Obesity is one of the biggest health crises in the world, affecting 800 million people with millions more at risk, according to worldobesity.org. To spread awareness about the same and encourage action towards its elimination, World Obesity Day is observed every year on March 4. This year, the day will be celebrated with the theme ‘Everybody Needs to Act’.

The 2022 campaign is the third unified World Obesity Day when world obesity members and allies come together to call for change. Last year, the day was observed with the theme, ‘Everybody Needs Everybody’,’ which was a huge success, reaching hundreds of millions of people around the world.

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According to the World Health Organisation, obesity rates have nearly tripled since 1975 and have seen a significant increase of almost five times in children and adolescents. It is affecting people of all ages from all social groups, in both developed and developing countries.

Additionally, people with obesity also experience constant shaming and blaming by many due to the lack of awareness about the disease. As such, it is extremely crucial to spread awareness about obesity, which is steadily becoming the biggest health challenge worldwide.

Lifestyle changes to prevent and treat obesity

According to Dr Sanjay Khare, head, bariatric medicine, Apollo Hospitals, Navi Mumbai, “Lifestyle modifications for obese (BMI > 30 kg/m2), overweight (BMI 26 to 29 kg/m2), or people with comorbid conditions (diabetes, hypertension, OA, IHD etc.), include 3 major components, diet, exercise, and behaviour therapy.”

Dietary interventions

Stay away from crash or fad diets as they cannot produce long-term results. “Eating smaller portions, having very-low-calorie diets, and trying various combinations of foods are some of the mechanisms that can help you in weight loss.”

Agreed Yash Vardhan Swami, health and fitness educator, who said, “Controlling diet doesn’t mean you have to give up on rice, gluten and other food items as long as we are eating lesser calories than we are burning.”

Physical activity

Experts stressed the need for physical activity to achieve desired weight control target. “Weight control can be achieved with multiple short bouts (even for 10 minutes) of physical activity throughout the day. You should also gradually increase the time and intensity of exercises to gain strength and endurance over time,” Dr Khare said.

Physical activity doesn’t necessarily mean heavy and intense workout sessions, Swami said. ” A lot of obese people are scared of working out. They believe that they need to directly start with harder workouts. However, you can burn a lot of calories just by walking more.”

Behavioural therapy

Along with diet and exercise, behavioural therapy can go a long way in long-term weight management.

Explaining the concept, Dr Khare said, “It helps one to modify eating, physical activity, and thinking habits. It usually includes setting specific goals on when, where, how, and for how long you are going to engage in an activity. This approach of self-monitoring can help you to record, review, and analyse the results of your activity, thus helping in long-term weight management.”

Stress management and adequate sleep

Managing stress and ensuring adequate sleep is essential to remain healthy. “If we are sleeping enough, it will improve fat loss. Also, it will also reduce food cravings. It reduces our hunger hormone – ghrelin, and our satiety hormone – leptin,” Swami concluded.

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