Many people nowadays are concerned with the problem of weight management. Both underweight and overweight people should think about it in order to make a good contribution to their health. Therefore, there is a need to be aware of the ways to control weight and remain in a good shape. In addition, since there is much information about it in many sources, such as the internet, women magazines, diet books, and so on, people should look into the details and understand what ways of losing or gaining weight are healthy and effective.
In order to understand whether a person is overweight, underweight, obese, or in a normal shape, there is a need to count their body mass index (BMI), which is counted by dividing body weight in kilograms by height in meters squared. However, it does not always tell the truth. For example, it may show that a person is overweight, while part of his weight is actually referred to muscles, not fat. Thus, professional athletes may be considered to be overweight by BMI, but in reality, they are not overweight but have more muscle mass than other people. Therefore, it is not only the BMI, which needs to be taken into consideration in counting whether a person needs to lose or gain weight or not. In the meantime, measuring body composition, referring to the relative amount of fat and fat-free body mass, can be helpful in determining whether a person is overweight or obese.
It is estimated that over 65 million people in the United States are obese, which counts for 65 percent of all population. This problem is considered to be a major health problem in the US because numerous diseases and even deaths are linked to obesity. The weight can be gained gradually, and in this case, the problem will be called creeping obesity. The emergence of this problem is usually referred to either genetic traits, or lifestyle, which includes poor diet and low physical activity.
Certainly, unhealthy levels of body fat can affect physical and mental health. Thus, obesity may lead to numerous diseases, such as heart diseases, colon cancer, high blood pressure, arthritis, diabetes, and so on. It is also linked to higher cholesterol levels and unhealthy blood lipid profiles. In the meantime, underweight people also face serious illnesses. For example, such eating disorders as anorexia and bulimia are usually related to malnutrition, loss of muscle mass and strength, as well as to the increased risk of osteoporosis, heart diseases, digestive problems, kidney damage, anemia, and so on.
Since the body composition is considered to be such a serious issue, there are various ways to assess it. One of the simplest ones is BMI, which, as it has already been mentioned above, has limitations because it can under- or overestimate body fatness when, for example, a person weights more not due to the fat, but due to muscles. Other assessment ways are skinfold assessment and waist-to-hip measurement, which are good at some point, but also have limitations. Therefore, there are also laboratory methods, including underwater weighting, air displacement, dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, and bioelectrical impedance analysis, which provide reasonable estimates of body composition. However, most of them are not practical for general use due to their cost.
It is important to remember that healthy body weight can be determined by taking into consideration such aspects as the optimal level of body fat for a person's age, sex and height. There is also a need to be aware of the percentage of body fat. In addition, in case a person is trying to gain or lose weight, they need to assess body composition regularly. Moreover, there is a need to be aware of other internal and external factors affecting body composition.
Internal factors include genetics and hormonal secretions. For example, leptin is a hormone that depresses appetite, while gherlin is a hormone that contributed to the feeling of hunger. Therefore, the content of these hormones may contribute to obesity or underweight, which is now researched by scientists in order to understand whether the use of these hormones can be a cure for these issues.
In the meantime, diet, exercise and social settings are considered to be external factors, which remain the primary focus for health care professionals. Eating habits and regular exercises can fall under control. For that, an individual should understand what triggers his/her eating habits and manage them properly by paying attention how much and what they consume and by understanding the notion of energy balance. It is related to the ratio of consumed and expended calories resulting in the maintenance of a constant weight. For counting daily energy expenditure, resting and exercise metabolic rates need to be taken into account.
In order to lose weight healthily, a person needs to set realistic goals, assessing and modifying a diet in order to make it healthy and balanced. It needs to be low in fat and calories, but to provide all the essential nutrients and a variety of foods. Also, there is a need to plan physical activity and exercise every day. Exercises should also be chosen in accordance with individual body features. In addition, healthy eating habits and personal commitment to stick to them are important. For gaining weight, a special set of exercises and good nutrition are necessary as well in order to avoid such easting disorders as bulimia and anorexia, associated with underweight.
The maintenance of a healthy lifestyle is the most important for people who want to manage their weight. After sticking to a diet and even after taking such extreme measures as surgery or prescription medication, there is a risk to gain weight again after slipping into unhealthy habits. Therefore, a long-term commitment to healthy nutrition and daily exercising is the best contribution to one's mental and physical health.