Obesity prevention can go a long way in boosting your defense against a number of major diseases, including heart disease and some forms of cancer. While following a healthy diet and exercising regularly are the most effective ways to achieve and maintain a normal weight, certain alternative therapies may also be beneficial when it comes to obesity prevention.
Obesity Risk Factors
Obesity is defined as having a body mass index of 30 or higher. In general, obesity occurs when you consume more calories than you use. Although some obesity risk factors (such as genetics and age-related hormonal changes) can't be controlled, it's possible to modify the following risk factors as you strive for obesity prevention:
- unhealthy diet
- lack of physical activity
- insufficient sleep
- poorly managed stress
The Importance of Obesity Prevention
By focusing on obesity prevention, you'll likely reduce your risk for these obesity-related health problems:
- heart disease
- type 2 diabetes
- high blood pressure
- gallbladder disease
- breast cancer
- colon cancer
- cancers of the kidney, uterus, esophagus, and gallbladder
Obesity Prevention Strategies
Sticking to a weight-management plan that pairs healthy eating with regular exercise is the best approach to obesity prevention.
In order to create a healthy diet, try these tips from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Agriculture:
- eat a wide variety of vegetables and fruits
- choose low-fat dairy products over the full-fat variety
- opt for whole grains (instead of refined-grain products like white bread)
- get your protein from beans, nuts, seeds, and/or lean meats and poultry
- cut back on saturated fat and salt
For your fitness routine, aim for two and a half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (such as brisk walking) or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous aerobic physical activity (such as jogging or fast cycling) each week. In addition, you should perform strength-training exercises at least twice weekly.
Keeping a food diary, getting eight hours of sleep each night, and keeping your stress in check may also help you reach and maintain a healthy weight.
Natural Solutions for Obesity Prevention
Some alternative therapies and mind-body exercises may help support your weight-loss and/or weight-maintenance efforts, according to recent research. Here's a look at practices that may help promote obesity prevention:
In a 2008 analysis of data on 31,044 American adults, scientists discovered that participants with obesity had a lower prevalence of use of yoga. And in a 2005 study of 15,550 adults aged 53 to 57, researchers found that those who regularly practiced yoga had gained significantly less weight since age 45.
For a research review published in 2009, investigators sized up 31 studies (with a total of 3,013 participants) and concluded that acupuncture is an effective treatment for obesity. The review indicates that receiving acupuncture may lead to a significant reduction in body weight and improvement in obesity; however, the review's authors caution that the "amount of evidence is not fully convincing because of the poor methodological quality of trials reviewed."
3) Tai Chi
In a 2009 study of 21 obese women, all subjects took part in a 10-week weight-management program that included either a two-hour weekly session of tai chi or a standard exercise routine. At the end of the program, members of the tai chi group showed a reduction in body fat percentage (as well as improvements in blood pressure and mood).
Alternative Medicine and Obesity Prevention
If you're considering the use of any type of alternative medicine (including weight loss supplements) for obesity prevention, it's important to consult your physician before beginning treatment.
Bertisch SM, Wee CC, McCarthy EP. "Use of complementary and alternative therapies by overweight and obese adults." Obesity. 2008 16(7):1610-5.
Cho SH, Lee JS, Thabane L, Lee J. "Acupuncture for obesity: a systematic review and meta-analysis." Int J Obes (Lond). 2009 33(2):183-96.
Dechamps A, Gatta B, Bourdel-Marchasson I, Tabarin A, Roger P. "Pilot study of a 10-week multidisciplinary Tai Chi intervention in sedentary obese women." Clin J Sport Med. 2009 19(1):49-53.
Kristal AR, Littman AJ, Benitez D, White E. "Yoga practice is associated with attenuated weight gain in healthy, middle-aged men and women." Altern Ther Health Med. 2005 11(4):28-33.
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. "2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans".
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. "Overweight, Obesity, and Weight Loss". March 2009.