It is almost a tradition in most part of Africa, Nigeria inclusive, that breastfeeding mothers are usually fed with fattening foods that leave them blown out of proportion.
After weaning, most of these mothers find it extremely difficult to shed the excess fat acquired while breastfeeding.
I know that an average Nigerian do respect a fat/bulky woman, hence some women deliberately put on weight for this purpose.
But by losing just 10 pounds, you can prevent deadly illness, alleviate daily pain, and improve your quality of life.
Apart from losing the illegally acquired weight, there are other health factors associated with being over weight.
Let’s look at them….
- Maintain a Healthy Heart
Two of the major risk factors for heart disease are high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Studies indicate that the accumulation of excess body fat releases certain naturally occurring chemicals into the bloodstream that causes blood pressure to rise and being overweight causes the liver to produce excessive amounts of LDL cholesterol.
LDL (low density lipoprotein, sometimes called “bad cholesterol”) tends to be sticky and lines or accumulates in the walls of blood vessels leading to narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
As weight is lost, blood pressure often diminishes and the amount of LDL the liver produces is reduced.
- Avoid Type 2 Diabetes or Pre-Diabetes
High Blood Glucose (Prediabetes) is a condition that occurs when sugar levels in the blood are higher than normal but not high enough to be officially diagnosed as diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body stops producing insulin in the amounts adequate to meet the body’s needs or the insulin that is produced doesn’t work properly. People with prediabetes are at significantly higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes down the track.
Being overweight or obese is a leading risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
Carrying excess weight makes it difficult for cells to respond to insulin, because the extra fat acts like an insulating layer, making it harder for the sugar to move into cells and resulting in higher circulating blood sugar levels.
Progression from prediabetes to diabetes is potentially preventable through weight loss and by maintaining a healthy weight. Studies have shown that weight loss of 7% and moderate physical activity, such as brisk walking for a total of 150 minutes weekly can prevent or delay the onset of diabetes by up to 58%.
- Improved Sleep
Snoring is caused by a narrowing of the airway, obstructing air movement and creating the characteristic “snore”.
Overweight people tend to have more soft tissue in the neck that increases the incidence of snoring. Snoring can be a symptom of a potentially life-threatening condition called sleep apnea – where breathing becomes completely obstructed and requires the sleeper to awaken to begin breathing again.
A person with sleep apnea wakes many times a night but often remembers nothing about these episodes. The detrimental health effects of the resulting sleep and oxygen deprivation include a compromised immune system, heart disease, high blood pressure, sexual dysfunction, and memory problems.
Losing weight reduces the amount of fatty tissue in the back of the throat and decreases snoring. Maintaining a healthy weight encourages better quality sleep and reduces the risk of developing sleep apnea.
A longitudinal study in the US was conducted to measure how weight change affected the severity of sleep apnea. They found a 10% weight loss predicted a 26% decrease in the number of apnea events per hour.
A large randomized study on the effects of weight loss on sleep apnea in obese patients with type2 diabetes found that those who lost weight were three times more likely to nearly eliminate the number of sleep apnea episodes compared to those who did not lose weight. Participants with a weight loss of 10 kg or more had the greatest reductions in sleep apnea episodes per hour.
- Mobile and pain-free Joints
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common joint disorder causing bone and cartilage (the tissue that protects the joints) to wear away.
As a result, the joints become swollen and tender and movement becomes very painful. Being overweight increases the load placed on the weight bearing joints e.g. knees & hips.
It is estimated that a force of between three to six times your body weight is exerted across the knee while walking so an increase in body weight of 10 kg increases the force on the knees equivalent to carrying an extra 30 to 60 kg.
Even a loss of just 5 % of body weight can decrease the amount of stress on knees, hips, and lower back, and reduce pain. (Remember a 5kg loss would equate to 15 to 30kgs less force on the knees).
Whereas, a loss of 10% of body weight has shown a 28% improvement in symptoms of knee osteoarthritis.
5. Improved Energy and Vitality
The physical health benefits of attaining and sustaining a healthy weight is well known but what often surprises people are the psychological benefits.
Studies have shown that weight loss appears to greatly enhance quality of life and is associated with increased self-esteem and lower rates of depression.
- Improved Fertility
Epidemiological evidence clearly shows that being obese has an adverse effect on reproduction.
The mechanisms underlying the relationship between obesity and infertility are unclear but it has been suggested that carrying excess body fat can cause disturbances in sex hormone metabolism that produce menstrual disturbances and thus subfertility.
Being overweight during pregnancy has been reported to increase rates of miscarriage and medical complications, specifically pregnancy-induced hypertension, gestational diabetes, and sleep apnea.
Deliveries in obese women have been reported to be complicated by higher rates of labour induction, caesarean section, and difficult labour due to increased size of the baby.
In addition, the babies of overweight and obese women are more likely to require admission to neonatal intensive care and to have congenital abnormalities such as neural tube and cardiac defects.
Birth-related injuries and foetal death in utero are also higher in this group, and babies are more likely to be of large birth weight, placing them at risk of birth trauma and possible subsequent childhood (and, indeed, lifelong) obesity.
There have been very few studies to date regarding the reproductive consequences of weight loss in obese women suffering from infertility.
In the one cohort study that has investigated this issue, the authors showed that even a small weight loss (an average of 6.3 kg) in anovulatory obese infertile women, achieved in a group setting over a 6 month period, resulted in an improvement in ovulation, pregnancy rate and pregnancy outcome, self-esteem and endocrine parameters.
- Reduced Risk for Cancer
Obesity increases cancer risk. The exact reasoning remains unclear– but fat cells are highly active, releasing large amounts of hormones like estrogen, insulin, and insulin-like growth factors that can fuel many cancers.
The risk for many types of cancers declines when you lose weight, but it’s particularly true for breast and uterine cancer, where losing only 8 pounds can significantly reduce the levels of specific carcinogenic hormones.
- Improved Sex Life
Your sex drive is affected by high blood pressure and diabetes, conditions you’re likely to have if you’re overweight.