it doesn't necessarily mean that every such food item is healthy. If you are not careful, they might end up making you gain weight.
"We strongly believe in the practice of 'voting with our wallet'. Educating yourself and making the right choices as a consumer is the most effective way to help the community. Malicious corporations that make a profit at the cost of your health and the environment cannot do so without your consent and would go bankrupt without it," Mugdha says.
So this World Obesity Day, let's promise to not only work to make ourselves healthy but also gift our youth with a healthier future.