Mon | Jan 21, 2019

The Tranquil Way

Published:Tuesday | September 20, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Obesity is an ever-increasing problem worldwide with all the attendant problems, not only in developed nations but also in developing countries. The authorities are facing serious challenges slowing down its increasing prevalence. But what is really responsible for obesity?

Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of greater than 30. The BMI is calculated from a person's height and weight and is ideally between 20 and 25. If the BMI is between 26 and 30, that is considered as being overweight. Being obese or overweight usually means that there is an excess of fat on an individual.

The 'obvious' cause of being overweight or obese is consuming too many calories and not getting enough exercise. It now seems that there is more to it than first thought. There are many persons who practise significant dietary restrictions and even get reasonable exercise but still don't lose weight, and may even continue to put it on.

Recent research has been pointing to another factor in the development of obesity, and that is inflammation. This would explain the association of obesity with other conditions caused by inflammation, such as hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, depression and arthritis. Inflammation is produced by the immune system when it is triggered by various factors. Some of these factors have internal sources and some have external. An imbalance in the intestinal bacteria is an internal factor contributing to inflammation. External factors include certain foods, cleaning chemicals, sunlight and dust.


One researcher said the process of putting on weight causes us to eat more. This is because inflammation puts our bodies into a fat-storing mode and can also increase the appetite. The faster food is absorbed into our bodies, the more inflammation is produced; so you find that foods with a high glycaemic index tend to cause us to put on weight, such as processed and sweetened foods. Also, foods that trigger inflammation, such as animal and/or cooked fats (especially when used for frying), dairy products and wheat products, tend to contribute to the weight gain as well.

Exercise, proper rest, periods of fasting, whole grains, uncooked plant-based fats (oils), seeds, legumes, fruits (including dried), vegetables, nuts, ground provisions and probiotic (and other) supplements reduce inflammation when the appropriate amounts are utilised. So if you are having difficulty losing weight or keeping it off, then you may need to reduce your inflammation.