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Obesity: The silent Killer

Like the famous author, Yuval Noah Harari said: “Sugar is a greater danger than gun powder, you are more likely to die from drinking too much cola than being blown up by al-Qaeda.” It's very true as one main cause of death in the last few decades has been obesity and obesity-related diseases have killed more than a billion people, every year At least 2.8 million adults die each year as a result of being overweight or obese. 44% of the diabetes burden, 23% of the ischaemic heart disease burden, and between 7% and 41% of certain cancer burdens are attributable to overweight and obesity.

The Worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975.  In a report by WHO in 2016, it showed that almost 2 billion adults around the world were obese and around 340 million children and adolescents were obese. In India, too obesity has reached an epidemic proportion affecting more than 5% of its entire population even though India has one of the highest underweight populations in the word it’s also in the top 5 in terms of obesity this shows there is something wrong with the way we eat. Obesity is a serious problem and if not checked can become a serious danger to humanity but the good news is obesity is preventable.

But 1st let's understand what is obesity according to world Health organization Overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health. overweight is a BMI greater than or equal to 25 and obesity is a BMI greater than or equal to 30. BMI or body mass index is a simple index of weight-for-height that is commonly used to classify overweight and obesity in adults. It is defined as a person's weight in kilograms divided by the square of his height in meters (kg/m2).

The fundamental cause of overweight and obesity is the energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended that is if we eat more calories than we burn of we are store that energy and calorie as fats which will lead to weight gain fat deposition and obesity and globally, there has been an increased intake of energy-dense foods that are high in fat and sugars and a decrease in physical activity due to the increasingly sedentary nature of many forms of work, changing modes of transportation, and increasing urbanization.

Now the big question is how do we prevent this from happening the answer to it is simple “ increase your physical activity and eat fewer calories then you are burning if you are already overweight, and if you are healthy and in shape eat as many calories as you need not more”, but implementing and understanding how much calories you are consuming can get a little tricky and difficult nowadays as the food market is flooded with junk foods which are very calorie-dense, high in sugars and fats moreover there is an influx of misleading information about certain food which are labelled a healthy but in reality, they are just packed with calories which will make you fat.

So, to control our weight and calorie consumption we have to understand some basic things 1st we have to understand macro-nutrients Macronutrients are nutrients that provide calories or energy and are required in large amounts to maintain body functions and carry out the activities of daily life. There are three broad classes of macronutrient: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats and whatever we eat consists of either of these three or their combination and all of those are important and we need to have them in a balanced way to stay healthy but we also need to understand how much energy or calories does each of the macronutrients provide us like a gram of protein will give us 4 calories a gram of carbohydrate will prove us 4 calories and a gram of fat will give us 9 calories which makes fat the most calorie-dense macronutrient and that is why we must keep our fat intake in check, eating food which is high on fats can easily make us consume too many calories and if not utilized will get stored as body fat. Does that mean we can just skip fat and eat the other two well that’s also a not good idea as each macronutrient has its own function and a healthy diet must contain each one of them in proper proportions, but when it comes to obesity it's always helpful to eat food which has more protein and less of carbohydrate and fats as protein has lesser calories than fats, its more filling and will keep you satiated for a longer time, our body requires more calories to digest protein This is known as the thermic effect of food (TEF) The TEF refers to the number of calories needed by your body to digest, absorb and process the nutrients in your meals. Research shows that protein-rich foods increase TEF the most. For example, they increase your metabolic rate by 15–30%, compared to 5–10% for carbs and 0–3% for fats. So, if we eat protein-rich food there is a greater chance that it won't get stored as fat but still if we overeat and consume too many calories even through protein it is going to make us fat.

So next time when you visit the grocery store to get your food supplies to make sure you read the label understand the macronutrients and calories you are going to consume with each food item, don’t get caught up with the marketing gimmicks and possibly stay away from processed packed food, go for whole foods like fruits, vegetables, chicken, eggs, etc, but in the end, it’s the calories in and calories out that will matter.

- Hanif Mohammad
Amity University
Kolkata

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