If a height/weight chart confirms that you are overweight, you can lose excess weight by following a slimming diet and taking exercise.
In rare circumstances, a doctor may advise drug treatment or surgery as well as a slimming diet to aid weight loss in a very obese person.
Before you attempt to lose weight, you should try to identify why you may be overweight. The most likely cause is a combination of overeating and lack of exercise, but you may find it helpful to look at your reasons for overeating. For example, do you tend to eat when you feel unhappy or is overeating a habit that has become established in your family?
The best way to lose weight is to combine calorie reduction with regular exercise. Plan what you need to do to succeed. For example, if you need more exercise, arrange a time each day to take a brisk walk. If you are tempted by the wrong foods, make a list of healthy foods before going to the supermarket.
Success in dieting also depends on being realistic about how much weight you can lose. Set yourself a practical, short-term target, revising it as you go along. About 2-4 kg (4.5-9 lb) a month is sensible. If you want to lose more than this or have any health problems, consult your doctor before you start.
You also need to consider what you hope to achieve by losing excess weight. It is important for you to accept that weight loss may not solve all your problems. It may make you feel better and more confident, will certainly improve some aspects of your health, but it is unlikely to help a failing relationship or make you more popular. However, the health benefits are worth any effort and lifestyle changes you may have to make.
If your diet does not provide you with enough calories for all your energy needs, your body will start to use up excess fat as an energy source. Therefore, you should begin to lose weight if you make changes to your diet to include fewer calories than before. Publications that list the calorie content of a variety of foods, both natural and processed, are widely available, and this information can also be found on the labels of most packaged food (see Understanding food labels). A good starting point for most people is to try to reduce their daily calorie intake by about 500 calories. This can be achieved by cutting down on high-fat foods, such as cakes, pastries, cheese, and fried dishes, and replacing them with healthy, low-calorie foods, such as fruit, vegetables, and grilled dishes. If your normal diet already consists mainly of low-calorie foods, you simply need to cut down on the quantity of food you eat. The best type of slimming diet is one that is low in calories but balanced so that you stay well nourished (see Healthy eating). Alcohol contains no healthy nutrients and is high in calories. It is therefore advisable to reduce your alcohol consumption as much as possible when you are trying to lose weight. Rapid weight-loss plans (see Fad diets) and fasting to lose weight should be avoided. They can damage your health by forcing your body to function on insufficient energy supplies and depriving it of the range of nutrients it needs to function well. Such plans do not produce sustainable weight loss or encourage sensible, healthy eating habits.
Exercising to lose weight need not be strenuous, but it does have to be regular. Sustained regular exercise raises your basal metabolic rate (BMR), the rate at which your body uses energy to maintain basic processes such as breathing, digestion, and the heartbeat. If your BMR rises, you use up more calories (see Exercise and health) and will lose weight if you also follow a calorie-controlled diet. Exercise tones and builds muscles, which weigh more than fat. Therefore, as you become fitter, you may find that the scales initially register a few more kilograms, although you will not actually be any fatter. Exercise can also stimulate your appetite; you must resist eating more than your new diet allows. As you become older, your metabolism slows down, and therefore your body uses up fewer calories. It is important to remain as active as possible to prevent the gradual weight gain that is common among older people.
Drugs and surgery
Weight-reducing drugs are usually recommended only for people whose weight is a serious threat to health, and such treatment should never take the place of a balanced, low-calorie diet. A few drug treatments for weight loss, such as bulking agents that make you feel full, are available over the counter. However, most weight-reducing drugs are available only on prescription, and regular monitoring is required during treatment. Certain drugs, notably appetite suppressants, are now rarely prescribed because of their potential side effects. Amphetamines have been found to be addictive and are no longer recommended for weight loss. The newer drugs that act by blocking the absorption of fat should be combined with a slimming diet and should not be taken long term.
Generally, surgical procedures, such as stomach-stapling and jaw-wiring, are considered only as a last resort for a person who is extremely obese.
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