The researchers found that men who gained 13kg between the ages of 17 and 29 faced a 13% increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer. Indian experts say
New data from Obesity and Disease Development, Sweden, involving more than 250,000 men between the ages of 17 and 60, have found that those who gain weight between the ages of 17 and 29 face an increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer. and, subsequently, an increased risk of dying from the disease. The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, was presented at the European Congress on Obesity 2023 in early May. The researchers found that men who gained 13 kg between the ages of 17 and 29 faced a 13% increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer and a 27% increased risk of dying in old age.
It is a subject that weighs heavily on everyone’s minds and also places a burden on the public health budget of governments around the world. Excessive and unhealthy weight gain, often labeled the modern obesity crisis, is of great concern to health authorities as it is also directly linked to various health, disease and quality of life problems. “Weight gain can lead to elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension and atherosclerosis. It can also contribute to the development of respiratory problems, such as sleep apnea and asthma,” says Dr. Sukhvinder Singh Saggu, director of minimal access, gastrointestinal and bariatric surgery at CK Birla Hospital in Delhi.
Obesity, now classified as a disease by the World Health Organization (WHO), has been linked to type 2 diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, gastroesophageal reflux disease, obstructive sleep apnea, varicose veins, liver disease and certain cancers, says Dr. Manoj Jain, consultant general surgery, bariatric, metabolic and robotic surgeon at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital in Mumbai. While it is not exactly clear how obesity causes cancer, approximately 4–8% of all cancers are attributed to obesity.
Mental health can also be affected, as weight gain is directly linked to an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. Weight gain during pregnancy can lead to complications such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.
Also, in some cases, it could cause infertility in both men and women, decreased libido and sexual performance, and erectile dysfunction/impotence in the male partner.
Causes of weight gain
In India, several factors — lifestyle, culture, and environment — contribute to weight gain and increased prevalence of obesity, Saggu notes. “The main cause of weight gain is a change in our dietary patterns due to urbanization and economic development. A diet high in processed foods, sugary drinks, and bad fats can cause a calorie imbalance and lead to weight gain,” she says. Jain adds that obesity is multifactorial with common causes being genetics, excess caloric intake, inactive lifestyle, environmental factors, medication, psychological factors and disease.
“Excessive calorie consumption is very common. If you eat more than your body requires, then you gain weight and the extra calories are stored as visceral fat. Lack of physical activity and exercise, spending long hours at a desk job, or watching television for a long time are examples of lack of physical activity. Environmental factors, such as the easy availability of junk food, processed foods, and psychological factors, such as emotional stress, anger, sadness, and binge eating, can lead to obesity,” Jain adds.
An irregular or insufficient sleep cycle also leads to increased hunger, triggers cravings for unhealthy foods, and makes it difficult to be full, Saggu notes. Lack of sleep can also lead to higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, which promotes fat storage, particularly around the abdomen. Weight gain is also a common problem faced by women, as PCOS and menopause cause imbalances in insulin and hormones. Such hormonal changes can lead to changes in body composition, including increased fat storage.
However, keep in mind that it is possible to be fat but fit. “A professional weightlifter with a height of 5’4″ might weigh 77 kg, but the BMI scale would make him obese. The weighing scale does not take into account the weight of your muscle (muscle is heavier than fat ) and strength and power levels allowing him to compete in the 77Kg class,” says AK Abhinav, trainer and founder of Namma X-fit in Bangalore. Along the same lines, a study published in the journal Medicine and science in sports and exercise in January 2019, he argued that a one-size-fits-all approach to weight loss is a mistake. Obesity itself is not the biggest problem, but a sedentary, active lifestyle is because “a moderate to high level of cardiorespiratory fitness attenuates or eliminates the mortality risk associated with a high BMI (body mass index).” . The BMI scale was initially introduced to classify populations based on their weight and height, but the science of health and fitness has progressed further, Abhinav notes. “Unfortunately, most of us still use this as an indicator of our health,” he says.
How to fight weight gain
While health and genetic factors are a bit more difficult to control, others like inactive lifestyle and poor dietary choices are within our control and can be easily addressed. Both Saggu and Jain agree that diet and exercise play a vital role in weight management and losing unwanted pounds. Exercise and nutrition work in parallel in weight control. Exercise improves the body’s ability to burn calories and maintain a healthy metabolism, while proper nutrition provides the fuel needed for exercise and supports overall health.
“Regular exercise helps burn calories, improves metabolism, and builds lean muscle mass. It contributes to creating an energy deficit in the body, essential for weight loss. Exercise is important for improving cardiovascular health, improving mood, reducing stress, and increasing general well-being. A combination of aerobic exercise (such as jogging or cycling) and strength training (such as weight lifting) is recommended for optimal results,” advises Saggu. Jain suggests 45 to 60 minutes of daily exercise. “Your activity routine should include at least one indoor and one outdoor sport. Avoid junk and processed food and liquid calories,” adds Jain.
Nutritionists and medical experts also point out that a balanced diet that provides essential nutrients and controls calorie intake is also important for weight control. “A person who consumes nutrient-dense foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats, is comparatively healthy and fit. Portion control and mindful eating are essential to avoid overeating. Reducing your intake of sugary snacks, processed foods, and high-calorie beverages is crucial for weight management,” adds Saggu. Jain suggests a calorie intake of 1,200 to 1,500 kCal per day, adding that your meal should have fewer carbohydrates and more protein.
Above all, says Saggu, it’s important to take a sustainable approach that combines regular physical activity with a balanced, nutrient-dense diet to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.