Obesity

Obesity is the accumulation of excess fat on the body, and it is considered to be a chronic and long-term disease.  It is also the second leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States.

Obesity is defined as having a body mass index greater than 30. The Body Mass Index is calculated by measuring a person’s weight in relation to their height.

Obesity can be caused by:

  • Eating more food than your body can use and not getting enough exercise
  • Having an underactive thyroid gland, or hypothyroidism
  • Stress, anxiety, feeling sad, or not sleeping well.
  • Drinking too much alcohol, or quitting smoking
  • Certain medications such as birth control pills, antidepressants, and antipsychotics.
  • For women, obesity can also be triggered by Menopause or pregnancy.

First Aid for Obesity begins with developing realistic, safe, daily calorie counts that help shed pounds while keeping the person’s body healthy. People who lose weight slowly and steadily are more likely to maintain a healthy weight.  For assistance, work with a health care provider or dietitian to learn about:

  • Portion sizes
  • Healthy food choices and healthy snacks
  • Sweetened drinks
  • How to read nutrition labels, and
  • Healthy ways of preparing food

Extreme diets consisting of less than 1,100 calories per day are not considered safe because they often do not contain enough vitamins and minerals. It is also common for people who lose weight through extreme dieting to return to overeating and become obese again.

People suffering from obesity should remember that a lifestyle change to incorporate regular exercise and healthy eating is the best way to lose weight, and that even modest weight loss can significantly improve their health. Learn new ways to manage stress, rather than snacking. Examples may be meditation, yoga, or exercise. People who are depressed or stressed a lot should talk to a health care provider before beginning treatment.

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Anorexia

Anorexia nervosa is a complex eating disorder with three key features:

  • refusal to maintain a healthy body weight
  • an intense fear of gaining weight
  • a distorted body image

There are two types of anorexia. In the restricting type of anorexia, weight loss is achieved by following drastic diets, fasting, and excessive exercise. In the purging type of anorexia, weight loss is achieved by vomiting or by using laxatives and diuretics.

First Aid for Anorexia begins with consulting a mental health professional who specializes in eating disorders. Common treatments include:

  • Psychotherapy:  Psychotherapy consists of individual, group, and family therapy designed to help victims explore the reasons why their eating disorder developed. Psychotherapy also boosts self-confidence, and teaches healthier ways to respond to stress and emotional issues.
  • Nutritional Counseling is comprised of nutritionists and dieticians who can teach victims how to create individualized meal plans, and help them set goals toward achieving a healthier weight.
  • Support Groups also offer a safe environment for sharing stories, receiving advice and gathering encouragement. Victims of eating disorders, who regularly visit peer operated support groups, often find them very helpful.
  • Residential Treatment is only recommended when treating extreme cases of anorexia; especially when the condition has become life threatening.  In severe cases, behavioral issues and nutritional levels will need constant monitoring in order to increase the odds of recovery.

People suffering from eating disorders like anorexia may choose a combination of these treatments. All forms of treatment might not be available in some areas.  The important thing to remember is that eating disorders of any kind are not healthy, and that it is crucial to seek professional help before the disorder becomes life threatening.  Before help can be obtained, the victim needs to admit there is a problem and must be willing to accept the need for treatment.

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