Doha – February 12, 2023: The Institute for Population Health (IPH) at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) recently held a webinar to discuss ways to reduce the risk of lifestyle diseases associated with being overweight and obese.
The webinar titled, ‘Plain talk about weight loss’ was delivered by Dr. Ravinder Mamtani, professor of population health sciences and vice dean for population health and lifestyle medicine at WCM-Q, and professor of medicine at the Center for Global Health, New York.
According to the World Obesity Atlas, there are currently 770 million people worldwide living with obesity, and by 2030 the number is expected to rise to 1 billion. In Qatar, the obesity prevalence in women and men is likely to be 51 % and 43 % respectively by 2030.
Research shows that people who adopt unhealthy lifestyles such as physical inactivity, eating unhealthy food, smoking, and poor sleep hygiene could experience physiological changes in their bodies that result in weight gain or obesity.
There are many ways that could help a person lose weight, including eating a healthy diet, physical activity, behavior modification, medication, and surgery. Medical management of obesity is patient- centric, and involves using one or more of these approaches.
Dr. Mamtani said: “It has been established that the consequences of being overweight and obese are serious. Obesity increases the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and mental illnesses and could impair one’s quality of life or kill prematurely. Seven percent weight loss and physical activity reduce the risk of diabetes by 58 percent. Twenty to 30 percent of weight variance could be related to genetics, but the risk of obesity is only expressed with exposure to lifestyle practices that are controllable such as food and exercise.”
In case of unexplained weight gain, Dr. Mamtani recommends medical evaluation to rule out any underlying medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome, and polycystic ovaries. Antidepressants, beta-blockers, birth control, and corticosteroids are some medications that may also contribute to weight gain.
“Keep a food diary, read nutrition labels, eat slowly, and consider drinking water or a low caloric drink before or with the meal. Engage in physical activity and adopt other healthy habits such as adequate sleep, social connectedness, and staying away from harmful substances (tobacco),” Dr. Mamtani added. Commenting on supplements, he remarked, “they are not worth the risk, because they are not regulated and not adequately tested.”
According to Dr. Mamtani, one can consider intermittent fasting or a vegetarian diet but should be wary of fad diets that promise a quick way to lose weight. A healthy diet is food that is balanced and consumed in moderate portions. Half of the plate should have vegetables and fruits, one-fourth of the plate should have whole grains, while the remaining quarter should be a healthy protein.
Dr. Mamtani emphasized, “Our focus should be on lifestyle choices – diet, physical activity, and behavior- and acquiring skills that result in sustained weight loss. Medications and surgery can help but they do not eliminate the need to alter behaviour.”
The webinar comes as part of ‘Health and YOU: Community Wellness Series’, an IPH series that discusses pressing health issues facing communities in the world today.