Even the latest med technology can’t completely cure one of the nation’s most urgent health problems: obesity. More than 42% of American adults are obese, with rates steadily growing. That’s over 4 out of 10 people—significantly higher than a decade ago, when no state had an adult obesity rate over 35%. Yet while this problem is multifactored and will take many interdisciplinary solutions to solve completely, there is one simple, vital step almost everyone can take to lower their risk: a balanced diet.
But why exactly is this a vital strategy for you to adopt? Read on to learn more about what obesity is, how it impacts your health—and how a balanced diet can help mitigate the effects of this condition.
Obesity and your health
Obesity is the excess of fat. Though often confused with being overweight, the body mass index (BMI) classification system—which determines how your weight measures compared to your height—shows a significant difference between overweight vs obesity. You’re considered overweight or pre-obese if you have a BMI of 25 to 29.9, and obese if you reach a BMI of 30. Though both overweight and obese individuals risk developing heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes, obesity is more likely to result in more severe conditions like stroke, fatty liver disease, and even cancer. This is a serious issue, and one of the best ways to address it is through your diet.
How a healthy diet addresses obesity
The amount you eat affects your weight
Your body burns calories through energy expenditure, which happens whenever you do any physical activity—exercising in the gym, walking down a hallway, or simply moving your hands. However, if you consume more calories than you burn, you end up storing that extra energy as fat. This makes your meal’s portion sizes a critical factor in your obesity risk. When determining the right meal size for you, keep in mind that the number of calories you consume should be approximately the same as how many calories your body burns.
Whole foods help you digest more slowly
It’s not merely the quantity of food that counts but the quality of it. Some foods are better for maintaining a healthy weight. Generally, these are whole foods—foods that are “real” or as close to their natural state as possible. These can take the form of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats. While whole foods can grant you the same amount of calories as processed foods, they contain more fiber and have a milder effect on blood sugar levels than processed foods do. That means your body will digest them more slowly, you’ll feel full for longer, and you’ll find it easier to control your food intake and your weight.
Healthy fats prevent weight gain and disease
Contrary to popular belief, consuming fats isn’t what causes obesity. There are actually different kinds of fats. Trans fats and saturated fats are usually what you have to watch out for, as eating them often leads to an increased risk of clogged arteries, heart disease, and weight gain. You usually find them in foods like meat, butter, and cheese. Meanwhile, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in vegetable oils and fish lower your risk of disease and weight gain. Your diet should have fats, but prioritize the more beneficial type.
What a balanced diet looks like
The key to obesity prevention is not a restrictive diet low in fat, calories, and fun, but a sumptuous balanced diet you enjoy. It should be rich in different kinds of foods, from sweet strawberries and wild rice to chicken breasts. It should also grant you the proteins, minerals, and vitamins you need to thrive. To achieve this kind of diet, monitor your proportions. Ideally, your calorie intake should comprise 60-70% of carbohydrates, 10-12% of protein, and 20-25% of fat. This meal set-up will allow you to feel energized and get a handle on your weight.
Your diet is a significant factor in preventing obesity. Ensure it’s optimized to keep you at a healthy weight.