There are plenty of commonly held myths relating to obesity, to say nothing of the misinformation that is often spread by some of those who want to encourage you to try their diets or weight loss plans. While many of us believe that being overweight or clinically obese is the result of eating too much, there are various factors that can determine our weight and not all of them are so obvious.
It is not always the case that simply consuming fewer calories will cause you to lose weight. "Calories in vs. calories out" is now seen by many as an outdated mentality, based on a study that's now half a century old. This concept only works short-term and on low-energy diets of less than 800 calories per day. Individual differences between people can affect how the body reacts to a reduction in calories, and the quality of the calories is also important, 1000 calories of vegetables will produce a different result to 1000 calories of chocolate!
If you are obese, you may see a more rapid weight loss than other people, at least at first. Some people do lose weight more quickly than others and and it's unclear why this happens, but interfering with your body's natural responses may slow down the weight loss process. Studies comparing the long-term results of both fast and slow weight loss showed no real difference in the likelihood of regaining the weight.
Everybody is different but, in general, eating several small meals and healthy snacks a day rather than one big dinner is better for you, as this stabilizes your blood sugar and keeps energy consistent. Do try and minimize your snacking in-between meals as this can hinder digestion. The trouble is that many people are snacking on high calorie foods, as well as eating three large meals daily, and this excess calorie consumption naturally leads to weight gain.
More people die from obesity or being overweight than from being underweight. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) approximately 65% of the world's population live in a country where being overweight could kill, including high-income and middle-income countries. On a global scale, 44% of diabetes cases and approximately 23% of heart disease, along with 7-41% of cancers, can be attributed to being overweight or obese.
Eating lots of highly calorific foods without partaking in any physical activity will lead to an increase in weight. A sedentary lifestyle can similarly result in an imbalance and this also leads to weight gain, even if you are not eating huge amounts of unhealthy food.
BMI (body mass index) refers to the amount of weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters, and is commonly used to classify overweight and obese adults. If your BMI is equal to or more than 25 this is classified as being overweight, while being obese means the BMI is equal to or more than 30. A healthy BMI is between 18.5-24.9 for most people, although this is not infallible. Athletes with a larger than average muscle mass, for example, may have a high BMI while being physically very fit.