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Nourishing the Body: Addressing Obesity and Excess Weight

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one-third of the US adult population (35.7%) is obese ( body mass index [BMI] ≥ 30) (See HCs 061236-459 and 101261-459 for HerbClips related to weight) , contributing to the related health conditions of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. An additional 32% of US adults are overweight with a BMI of ≥ 25-29. The World Health Organization's (WHO) World Health Statistics 2012 report stated that one in six adults worldwide were obese. Dr. Ties Boerma, Director of the WHO Department of Health Statistics and Information Systems, relates, "In every region of the world, obesity doubled between 1980 and 2008. Today, half a billion people (12% of the world's population) are considered obese."


Energy imbalance leads to overweight and obesity. When the amount of calories exceeds the body's need to sustain life functions, excess weight occurs. When calorie intake equals the number of calories expended, body weight is maintained and balanced. However, the simple formula of expending a greater number of calories burned compared to the calories consumed does not automatically lead to weight loss. Genetic and environmental factors play a role in body weight, as do thyroid function and hormonal balance. While a healthy diet and exercise are essential factors in preventing and treating overweight and obesity, there is no single answer for everyone.


Though no one formula solves the issues of overweight and obesity, there is a simple answer – nourishment. As with all simple answers, the actual applications are complex. Oftentimes, the calories provided to the body cause malnourishment (simple carbohydrates, fast food, and chemicals [i.e., soft drinks]) rather than nourishment (fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and alkaline water); and each individual system requires adjustment depending on the type of fuel the body burns (protein, carbohydrates, fats, or a mixture thereof). Other factors pertaining to nourishment include the environmental conditions the body is experiencing, as well as the age of the body. Sunlight and fresh air, relaxation, and body movement all affect the health and nourishment of the body. One method that addresses the individual nourishment of the body is the Ayurvedic concept of Prameha disorders (See HC 071242-459). By examining an individual's lifestyle, excesses and deficiencies, and body type, weight management and overall health can be addressed specifically for each person.


So often, weight loss is perceived as deprivation; however, viewed through the lens of nourishment, perception can shift positively to an awareness of the lifestyle that produces a healthy, happy, whole body.

Lori Glenn,  Managing Editor