Understanding factors that can affect your weight is critical to your overall health
We asked our Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing expert – Rhonda Zonoozi, exercise physiologist and certified health coach – to offer advice for successful weight-loss or weight maintenance in 2016. Here’s what she had to say:
Besides the obvious – eating more calories than you burn – what are some other factors that can cause weight gain?
Chronic illnesses can lead to weight gain, as can physical limitations such as orthopedic injuries or the inactivity. Depression, chronic stress and hormonal changes in women can also lead to an unhealthy weight. When you live with anxiety, stress or grief, your body may produce chemicals that make your body more likely to store fat, especially around the waist. This type of weight gain in the belly can pose more serious health threat.
Can medications affect weight gain?
Unfortunately, some medications can make you feel more hungry, while others slow your body’s ability to burn calories or cause you to retain extra fluids. Atop the list of medicines that may expand your waistline are depression
medicines. Also, keep in mind that depression itself can affect appetite and sleeping habits. Certain diabetes medicines as well as corticosteroids such as prednisone can also promote weight gain. Discuss these issues with your health care provider.
What is BMI and is it a true indicator of health or of a healthy weight?
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a screening tool that uses a weight-to-height formula to answer questions, “Are you at a healthy weight for someone of your height?” Although research has shown that individuals with a higher BMI are more likely to experience weight-related health problems, BMI does not directly measure body-fat percentage and does not distinguish between excess fat, muscle or bone mass. It also does not measure distribution of excess fat that could be determined with a waist circumference measurement. BMI should be used as part of an initial screening, not as a diagnostic measurement.
How much stress should you put on yourself to reach or maintain a healthy weight?
Maintaining a healthy weight should not be stressful, however, it takes ongoing discipline and commitment to manage your weight through nutrition, exercise and behavior modification. It is a good idea to know not just your weight, but also to understand your various lab values such as cholesterol, blood sugar and more. Having an accountability partner, or coach, has proven to be very effective in maintaining a healthy weight.
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(Originally published Oct. 28, 2016; last updated Jan. 12, 2019.)