Obesity in seniors

 

Obesity plagues the nation as a leading risk factor for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, hypertension and depression.

Do you have a weight problem? If you do you are not alone. An average American gains between one-half pound to one pound every year. According to some estimates, almost one out of every 3 adults in the United States (about 97 million people) are classified as overweight or obese.

This is almost double what it was in 1960, which means that more of us are getting heavier. An alarming trend is that weight problems begin earlier in life than ever before. Millions of kids are overweight and research shows that obese children are very likely to become obese adults.

Why this emphasis on obesity? For most people it's just a matter of not looking as good as they would like. The real problem of obesity is that it poses serious dangers to your health.

The Impact of Obesity on Health

Last year the American Heart Association (AHA) officially recognized obesity as a definite risk factor for heart disease. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), after a 3-year review of medical studies, concluded that obesity is associated with:

* Cancer of the breast, uterus, prostate and colon
* Depression
* Diabetes
* Gallbladder disease
* Heart Disease
* Hypertension
* Elevated cholesterol and triglycerides
* Incontinence
* Osteoarthritis
* Pregnancy complications
* Sleep apnea

In other words, most of our life-threatening health problems are associated with excess weight. Shedding those extra pounds will not only help you look good, more importantly, it will help prevent serious medical conditions.

Treatment for Obesity

First of all, set realistic objectives. The latest guidelines reflect the goal of rapidly losing weight in a short period of time. The current recommendation is to achieve a 5-10% reduction in body weight over a six-month period and every six months thereafter until you've reached your ideal body weight.

A 5-10% weight reduction every six months is more achievable, sustainable and sufficient enough to reduce the risk of associated diseases. Gradual and steady weight loss will lead to better blood sugar control, lower blood pressure, decreased cholesterol and less stress on weight-bearing joints.

The next consideration is how do you actually lost the weight? Here we rely on the same tried and true method - eating less and exercising more to burn more calories. Unfortunately, this requires lifestyle changes. It takes a lot of patience, support and perseverance to make permanent changes.

What is the "Yo-Yo" Syndrome?

Most people have tried numerous diets without success. The dieting results in the dreaded "yo-yo" syndrome. The "yo-yo" syndrome begins when you start a diet, lose some weight, go off the diet and then gain back all of the weight you lost, sometimes even more weight. Over time it becomes more and more difficult to lose even a few pounds, despite severe caloric reduction.

Clearly, this is not the way to do it. In order to lose 5-10% of your body weight over a six-month period you must, by definition, stick to the diet for six months. Since most of us will stop dieting after one or two months, we need help in order to see the results we desire most.

Appetite suppressing medications are popular because we need help in controlling food intake. Relying on drugs does not solve the problem. Often these over-the-counter and prescription medications work for a few weeks, becoming ineffective as the body learns to ignore them-a process known as tolerance.

Additionally, drugs have side effects, some quite serious, such as insomnia, nervousness, depression, high blood pressure and rapid heartbeat. Fen-phen had to be withdrawn by the Food and Drug Administration because it caused dangerous complications, including heart problems and pulmonary hypertension. However, there are real alternative diet aids that offer real benefits without any risks.

What to Look for in a Diet Aid...

When choosing a diet aid, it is extremely important to know what the ingredients of the product are and what actions they perform in the body. This is true for any dietary supplement you choose. For a weight loss aid to be effective it must:

1. Be completely harmless, even over long-term use
2. Be physiological, in other words, work with the body instead of suppressing some vital metabolic process

The good news is that a number of natural substances are available to help combat weight problems.

Chitosan: Fiber From the Sea

Chitosan is a special fiber found in the shell of shellfish like crabs and lobsters. Fiber and its use as a weight loss aid have been the topic of considerable study in the last several decades. Increasing dietary fiber intake naturally decreases fat intake, because fiber-rich foods are relatively low in fat and cholesterol. In addition, increasing fiber usually decreases LDL (bad cholesterol) and increases HDL (good cholesterol), reducing the risk of heart disease.

Just like plant fibers (brans, gums, pectin), Chitosan inhibits absorption of fat and bile acids, but it does so a lot more effectively. This happens because Chitosan has two unique properties:

* Unlike most plant fibers, it has a positive charge
* It is the only natural fiber that is soluble in the stomach

Since fats and bile acids have a negative charge, Chitosan actively attracts and binds them, making them unavailable for absorption. It actually binds up to 12 times its weight of lipids (fats). It's as if you are not eating the fat at all!

Eating less is a key factor in weight loss, lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart disease. Even if you eat a regular diet, which for many of us is loaded with fat, the addition of Chitosan makes it a low-fat, low-calorie diet. The taste buds are happy because it tastes good, and the body is happy because less fat is absorbed.

Garcinia Cambogia: Nature's Perfect Diet Ingredient

Garcinia Cambogia is a sour fruit indigenous to southern Asia and India. It can help curb appetite, reduce food intake and inhibit the production of fats and cholesterol.

The people of India and Asia have used Garcinia for culinary and medicinal purposed for hundreds of years. The active ingredient in Garcinia is hydoxycitric acid (HCA), which is chemically very similar to the citric acid in citrus fruits, and it is considered just as harmless.

Why Does HCA Help Weight Loss?

Carbohydrates from food are broken down into the sugar glucose, which is used as a source of energy. Once the energy needs are fulfilled, glucose molecules are stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen, a special energy starch. When glycogen stores become full, extra glucose is converted into fat and cholesterol.

HCA reduces the syntheses of fat from carbohydrates by 40-70% and forces glucose to form additional glycogen. As glycogen levels increase, the body sends a satiety ("full") signal to the brain, which decreases appetite and food intake. In animal studies, HCA reduced food intake by about 10%.

HCA is not a stimulant; it works with the body's natural processes. As a result, it continues to be effective even with long term use and does not lead to the "yo-yo" syndrome.

Citrus Aurantium: A Natural Metabolism Booster

Citrus Aurantium, a fruit also known as bitter orange, has a long history of medicinal use. One recently discovered quality of Citrus Aurantium is its ability to stimulate the burning of fat within the body. This is known as thermogenesis, or production of heat from fat for energy.

Citrus Aurantium increases energy levels and stimulates the accelerated breakdown of fat, causing weight loss. This effect is enhanced even more by moderate physical activity.

Because Citrus Aurantium does not stimulate the brain, it is very safe and is not associated with adverse side effects.

The role of Chromium in weight reduction

The body uses this mineral to produce a substance known as Glucose Tolerance Factor (GTF), which is important in regulating blood sugar and triglycerides. Chromium supplements are used to reduce cravings for sweets and carbohydrates, to increase muscle tone and elevate energy levels.

Copyright © 2004. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For more information, please visit www.seniormag.com