By Bukola Adebayo
Shedding some weight is no longer a beauty tip these days. It is now the advice experts — especially cardiologists — hand out to their patients daily.
Recent studies have showed that more Nigerians are becoming obese, and this is to the detriment of their health. Scientists say being overweight could increase an individual’s risks for at least 10 diseases including stroke, diabetes, cancers and cardiovascular disease, all of which could cut short one’s life.
Life expectancy could reduce by five to 10 years unless aggressive efforts are made to halt obesity, according to a team of scientists supported in part by the National Institute on Aging.
Also, a physician with PathCare Laboratories, Lagos, Dr. Olushola Shobowale, says the Nigerian culture, which in many cases, favour fat bodies, thus encouraging diets rich in bad cholesterol, as well as policies which hold no restriction on alcohol consumption, makes obesity a huge health problem.
Shobowale notes that just being overweight, not even obese, can affect blood pressure in an unfavourable way. He also discloses that chronic high blood pressure is one of the many conditions that can decrease life expectancy in adults.
On how being overweight causes hypertension, Dr. Robert Miller, in her column on Sharecare.com, says being overweight directly leads to high blood pressure due to increased pressure caused by fat on some tissues in the body.
Miller says, “When there is increased weight, it takes more pressure to move the blood around the body. When the weight gain is in the abdominal area, there is a greater risk of high blood pressure because this type of fat is more likely to cause the arteries to become thick and stiff. “When the pipes (the blood vessels) get stiff, it is harder to push the blood through. When it gets hard to move blood around the body, there is an increase in adrenalin. This will increase salt retention and further increase blood pressure.”
You may also need to lose weight to reduce your risk of diabetes. Studies conducted under the Diabetes Prevention Programme shows that about 80 per cent of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese.
It states, “Insulin carries sugar from blood to the cells, where it is used for energy; but fat causes cells to change, such that they become resistant to this hormone (insulin). When this happens, blood sugar cannot be taken up by the cells, resulting in high blood sugar; and the cells that produce insulin must work extra hard to try to keep blood sugar normal. This may cause the cells to gradually fail and lead to type 2 diabetes.”
Experts at the Centre for Prevention and Health Services Research, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, US led by Dr. Rik Bogers, concluded after combining data of 302,296 participants, that being obese increases one’s chance of developing coronary heart diseases by 47 per cent, compared to those of normal weight.
“People who are overweight or obese often have health problems that may increase their risk for heart disease. These health problems include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar. In addition, excess weight may cause changes to your heart that make it work harder to send blood to all the cells in your body.
To reduce the risk, scientists say strategies that produce successful weight loss, which include improved eating habits and increased physical activity, play a vital role in preventing obesity.
Weight loss through daily exercise could do the trick, such as 10-15 minutes of walking around the house; or up and down a few flights of stairs at work could do the trick, they say.