Many believe that addressing obesity follows the same logic as addressing regular weight gain: through changes in eating habits. Some people have thus attempted to and, in some cases, successfully lost weight through specific diets such as the Mediterranean diet (MedDiet). This diet centers on plant-based foods and a non-restrictive eating pattern, following long-standing dietary practices of those living in the area around the Mediterranean Sea.
It has since been proposed as a valuable nutritional intervention that can tackle obesity. However, experts are quick to note that the success of the MedDiet for weight loss is not simply due to changes in the diet but is actually dependent on whether the diet is also energy restricted and done in combination with increased exercise.
This shows us that while it’s true that changing eating habits and diet can help people lose weight and combat obesity, there are nonetheless plenty of other factors that can determine its effectiveness. In this article, we take a closer look at how to effectively combat obesity, and how big of a role diet plays in that.
Ways to Combat Obesity
Despite manifesting most explicitly as weight gain, obesity is a complex disease with various causes. For one, obesity is associated with low-grade chronic inflammation. This is characterized by the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines and adipokines, such as interleukins and leptin. Leptin, in particular, is a crucial hormone that your body uses to help you feel full and maintain your normal weight.
Weight gain from obesity can be incredibly difficult to address solely through diet if the biological mechanisms of obesity are not addressed. Many of these are inherited, making some individuals genetically predisposed to obesity. The aforementioned MedDiet is thus hypothesized to not work against obesity simply due to calorie restriction, but due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
Besides diet, options like surgery and weight loss medication can have a crucial role to play in combatting obesity. But do weight loss pills work for obesity management? Weight loss pills either decrease the body’s ability to absorb and store fat from food or suppress appetite, and have been found to help individuals lose about 5-15% of weight in the first six months of treatment. Doctors can assess your family history and body composition before choosing to prescribe any of the 9 FDA-approved medications, such as Orlistat to inhibit the absorption of dietary fats or Semaglutide to delay gastric emptying.
What about more drastic measures like surgery? Candidates for weight loss surgery are usually those who struggle with keeping weight off using nonsurgical methods such as lifestyle changes or medication. The operation makes permanent changes to your stomach or small intestine which helps your body feel full sooner, absorb fewer calories, and release more good gut bacteria. Studies show that weight-loss surgery helps individuals lose 15-30% of starting weight on average.
Eating for Weight Loss and Obesity
While medication or surgery can be essential for thorough obesity management, the consensus within the medical community is that you must still commit to a lifetime of healthy lifestyle habits to keep weight off. This is where eating for weight loss steps in.
Balance your diet with healthy fat and fiber
There are numerous advantages to balancing your diet, such as a stronger immune system and better cardiovascular health. It also stabilizes your body weight by reducing your consumption of cholesterol and saturated fat, while promoting better digestion in the body. A meal like salmon stir-fry can easily hit all of your required nutrients, such as carbohydrates (vegetables), protein (salmon), and fat (salmon and sesame oil) while being fairly easy to cook.
Control your portions
Many people assume that eating for weight loss means that you have to avoid carbohydrates or fats. However, it’s more important to control your portions because this is what allows you to watch your calories while still consuming your required amount of nutrients. By sticking strictly to the recommended portion, you can enjoy light meals like pesto pasta, which are complete with healthy fats from the pesto oil, proteins from the chicken, and carbohydrates from the whole wheat pasta.
When done correctly, eating for weight loss can certainly help you combat obesity. However, it doesn’t have to be the only or the most effective way. For a comprehensive and personalized weight loss plan, we recommended consulting a medical expert in obesity.