Obesity rates have nearly tripled since 1975 and have increased almost five times in children and adolescents, affecting people of all ages from all social groups in both developed and developing countries. Obesity is a major risk factor for various noncommunicable diseases like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, stroke and various forms of cancer. (www.who.int)
Obesity is often due to a complex mixture of lifestyle, genetic, psychological, economic and other factors. Dietary factors include high intake of calories, especially from fat, sugar, ultra-processed foods and refined foods. Tackling obesity at various levels and in synergy might help to reduce the burden of its effects. The following diagram taken from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4333683/ helps to understand better.
Here are some tips to tackle obesity through food options at the individual level –
- Include whole grains like minimally polished rice, wheat, millets, maize and so on. Avoid refined grains like white rice, white bread, maida and maida products.
- Use pulses and dals in any two meals of the day.
- Increase the intake of fresh vegetables and fresh fruits. Let half your meal plate be made of vegetables in at least two meals of the day.
- Replace refined and / or fried snacks with a fresh fruit or a handful of nuts.
- Ensure that you are adequately hydrated every day.
- Reduce the use of oil, fatty foods, fried foods, oily gravies, sugar, sweeteners, sugar-sweetened beverages, desserts, sweets, processed meats and ultra-processed foods.
- Meet a qualified dietitian to help you with the right quantity and quality of foods that suit you the best.
March 4 is observed as World Obesity Day. The theme for 2022 is “Everybody Needs to Act” (www.worldobesity.org)
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