When one’s weight is increased beyond healthy range, the normal advice from the doctor is to go on diet and exercise more regularly to avoid the possibility of developing heart disease, diabetes, etc. But, now some British researchers have advised clinically obese women don’t go on diet but change the way they eat, and they can eat whatever they want in moderation to improve their health.
A program, designed by a research team from Leeds Metropolitan University and the University of Hull, encouraged women not to diet but to participate in exercise classes did improve their health and mental well-being significantly. The 62 women aged 24 to 55 took part in the study all had a body mass index of more than 30, which is classed as clinically obese. They were also taught about good eating habits, such as how to cook, and received social support.
During the program, these women were required to do 4 hours a week of exercise, such as Taiji, aqua aerobics or circuit classes. Educational sessions were also included to teach them how to read food labels and cook food, and behavioral therapy to help the women respond to body cues such as hunger and feeling full. Over the course of a week, participants were encouraged by the dietitian to eat a chocolate bar in small portions. Other than that, women were encouraged not to diet and to eat whatever they wanted in moderation.
After the first 3 months, participants lost a small amount of weight from 108 kg to 104 kg; whereas women in the control group put on an average of 3 kg. Despite of losing only a small amount of weight, the participants ended up significantly fitter: blood pressure, heart rate and cholesterol fell and respiratory fitness increased. Furthermore, the participants also felt better in terms of general well-being, body image, self-perception and stress.
The important thing to note from the study is that people are not set up for failure, hence their psychological and physical health and metabolic risk factors greatly improved. The program was sustainable because participants were taught skills in the exercise classes and given discounts to encourage them to continue with physical activity after the 12-month period finished.
People of all sizes and shapes can in fact reduce risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease by adopting healthy lifestyle. Fitness can be improved without losing weight as one gains muscle and loses fat while weight can remain the same or even increased.
Perhaps the health professionals may need to seriously consider shifting their focus from weight loss to helping people become healthier.
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