No fat shaming, let’s talk obesity as a health issue

From the Editor’s desk|In these times when talking weight can easily be misconstrued as fat shaming, we need to find ways to talk weight without fat shaming others or making people who are battling obesity feel degraded. However, having an honest weight discussion is important because while people are free to make their own lifestyle choices, the dangers of obesity also need to be discussed openly.

Weight as a health issue is an important but sensitive discussion. If someone close to us is battling obesity we must be supportive, not judgmental because that allows them to take our advice objectively.

Also, it depends on what relationship you have with a person to be able to go into such a personal and intimate subject like obesity and it’s dangers.

According to the UK’s NHS website, ‘the term ‘obese’ describes a person who’s very overweight, with a lot of body fat.’

The Havard School of Public health notes that “apart from tobacco, there is perhaps no greater harm to the collective health … than obesity.”

Obesity is not a local problem, it’s a global tragedy.

“Taken together, it’s clear that obesity is a global crisis that already touches everyone in one manner or another. Obesity’s health effects are deep and vast and they have a real and lasting impact on communities, on nations, and most importantly, on individuals, today and across future generations,” Havard HSPH.

Obesity is dangerous but it can be actively prevented by making lifestyle and dietary changes. Stanford Health Care provides essential tips on preventing obesity in adults:

  • Eat five to six servings of fruits and vegetables daily. A vegetable serving is one cup of raw vegetables or one-half cup of cooked vegetables or vegetable juice. A fruit serving is one piece of small to medium fresh fruit, one-half cup of canned or fresh fruit or fruit juice, or one-fourth cup of dried fruit.
  • Choose whole grain foods such as brown rice and whole wheat bread. Avoid highly processed foods made with refined white sugar, flour and saturated fat.
  • Weigh and measure food to gain an understanding of portion sizes. For example, a three-ounce serving of meat is the size of a deck of cards. Avoid super-sized menu items particularly at fast-food restaurants. You can achieve a lot just with proper choices in serving sizes.
  • Balance the food “checkbook.” Eating more calories than you burn for energy will lead to weight gain.
  • Weigh yourself regularly.
  • Avoid foods that are high in “energy density” or that have a lot of calories in a small amount of food. For example, a large cheeseburger and a large order of fries may have almost 1,000 calories and 30 or more grams of fat. By ordering a grilled chicken sandwich or a plain hamburger and a small salad with low-fat dressing, you can avoid hundreds of calories and eliminate much of the fat intake. For dessert, have fruit or a piece of angel food cake rather than the “death by chocolate” special or three pieces of home-made pie.
  • Crack a sweat: accumulate at least 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity activity on most, or preferably, all days of the week. Examples include walking a 15-minute mile, or weeding and hoeing the garden.
  • Make opportunities during the day for even just 10 or 15 minutes of some calorie-burning activity, such as walking around the block or up and down a few flights of stairs at work. Again, every little bit helps.

As much as we must respect people’s life choices, we must also help each other make those choices wisely.