Wake Up, Philippines!

Do or diet: Diets for weight management

Posted in fitness, Health, Nutrition by Erineus on February 3, 2009

The Latest and Greatest Weight-Loss Diet — Again?” This was the title of the talk given by Nenette C. Umali, RND, of the St. Luke’s Medical Center’s Obesity and Weight Management Center in the seminar on “Diets for Weight Management,” which was held recently at the EDSA Shangri-La Hotel in Mandaluyong City. The seminar was organized by the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), a non-profit partnership among industry, academe, and government. “We aim to foster scientific understanding through conferences, workshops, and journals,” Dr. Rodolfo F. Florentino, coordinator of the Philippine committee of the ILSI Southeast Asia Region, explains.

“Fad diets often sound good,” Umali notes, “but typically fall short of delivering on their promises. Some interventions entail greater dangers than the risk of being overweight. The negative effects must be carefully considered before embarking on any weight loss program.” Umali gave some simple guidelines for identifying fad diets and other weight-loss scams. If they promote dramatic and rapid weight loss, you have to wonder and to question, she said.

Ideal weight loss should be gradual and should not exceed two pounds per week. Be wary if they promote diets that are nutritionally unbalanced or extremely low in calories, such as the so-called “starvation diet” or the “no diet diet.” You should be able to get a balanced assortment of vitamins and minerals from a variety of foods. And you should drink at least one liter of water daily.

Liquid formulas do not make a good replacement for a regular or a balanced meal. Foods should accommodate a person’s ethnic background, taste preferences, as well as financial means. Often, it is more expensive to go “on diet,” Umali observes. Programs should teach clients how to make good choices from the conventional food supply and not attempt to make them dependent on special foods or devices. It is not a good program if they fail to encourage permanent, realistic lifestyle changes. Programs should provide physical activity plans that involve spending at least 300 calories a day and behavior modification strategies that help to correct poor eating habits. Beware if they misrepresent sales people as “counselors” supposedly qualified to give guidance in nutrition or general health; or if they collect large sums of money at the start or require that clients sign contracts for expensive, long-term programs. Take note if they fail to inform clients of the risks associated with weight loss in general, or the specific program being promoted; or if they promote unproven or spurious weight loss aids and gimmicks such as the use of belts or creams or certain passive exercises. “How can you expect to lose weight if you are just sitting on a chair?” Umali asks. Hot baths, for example, neither speed up metabolism nor melt fat. It just makes you dehydrated, so you lose water weight, not fat.

“It’s a simple mathematical equation,” Umali explains, “energy in, plus energy out, equals energy balance. The reality, of course, is much more complex. If energy intake is too low or if too little carbohydrate or protein is supplied, the body must degrade its own lean tissue to meet its glucose and protein needs. If energy intake is too high, the body stores fat. The weight appropriate for an individual depends largely on factors specific to the individual, including body fat distribution, family health history, and current health status. At the extremes, both overweight and underweight carry clear risks to health.”

Balance is key. Pediatric-endocrinologist, Dr. Sioksuan Chan-Chua of the Philippine Association for the Study of Overweight and Obesity, agrees. The good thing about addressing the problem early among young children is that it is still reversible. Dietary management is important as well as physical activity and behavioral intervention. “We need to take control of our life,” says Dr. Chua. “No one can have 100-percent control, but at least, 80 percent.” Avoid excess.

“The focus should be on health, not weight,” says Dr. Biecenda Varona, nutrition and healthy lifestyle consultant. As a health educator, Dr. Varona notes the huge popularity of nutrition and diet books, based on the number of books on this subject on sale at popular bookstores. “People are looking for quick, effortless ways to lose weight, and some preach what people desperately want to hear,” she observes.

“We have the power to think; to choose intelligently. We need to feed our minds, before we can change our diet.” Many success stories, she notes, involve weight management programs where hope is incorporated in the program. Attention should also be given to our psychological as well as emotional health. “We are hardwired for a better life.”It is not a good weight management program if it fails to provide for weight maintenance after the program ends, Umali warns. “Any diet will work,” she says, “but its value lies in its ability to maintain weight loss and provide good health.”

By Julie Cabatit-Alegre
Updated August 05, 2008 12:00 AM
Source: http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleid=77372

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