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Weight loss: Why skipping food, dieting will not help

Last updated on: January 27, 2013 10:04 IST

Weight loss: Why skipping food, dieting will not help

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Obesity consultant and cosmetic physician Dr Manjiri Patankar who is also the founder of Instasculpt clinics in India, Dubai and Kuwait reveals that weight loss and obesity are less to do with unhealthy eating habits and more to do with human behaviour. Illustrations by Uttam Ghosh

Weight management is a valuable part of a healthy living approach.

Today, people are more worried about obesity.

What, however, has become difficult is to determine its cause.

Obesity is by definition excess of fat storage rather than weight gain.

However, what triggers obesity is something that majority of people are clueless about.

This has lead to several myths related to obesity. Dr Manjiri Patankar clarifies some common myths here.

Myth 8: Obesity is caused from uncontrolled eating and/or an eating disorder.

Fact: Obesity is related to many factors; overeating is just one of them.

In general, people aren't really eating that much more than they used to, on average. Lack of exercise is likely a bigger culprit.

And it would be ignorant to not acknowledge that genetics, endocrine function, lifestyle, medications and metabolism all play a role in determining a person's weight.

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Image: Excess of fat in the body leads to obesity


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Myth 7: Skipping a meal per day can help you lose weight

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Fact: If you want to lose weight in a healthy way, crash dieting is not the answer.

A balanced and healthy lifestyle does make a difference for the majority of folks.

In fact, eating three meals a day may actually help stave off obesity!

Skipping meals slows down metabolism as the body is tries to reserve its energy stores for daily function.


Image: Skipping meals will only slow down your metabolism leading to accumulation of fats
Photographs: Casey Lehman from Haljarp, Sweden/Wikimedia Commons
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Myth 6: People become obese and overweight because they do not engage in physical activity

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Fact: It is important to remember that obesity is not always a behavioural issue.

Although physical activity and eating habits are major contributors to obesity, there are other elements to consider in evaluating the causes of obesity.

In many instances, weight loss and management efforts require a balanced combination of behavioural change and medical/scientific evaluation and intervention.

In addition, hormone disorders -- such as those related to the thyroid, adrenal glands, pituitary glands, and ovaries -- can contribute to obesity.



Image: Hormonal disorders also cause obesity

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Myth 5: Once committed, you should lose weight as quickly as possible

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Fact: Actually, weight loss -- especially fast weight loss (more than 1.5 kilograms per week) or loss of a large amount of weight -- can increase the risk of developing gallstones.

Maintaining a steady regimen of about 0.5 to 1.0 kilogram a week over time is more sustainable and less likely to cause gallstones.



Image: Weight loss has to be a sustainable process
Photographs: Bill Branson, National Cancer Institute/Wikimedia Commons
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Myth 4: Childhood obesity is genetic, there's nothing you can do about it

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Fact: While a person's genes do influence weight, they are only one small part of the equation.

Although some children are more prone to gaining weight than others, that doesn't mean they're destined for weight problems.

Most kids can maintain a healthy weight if they eat right and exercise




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Myth 3: Weight loss and fat loss mean the same

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Fact: Weight loss refers to losing kilos on the scale either from muscle, fat or water, while fat loss, isn't much about the scale but about getting rid of body fat, losing inches in all the right places and looking slimmer.

Non surgical treatments are effective for fat loss and inch loss, where as diet modifications and lifestyle modifications are required for weight loss.



Image: Modify your diet and lifestyle to lose excessive weight
Photographs: Ron Mahon on Picasa/Wikimedia Commons
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Myth 2: Body fat is bad

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Fact: Without body fat, organs would not function properly, bones would break easier, and a person will be at risk for heart attack.

Body fat itself is not bad.

In fact, how much of it, what type, and where it is stored on the body makes a difference.



Image: Human body requires a certain amount of fat to function properly
Photographs: Ron Mahon on Picasa/Wikimedia Commons
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Myth 1: Exercise can make you skinny

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Fact: The concept is (calories in) -- (calories out) = (stable weight).

If a person doesn't curb calorie intake, exercise can actually make more fat deposits in body.

Exercise is important for maintaining health and strength, but just don't believe that you can lose fat by exercising.

If this were true, then Sumo wrestlers would be thin!

Remember, it's the fitness, not the fatness that often matters most.



Image: If you can stabilise your calorie intake, you can stabilise your body weight
Photographs: lululemon athletica on Flickr/Wikimedia Commons
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