Weight Loss

Weight loss man

Last Updated February 21st, 2019

Overview of weight loss

Weight management programs have gained momentum in the recent years. The global health burden of obesity and other complications has catalyzed this change. “Weight loss” at present is a matter of prime importance. Different health organizations are stressing the need to achieve the same. According to recent epidemiological studies by WHO, more than 1.9 billion adults all over the world were overweight in 2014. Around 600 million of them were obese. Therefore weight loss programs are being emphasized on a global scale in order to address the issues of obesity and overweight.

 

What is weight loss?

Weight lossIn proper medical terms, significant weight loss is the reduction of overall body weight by about 5% over a period of 6 months. In the recent past, the traditional definition of weight loss was a reduction in body weight by about 4.5 kg. But this definition did not take into consideration the differences in average body size in different countries and among different ethnic groups. A clear idea about weight loss due to fat reduction (beneficial) and weight loss due to muscular degeneration (harmful) is necessary to identify the health implications of weight reduction. One must know the difference between voluntary weight reduction and involuntary weight reduction in order to understand the clinical significance of both. An involuntary weight reduction exceeding 20% of normal body weight should be diagnosed to determine the possibilities of diseases, organ dysfunctions or malnutrition.

 

Some misconceptions

The following myths related to weight reduction should be discarded to achieve a healthy lifestyle-

  • Fad diets help lose weight quickly
  • Grains and carbohydrates should be completely avoided to lose weight
  • “Low-calorie” is equivalent to “no calorie”
  • Becoming a complete vegetarian can help reduce weight
  • The magnitude of weight reduction is proportional to the number of hours of exercise

 

What causes weight loss?

There are various factors behind mild to significant weight reduction in individuals which are discussed below-

  • Hyperthyroidism: It can lead to increased catabolic activities and poor absorption across the intestine (due to increased intestinal motility).
  • Diabetes: Type 1 Diabetes leads to excessive loss of lean body mass (body mass excluding fat) and fluids (both intracellular and extracellular).
  • Malignancy: It leads to a decreased nutritional intake.
  • Psychological problems: Mental illnesses may directly affect the normal appetite and cause abnormal weight loss. Anorexia nervosa (desire to lose weight by eating very less) is an important example of this category.
  • Medications: Few over-the-counter drugs like Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) and few antipsychotic drugs, antidepressants, and sedatives trigger weight reduction on withdrawal.
  • Alcoholism: Liver Cirrhosis due to excessive intake of alcohol can cause weight reduction.
  • Tobacco: Excessive intake of tobacco, opiates, narcotics can directly impact the appetite center and increase basal metabolism causing weight loss.
  • Impaired absorption: It occurs due to pancreatic dysfunctions, parasitic infections, and few harmful drugs.
  • Oral problems: It can occur due to dry mouth, dental disorders, chewing problems and oesophageal candidiasis leading to decreased intake of food.
  • Nutritional loss: Persistent Diarrhoea and vomiting cause a huge loss of essential nutrients from the body causing weight reduction.
  • Aging: Degeneration of muscles occurs due to aging which contributes to weight reduction of unhealthy nature.
  • Heredity: Children of low-weight parents are more likely to have low weight themselves.

 

What are the signs and symptoms?

Weight loss manWeight loss symptoms are not very prominent in the initial stages. But after significant weight loss, the following symptoms are observed-

  • Skinny and skeletal appearance due to loss of excessive fat
  • Reduced fullness of arms, chests and abdominal region
  • Appearance of fine wrinkles and creases on the skin
  • Squared off and abnormally protruded shoulders
  • Loss of tone and bulk in biceps, triceps and quadriceps
  • Loss of body strength
  • Fatigue
  • Cognitive impairment (extreme cases)
  • Delayed and insufficient healing of wounds
  • Dry skin (may lead to oedema and dermatitis)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mental instability

 

Types of weight loss

Weight loss can be broadly classified into two categories –

  • Voluntary weight loss: It is achieved on one’s own accord via physical exercise or low-calorie diet plans.
  • Involuntary weight loss: It is not controlled by an individual and is caused by diseases or nutritional deficiencies.

Another classification of weight loss depends on the body component lost. It is as follows-

  • Sarcopenia: It refers to the degeneration of skeletal muscles causing loss of lean body mass by 19% in men and 12% in women (source: Research reports by Cecilia et al). It occurs due to aging, lack of physical activities and catabolic disorders.
  • Cachexia: Loss of both muscle and body fats occurs due to malignancies or HIV infection.

 

What are the complications?

