Why Are We Overweight?

Updated 05 December 2012
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Why Are We Overweight?

The recommended daily calorie intake for the average man should be 2,500 calories, while a woman should consume 2000 calories per day. The average person in Gulf countries consumes 3,000 calories per day and it is eating these extra calories over time that causes obesity. Obesity means the abnormal accumulation of fat and people who are obese have a BMI of over 30.
Just 20 years ago most people were slim but now when you look around being overweight is not unusual; it’s almost the norm. Within a generation the simple, traditional, healthy diets of the past have changed in favor of western-style, high fat, factory-made food. Rocketing levels of obesity are common in newly wealthy countries such as China, India and Brazil
In recent years restaurant chains and fast food outlets have arrived to cash in on the increase in wealth and the need for ready-made meals. Fast food thrives in countries where people are cash rich but time poor.
A recent survey of expatriates showed that they often gained weight after arriving in Gulf countries. Many expatriates come to the Gulf with the main aim of working really hard and saving money to invest in their future, but they forget it is also important to invest in their health.
If we allow ourselves to become unhealthy who are we helping? It is what you do today that affects your health tomorrow.
While there are clinical causes for weight gain, for the majority of us it is due to over-eating and a lack of exercise. But with education it is preventable.
Your Body Mass Index (BMI) gives a good indication if your weight is healthy. I frequently receive letters asking how to calculate BMI, and if you are feeling lazy, you can find a BMI calculator at www.naturalhealthlines.com — or else, you can follow the guide below.

Working It Out
BMI is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared:
BMI = weight (kg)
height (m) x height (m)
Sara weighs 90 kilos and her height is 1.60 meters. The BMI calculation would be:
1.60 times 1.60 = 2.56
90 divided by 2.56 = 35
This gives her BMI, which is interpreted as follows:
under 20: Underweight.
20-25: Ideal healthy weight.
25-30: Overweight and advisable to lose weight.
30-40: You should lose weight for your health as you are in the obese category.
Over 40: Seriously overweight and in grave health danger.
If you find that you are overweight, you need to make a sensible plan and aim to lose weight gradually. You can aim for 250 grams a week by making sensible, gradual changes to exercise and diet every week. Make time for some exercise, even if it is only stair climbing every day. In six weeks, you will notice a difference. You can e-mail [email protected] for a free copy of my healthy eating guide.
If you find that you are overweight or obese it is time to make small changes that will gradually lead to a healthy routine. The weather is now perfect for an early morning walk or an evening stroll; just taking this extra exercise will have an impact on your long-term good health. Try also to fit some exercise into your day such as always taking the stairs for one floor instead of the elevator. Make water your main drink of the day and eat two light meals and one main meal a day. In a normal diet you allowed to have three snacks a day, two of which should be healthy, such as fruit or some nuts — but you can also allow yourself a small treat, such as a small candy bar. Remember that one healthy person inspires another. If you would like more information about healthy living you can sign up for my newsletter by e-mailing [email protected]

Ask Alva
I have a small scar on my face that is red and swollen. Is there anything that I can eat to help it heal quickly?
— Wendy P.

I would recommend you follow a normal, healthy diet, and if you email me [email protected] I can send you a copy of my healthy eating guide. Try taking the following steps too:
Do not expose the scar to the sun, as scar tissue can turn darker than normal tissue in sunlight.
Massage some natural vitamin E oil into the scar two or three times daily. Cosmetic surgeons recommend this to help scars heal faster.
Avoid swimming for a week or two as pool chemicals can prevent the skin from healing properly.


Take a healthy approach to the issue of nutritional supplements

Updated 21 April 2018
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Take a healthy approach to the issue of nutritional supplements

JEDDAH: There is a growing need for dietary supplements in Saudi Arabia, given the increasing popularity of junk food and the effective role supplements can play in treating diseases caused by mineral and vitamin deficiencies.

A recent study found that 22 percent of Saudi people take nutritional supplements. It is no surprise, then, that many Saudi businesses have forged partnerships with international dietary-supplement companies.

Dr. Rowaidah Idriss, a Saudi dietitian with a Ph.D. in nutrition, said dietary supplements can be defined as substances that provide the human body with a nutrient missing from a person’s regular diet. However, she stressed that they are not intended to replace healthy eating.

She also warned against taking them without first talking to a doctor or dietitian, as some products can have side effects, especially if taken before surgery or with other medicines. 

“They can also cause problems if someone has a history of certain health issues,” she added.

A blood test can determine which nutrients we are not getting enough of in our diet, and therefore which supplements might be beneficial. Nutritional supplements are also used to help treat certain health conditions. 

“Vitamin C, for example, is often used to reduce cold symptoms,” said Idriss. “Fish oil is taken to lower elevated blood triglycerides.”

She suggested four daily essentials that can bridge nutritional gaps in our diet: a multivitamin, vitamin D, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids. 

“I routinely recommend a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement to my clients after consulting with their doctors,” she said. 

“For menstruating women, who require 18 milligrams of iron each day, a daily supplement helps boost iron intake.”

She said people over the age of 50 are advised to take a multivitamin to ensure they are getting enough B12, which plays a key role in the functioning of the nervous system and the development of red blood cells. 

“Older adults are more vulnerable to B12 deficiency because they are more likely to have decreased production of stomach acid, which is needed to release B12 from the proteins in food.” said Idriss. 

“It is also a good idea to take a daily multivitamin if one is following a low-calorie diet.”

She also pointed out that a high intake of DHA and EPA, the two omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, are linked with a lower risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. A deficiency of DHA might also increase the risk of Alzheimer’s. 

“A daily intake of 1,000 milligrams of both DHA and EPA is equivalent to eating 12 ounces of salmon a week,” said Idriss.

The dietitian believes that the Saudis who take food supplements often do so more to benefit their appearance than their health. 

“Saudi women consume more dietary supplements than other people in Saudi Arabia,” she said. 

“They do so either to lose weight or to care for their hair and nails. Bodybuilders also take large amounts of supplements.”

However, both groups, according to Idriss, tend to take supplements on the recommendation of friends and trainers, not doctors. 

She warned that commercials and social-media rumors can persuade people to buy supplements online that may not be approved as safe by the Saudi Food and Drug Authority, and advised people to get as much of their daily nutrient needs as possible from healthy eating.

Dr. Rowaidah Idriss

“Along with vitamins and minerals, a healthy diet provides fiber and hundreds of protective phytochemicals, something a supplement cannot do,” she said, adding that the body absorbs natural food more effectively than supplements.

In addition, combining supplements with medications can have dangerous, even life-threatening, effects. 

“Drugs for heart disease and depression, treatments for organ transplants, and birth-control pills are less effective when taken with herbal supplements,” she said.

“Taking an anticoagulant, aspirin, and a vitamin E supplement together may increase the potential for internal bleeding or even stroke.”

 

Natural sources

With the spread of fast-food restaurants and their alluring ads, the long-term health of the Saudi people is in danger, as children and young people snub natural sources of nutrients, such as fruit and vegetables. 

“This can lead to many deficiency diseases. Moreover, vegetarians can develop similar illnesses due to the absence of meat in their diet,” she said.
Dr. Ashraf Ameer, a family-medicine consultant, said the importance of nutritional supplements lies in treating mineral and vitamin deficiency, especially for pregnant women, growing children, diabetics, people with chronic diseases, and the elderly. 

“However, these products should come from reliable companies and meet Saudi food and drug requirements,”he added.

Mohammed Yaseen, who has a food supplements business, said his company works with a leading British health-care company to provide the Saudi market with high quality products.

“With this we hope we can contribute to the national transformation program by raising private-sector spending in health care from 25 percent to 35 percent, which in turn would lead to the sector’s financial sustainability and boost economic and social development in the Kingdom,” Yaseen said.

Decoder

Vitamin Terms

DHA stands for docosahexaenoic acid. EPA stands for eicosapentaenoic acid.  Phytochemical is a biologically active compound found in plants.