According to the Center for Disease Control, approximately 36% Americans are obese. Although there are many factors involved in weight gain, a major contribution to this phenomenon has been an increase in the consumption of artificial sugars and sweeteners since the 1970’s (Cox et al., 2012). While these artificial sugars add flavor to food, few individuals recognize the negative health impacts that are related to this addition. Estimations state that artificial sugars, such as fructose account for 24% of the caloric intake in an individual who consumes 2,000 kcal daily.
The Human Ecological Theory dictates that an individual and their environment are interconnected in a processes of mutual influence and change. This theory is related to obesity because the modern human’s environment encourages them to be sedentary and make poor nutrition decisions. This phenomenon has caused in increase in obesity related health issues such as diabetes (Lakhan et al., 2013). However, this process is reversible. Studies have shown that increased exercise and moderation of fructose consumption can help individuals lose weight and lower the risk of obesity related complications (Cox et al., 2012).
Important nutrients to focus on when dieting include carbohydrates, fiber, lipids, and protein. All of these nutrients are necessary to ensure proper health, but when they are consumed in excess, they contribute to increased energy storage in the adipose tissue. In order to reduce the risk of obesity, it is necessary to determine the proper amounts of these nutrients according to body surface area and basal activity. Although eating in moderation helps individuals lose weight, the best way to do so is a combination of diet and exercise that focuses on reducing net caloric intake. While many individuals believe that over the counter pills are helpful in this process, there is only one FDA approved drug. Instead of focusing on quick fixes, it would be more beneficial to improve overall health during the weight loss process by taking a daily multi-vitamin.
It is important to stress that techniques used to gain weight differ from the techniques to lose weight in some ways, although there are similarities. First of all, exercise is a key component of both weight gain and loss. However, individuals that wish to gain weight should follow a different diet than those trying to lose. Focus should be on protein consumption when trying to gain muscle and a diet should be structured to increase net caloric intake when trying to gain fat. Daily multi-vitamins are also recommended for individuals trying to gain weight to ensure overall health, although consumption of protein bars and drinks are helpful as well.
If individuals trying to gain or lose weight participate in sports, their recommended diet will vary slightly from the plans discussed above. Light meals including protein should be consumed before the workout and water should be consumed during and after. To increase the performance of individuals trying to lose, gain, or maintain weight, running and swimming are ideal because they work many muscle groups.
While it is important to exercise and eat properly for general health purposes, it is essential to emphasize that carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins are associated with certain diseases and health conditions. High levels of carbohydrates can increase risk of heart disease and dementia, high lipids can cause stroke, and high protein is associated with cancer and osteoporosis risks, among others. Vitamins that are useful for preventing these disorders include Omega-3’s for heart health and Vitamin D for lowering cholesterol. However, it is necessary to remember that a balanced diet and frequent exercise can reduce the risks of these illnesses and prevent the need for a more serious intervention.
- Cox CL, Stanhope KL, Schwarz JM, Graham JL, Hatcher B, Griffen SC, Bremer AA, Berglund L, McGahan JP, Keim NL, Havel PJ. (2012). Consumption of fructose- but not glucose- sweetened beverages for 10 weeks increases circulating concentrations of uric acid, retinol binding protein-4, and gamma-glutamyl transferase activity in overweight/obese humans. Nutrition & Metabolism, 9:68.
- Lakhan SE, Kirchgessner A. (2013). The emerging role of dietary fructose in obesity and cognitive decline. Nutrition Journal, 12:114