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What are the Implications of Body Fat? (Overweight, Underweight, Prevention & Disease)

Implications of Underweight, Overweight, & Obese On Our Health

There are risks when it comes to managing weight. Being underweight is a concern because excessively underweight people are more at risk to die from starvation. They lack body fat and nutrient reserves which can lead to extreme deterioration and death especially when trying to combat sickness or disease (Sizer and Whitney, 2017).

Conversely, being overweight or extremely overweight, which is called obese, can also has health risks which can lead to disease and death. Research suggests that “risk of dying increases proportionally with increasing body weight” (Sizer and Whitney, 2017). Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, certain cancers, hypertension, stroke, arthritis, sleep apnea, lack of mobility, and body pain are just some of the things that we put ourselves at risk for when we neglect our bodies and become overweight (Sizer and Whitney, 2017).

Preventive Measures We Can Take

Underweight individuals can die from starvation due to lack of body fat and nutrients. It is suggested that they “gain body fat which acts as an energy reserve and to acquire protective amounts of all the nutrients that can be stored” (Sizer and Whitney, 2017). Overweight individuals that are at risk for multiple health issues should begin to monitor their caloric intake and output. Food is energy, but each one of us needs different amounts depending on our lifestyle. As a truck driver I require many less calories, “energy in” than that of an athlete because my “energy out” is much less due to sitting the majority of the day.

5 Characteristics of Healthy Diet

A nutritious diet is a habitual eating plan with 5 Characteristics:

  1. Adequacy: knowing that the foods have adequate nutrients, fiber, and energy.
  2. Balance: when food choices are balanced by including all types of nutrients.
  3. Calorie Control: food choices that give the body just the right amount of energy to maintain a healthy weight.
  4. Moderation: choosing foods that are not overly fat, salty, sugary, or otherwise unhealthy.
  5. Variety: keeping a pattern of eating that includes multiple types and styles of foods.

Diets that follow the A, B, C, M, V principles are more likely to be nutritious and provide the body with balance and a steady supply of nutrients.

Stages of Diet Behavior Change

There are six stages of behavior change represented in the Transtheoretical Model (TTM): Pre-contemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action, Maintenance, and Termination. The helpful list below explains the different stages (Sizer & Whitney, 2016).

The Stages of Behavior Change Stage Characteristics & Actions

Pre-Contemplation

Not considering a change; have no intention of changing; see no problems with current behavior.

Collect information about health effects of current behavior and potential benefits of change.

Contemplation

Admit that change may be needed; weigh pros and cons of changing and not changing.

Commit to making a change and set a date to start.

Preparation

Preparing to change a specific behavior, taking initial steps, and setting some goals.

Write an action plan, spelling out specific parts of the change. Set small-step goals; tell others about the plan.

Action

Committing time and energy to making a change; following a plan set for a specific behavior change.

Perform the new behavior. Manage emotional and physical reactions to the change.

Maintenance

Striving to integrate the new behavior into daily life and striving to make it permanent.

Persevere through lapses. Teach others and help them achieve their own goals. (This stage can last for years.)

Adoption/Moving On

The former behavior is gone, and the new behavior is routine.

After months or a year of maintenance without lapses, move on to other goals.

Knowing what stage one is in personally is beneficial to assess individual nutrition, health, and wellness goals. One study on adolescents who used the TTM to change nutrition behavior found that TTM is a “successful strategy for nutritional intervention aiming at improving dietary intake in adolescents. Its application in different contexts shows that the TTM is flexible and possible to be implemented in many settings” (Nakabayashi et al., 2020). Understanding where one is on the health journey is the first step to getting to where one wants to be.

Self-awareness plays a crucial role in personal nutrition because recognizing health problems in the body, such as a calcium deficit, can be complex. One way to keep track of goal progress in nutrition is to “take stock” of your food intake over several days (Sizer & Whitney, 2016). Once a weakness or problem is recognized, small goals can be set to correct it, and improved results can be obtained (Sizer & Whitney, 2016). The best thing to do is to start now. Think of life as a personal nutrition science experiment, begin a study of oneself, analyze the results and make changes to eliminate problems so that one is left living within the healthiest possible body and mind.

Nutrition & Common Health Conditions

Food is energy and nutrition for the human body, but too much or too little non-nutritious foods can lead to disease. Food that is over-processed and high in saturated fat, salt, and sugar can lead to obesity because those foods are easy to overeat. Obesity contributes to adverse health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and cancer (Sizer and Whitney, 2017).

Diet and lifestyle modification can lower the risk of these diseases by reducing or eliminating contributing factors such as high blood pressure, malnutrition, and diabetes. Reducing amounts of sodium, trans-fats, alcohol, and sugar while also increasing physical activity will go a long way in minimizing the risks of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and cancer (Sizer and Whitney, 2017).

Nutrition & Physical Activity

Research suggests that people who participate in regular, long-term physical activity report feeling happier, show increased cognitive function, lower their risk for multiple diseases, have increased mobility, less bodily pain, more energy, and live longer (HBO Documentary Films, 2012). Physical activity of any kind, even studying, takes energy supplied to and by the body in the form of calories (Sizer and Whitney, 2017). The healthier we eat, the better the nutrition we will digest, and the more effectively and efficiently the body will use the vitamins and minerals from our food to convert into energy for activities.

Summary

This blog proved through the combination of various elements of nutrition science that behavior change is possible when it comes to personal diet. Humans should be aware of their nutrition habits and how food choice can impact their health and risk of disease. The building blocks of food are the same ones that we become after eating and digesting those foods. The materials are chemically changed and used within the body for energy on a daily basis. Filling the body up with energy fuel is a balance that can be achieved through the A, B, C, M, V diet principles. Although the studies and science of nutrition are relatively new, people should not be disheartened by the changing results and knowledge. Instead, we should acknowledge and embrace the scientific process while recognizing where we are personally in the process of our own behavior change and be willing to make changes that eliminate the results of disease and poor health both physically and mentally. Nutrition will always be a changing field, just like any science, but seeking continuous education will make anyone prepared for nourishment for a lifetime.

Stay MOTOvated!! Live MOTOvated!!

References

Nakabayashi, J., Melo, G. R.-I., & Toral, N. (2020). Transtheoretical model-based nutritional interventions in adolescents: a systematic review. BMC Public Health, 20(1), 1543. https://doi-org.proxy-library.ashford.edu/10.1186/s12889-020-09643-z

Sizer, F., & Whitney, E. (2017). Nutrition: Concepts and controversies (14th ed.) [E-book]. Cengage Learning. https://content.ashford.edu/books/Sizer.2199.17.1/

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