Obesity is a global health epidemic that as of 2016 affects 650 million adults worldwide. The prevalence of obesity has increased rapidly over the past 30 years and now affects 20% of children and adolescents in Western countries. Increased consumption of energy-dense foods with poor nutritional value, as well as sugar, saturated and trans fats, combined with increased sedentary lifestyles and lack of physical activity, has led to this increase in prevalence.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines overweight or obesity as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health. Individuals are classified as overweight or obese using the body mass index (BMI). BMI is a person's weight in kilograms divided by the square of their height in meters. For adults WHO defines overweight as a BMI of equal or greater than 25, and for obesity equal to or greater than 30.
As a result of obesity and excess adipose tissue there is an increase in inflammatory markers and cardiometabolic risk factors. This increase greatly predisposes obese individuals to a series of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, stroke, metabolic syndrome, certain forms of cancers and many more.
Exercise & Weight Management
Exercise and physical activity can play a vital role in the treatment and management of obesity and related co-morbidities. Structured exercise programs alone have led to a reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides. Further benefits also include increased HDL (good) cholesterol, improved insulin sensitivity and weight reduction. When exercise programs are combined with proper diet and other positive lifestyle choices, the amount of weight loss achieved increases substantially.
The current research and exercise guidelines recommends a combination of cardiovascular exercise and strength training for the best outcomes in weight management. When both forms of exercise are completed at adequate intensities, reduction in weight and cardiometabolic risk factors reduce significantly in comparison to each form of exercise alone. For obese individuals beginning new modes of exercise it is paramount to ensure they begin safely and at an appropriate intensity. This can be challenging if you have a lack of exercise history and may require supervision to ensure all aspects of your health are considered.
Exercise Physiologists are allied health professionals that use exercise as therapy to treat and manage chronic disease and illness. An exercise physiologist will complete a thorough assessment of your health and prescribe an appropriate exercise program based on your goals, taking into consideration any co-morbidities or injuries. An Exercise Physiologist may also refer you to a dietitian in order to provide you with an individualised meal plan to help you reach your goals and achieve further positive outcomes.
If you or someone you know is struggling with their weight and is experiencing any co-morbidities or chronic diseases discussed in this article, please visit the exercise physiologist at your local Kieser centre today to discuss the right exercise program that is tailored to your specific needs.
Written and sourced by Kieser Brighton Exercise Physiologist, Ben Milner
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Exercise for overweight or obesity (review), KA, Shaw., HC, Grant., P, O’Rourke., C, Del Mar (2009). The Cochrane Collaboration.
Obesity, Adult Clinical Review. Rehabilitation Reference Centre.