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Weighing In: The Body Positivity Movement

a man and two women jogging and smiling

Did you know obesity is a chronic disease that can be treated? According to the WHO, obesity is a chronic complex disease defined by excessive fat deposits that can impair health. Like many other chronic diseases, obesity can be treated.

This is not spoken about enough because of the stigma around obesity and the popularity of the body positivity movement.

If you are a person living with obesity, you have probably been a victim of weight stigma or fat shaming. — Where you are either being refused a job, considered lazy or unattractive because of your weight, or you are being humiliated and criticised about your body shape and size.

Both practices might drive you to gain more weight, depression, low self-esteem and eating disorders. This is where body positivity comes in. It teaches you to love yourself more and accept your body, your body’s size, and its abilities. It also emphasises your inner worth, which is not linked to your body weight.

Unfortunately, there is now a fine line between body positivity and glorifying or normalising obesity. 

Can you love your body regardless of what size it is and still seek obesity treatment? You surely can!

The body positivity movement does not mean normalising or glorifying obesity. Body positivity means loving yourself regardless of your size, and loving yourself also means loving your health. 

Studies have found that obesity comes with many health risks and complications, such as:

  • Diabetes

  • Hypertension

  • Some cancers

  • Stroke

  • Dementia

  • Kidney disease

  • Fertility issues

  • Depression and much more…

Treating obesity reduces your risks of any obesity related complications. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to obesity treatment.  You might have some genetic predisposition to obesity, hormonal imbalance, or even an eating disorder. You are unique, your body is unique, so your treatment needs to be tailored according to your challenges and your needs. 

three women smiling

Obesity Treatments

  • Lifestyle changes

Lifestyle changes are the first line of treatment for obesity. 

Obesity results from an imbalance in calories — You consume more calories than you burn. The excess calories are then deposited as fat.

These lifestyle changes are meant to create a balance by either reducing your calories consumed or increasing your calories burned. The goal is to lose fat.

1.) Being more physically active:

Do some exercises. You can even just walk. Anything that works for you. The goal is to burn calories. — More calories than you take in.

2.) Cutting out junk food

Junk foods are high in calories. Eating whole foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, lean meats and whole grains will provide the nutrients your body needs and will make you full for longer with fewer calories.

Don’t keep junk food in the house so that you are not tempted.

3.) Limit screen time:

This might sound silly, but screen time means sitting still for a very long time. Remember, you need to move more.

Finding hobbies that will keep you active could be an alternative.

Losing fat through lifestyle changes is a journey and sometimes, we might be losing weight and not losing fat. Regularly checking your body composition can help you make more informed decisions to lose body fat.

a plate with the words "burn fat" on it

You can check your body composition at Abby Health Stations and see how your efforts impact your health.

“Body composition is a measurement of a person's fat mass and fat-free (lean) mass. Testing your body composition can be a great way to monitor and reach realistic health and fitness goals,” says Traci Thompson, MS, Director of PEAK Health & Wellness at the University of Utah.

Weight loss programs

They are offered by healthcare professionals such as GPs, dieticians and nutritionists. Through consultations, you can identify your specific challenges for losing fat. Some medications may be prescribed.

Endoscopic procedures

Procedures where your doctor will access your digestive tract using an endoscope — a flexible tube inserted through your mouth. 

Common endoscopic procedures are gastric balloon where a silicon balloon is placed inside your stomach and endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty where stitches are placed inside your stomach.

These procedures do not exclude changing to a healthy diet to avoid a high body fat percentage.

Weight-loss surgeries

The goal of these surgeries is to limit how much food you can eat. There are many options when it comes to weight-loss surgeries. 

The common ones are gastric sleeve where a portion of your stomach is removed, leaving you with a stomach of a lower volume, and gastric bypass where your food is made to bypass a portion of your stomach.

Healthy eating habits must follow your weight-loss surgeries. This will ensure you have a healthy body fat percentage.

Regular health checks, a positive mindset and realistic goals can also help in this journey. And because it is a journey, be patient while celebrating every milestone/goal achieved. 

Find an Abby Health Station near you and empower yourself with regular health checks to know your body composition and much more.

Nathalie Kabeya, BPharm, is a pharmacist and a content writer in the health and nutrition industry. She also runs “Nutrition and Everything” newsletter that covers how your nutrition affects your life.

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