Excessive weight loss can lead to the following clinical complications-

  • Metabolic disorders
  • Malnutrition
  • Muscular degeneration (in elderly people)
  • Permanent psychological problems

 

Some useful recommendations

Weight loss dietDieticians and health practitioners recommend a few techniques to achieve weight loss in a healthy manner. These are as follows-

  • Eat regular small meals within specified intervals of time
  • Avoid skipping meals to prevent metabolic slowdown
  • Monitor your activity level (hours of physical exercise and hours of immobility)
  • Have low-calorie food and drinks (avoid diet containing saturated and trans fat, or excessive protein/purine)
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Have plenty of fruits
  • Avoid involvement in other activities while eating
  • Monitor the pounds reduced/gained at least once in a month

 

Important diagnostic tests

The following laboratory examinations are necessary to analyze the causes of weight loss-

  • Blood tests and serum cultures (serum TSH)
  • Endoscopy to examine any existing infection
  • Hemoccult testing
  • Urine analysis (for glycosuria)

 

Treatment

Anorexia Nervosa 

Hospitalization 

  • If the patient’s life is in immediate danger, they will be hospitalized.
  • Hospitalization of the patient occurs due to dehydration, electrolytes imbalance and persistent refusal to eat.
  • There are certain programs that have been designed to make sure that those with an eating disorder are taken care of. These programs can provide residential facilities as well.

Medical care

  • At times, those diagnosed with anorexia will need to be fed via a tube that goes through their nose and into their stomach (nasogastric tube).
  • Patients diagnosed with anorexia would need around the clock monitoring, due to the severe problems caused because of the nutritional loss.

Medication – Antidepressants and psychiatric medication can be given to the patient for secondary symptoms such as depression and anxiety.

Restoring a healthy weight

  • Primary care doctor – They will help the patient by informing them about the required calorie quantities that are required by the body.
  • A psychologist or other mental health professionals – They help in improving the behavioral and emotional imbalance in the patient. This can be done via counseling them, once a week or with a set of appointments that have been mutually agreed upon by the patient and the counselor.
  • Dietitian – Help in fixing a diet plan and monitor the progress of recovery.
  • Family – Will help maintain a regular food intake of the patient, and notify the counselor and primary medical doctor on the patients’ progress levels.
  • Psychotherapy – Individual therapy is done for both teenagers and adults to make them understand the importance of eating and staying healthy. The anorexia patients are asked to talk about their feelings, and take steps to bring back their mental health to its natural libido.

Alcoholism 

  • Detox and withdrawal – The treatment program will begin with a detoxification. This will make the patient have withdrawal symptoms, due to which they will be given a sedative to avoid severe withdrawal. The detoxification will be done as an inpatient in the hospital.
  • Learning a skill and establishing a treatment plan – This form of treatment is done by alcoholic specialists who help the patient through the treatment process. This option may include teaching patients how to set goals, targets, alter their behavior and manage their cravings.
  • Psychological counseling – Counseling in a group or individual sessions may help the patient recover from alcohol use.

Nicotine dependence 

  • Nicotine replacement therapy – Nicotine patches and gums are provided in the nicotine replacement therapy. Here the nicotine goes into the patients’ bloodstream, giving them the feeling of having smoked a cigarette.
  • Non-nicotine replacement therapy – Medications that do not contain nicotine such as bupropion, varenicline, and nortriptyline are antidepressants and can act on the brains nicotine receptors to help ease nicotine cravings.
  • Counseling – This treatment method would include going for a group of an individual counseling session with a tobacco treatment specialist. Counseling will help the patient in learning alternate techniques to curb their urge to smoke.

Hyperthyroidism 

  • Anti-thyroid medication – These medications help in reducing the excess production of the thyroid hormone.
  • Radioactive iodine – These medications are given orally to help reduce the production of the thyroid hormone and shrink the thyroid gland.
  • Symptomatic therapy – The administration of these medications is based on the symptoms and severity of hyperthyroidism, the patients age, any other medications that the patient might be one and illnesses. Medications to reduce the secondary symptoms such as increased heart rate are also given.
  • Surgery – In certain cases, such as thyroid nodules filled with fluid, cancerous nodules, non-cancerous nodules causing trouble in breathing and swallowing surgery will be the only option.

 

Prevention

Anorexia nervosa 

  • Healthcare physicians should be contacted immediately if there are any symptoms of anorexia in a family member.
  • The patient must be made aware that the beauty standards portrayed by the media are impossible to achieve.
  • The patient should understand the importance of nutrition and food.

Alcoholism 

  • Early detection of alcohol dependence can be helped.
  • Make sure that the person is well aware of the side effects of alcohol consumption.
  • Set a good example for the teenagers in your household, so as to help them avoid alcohol.

Nicotine dependence 

  • Talk to your children about smoking.
  • Do not smoke yourself.
  • Understand and explain the side effects of smoking on your children.

Hyperthyroidism 

  • Exercise regularly.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • Abstain from greasy and oily food.

Facts

  • A 19th-century American food enthusiast Horace Fletcher came up with a diet called “Fletcherism”, where he argued that chewing food 32 times or till it reaches its liquid state could help avoid diseases and encourage weight loss.
  • Elvis Presley was a great fan of the “sleeping beauty diet.” Here, a person was sedated for a few days to make sure that they do not eat, thus resulting in weight loss.

Facts

  • In the 20th-century cigarette makers regularly marketed their brands by saying that cigarette smoking was a weight loss aid.
  • “Byron Diet” is named after a Victorian poet Lord Byron, who would eat potatoes dipped in vinegar to make him look thin and pale.

Facts

  • