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By Citizen Reporter


World Obesity Day: How younger women can trim down to live longer than their moms

According to experts, younger women may not live longer than their mothers if they do not do enough to fight obesity.

According to new research, South African women are losing the battle of the bulge against obesity, with almost 70% now considered overweight or obese. 

This increases their risk of non-communicable diseases like heart disease, diabetes and many cancers.

Rene Schickerling, Women’s Health Category Manager for Pharma Dynamics, said people who are obese have a 50 to 100% increased risk of premature death from all causes compared to those who are within a healthy weight range.

“If younger women don’t start trimming down, they could become the first generation in the country’s history to live shorter lives than their mothers. It’s imperative that we change the course of the obesity epidemic.”

Snapshot: SA’s obesity stats

According to Pharma Dynamics, Obesity is a complex disease, and many factors play a role, such as genes, metabolism, age, medicine, sleep, diet, inactivity and so forth. 

“Obesity affects men and women differently, due to biological, socioeconomic and cultural disparities, but in general, the condition is more prevalent among women.”

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South Africa is one of the countries with the highest obesity prevalence, with a projected increase in obesity by 47.7% in females and 23.3% in males by 2025.

Pitfalls of obesity for women

Schickerling says carrying excess weight has many downfalls, especially for women.

 “It increases their risk of breast, endometrial, gallbladder, oesophageal and renal cancer. Their reproductive health also suffers, often leading to miscarriage, higher maternal and neonatal mortality rates, and congenital malformations. Depression and anxiety are also linked to obesity.

“Aside from ill health, being overweight also affects a woman’s earning potential,” she added.

According to studies conducted by economists globally, obese women get paid less than their trimmer counterparts. Interestingly, this doesn’t seem to affect men in the same way. There was little difference in salaries between men, regardless of their weight.”

Researchers found that a 30 kg increase in a woman’s weight is associated with a 9% drop in salary — a penalty equivalent to about three years of work experience.

In aggregate, obesity is a major risk factor for physical disability, negative bias and discrimination. 

So, where to from here?

This diet is more effective than intermittent fasting for weight loss
Picture: iStock

“The good news is that even a small amount of weight loss can help lower a woman’s risk of health problems,” said Schickerling. 

“Losing 5-10% of your body weight can make a big difference. If you’re not sure where to start or how much weight you need to lose, speak to your doctor who will suggest a healthy eating plan and an exercise regime within your budget.

“Starting your weight loss journey is more than just diet and exercise. It also depends on your age and weight. Younger women are likely to lose weight quicker than postmenopausal women. Working with your healthcare practitioner and setting reasonable goals are key to your success. Realise that it takes time to see results.”

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If you’re struggling to lose weight, you may just need to make a few small tweaks, advised Schickerling. 

Fighting against obesity involves doing things like: 

  1. Consume quality calories
  2. Keep a diary of what you’re eating to help make healthier meal decisions
  3. Choose plant-based protein over meat
  4. Incorporate more whole foods
  5. Find out if your workouts are intense enough for you to reach your goal
  6. Cut sugary beverages
  7. Get enough sleep 
  8. Stay active
  9. Portion control
  10. Drink enough H2O

But, what if you’re doing everything right and the weight just isn’t coming off?

“Certain medications could cause weight gain as a side effect. Speak to your doctor about possibly switching you to another brand or maybe the dosage could be amended to reduce the side effect.

“If you’re not on any medication and you’re still struggling, then consult your doctor on the use of phentermine hydrochloride which your doctor can prescribe, in conjunction with an approved exercise plan, behavioural changes and low-calorie diet. The introduction of generics has made new-generation weight loss medications like phentermine hydrochloride, much more affordable for SA consumers,” commented Schickerling. 

“These medications work by suppressing your appetite, thereby limiting the calories you eat. But, the best results are achieved when the treatment is combined with healthy eating, regular exercise and other lifestyle modifications, such as quitting smoking and limiting alcohol intake.”

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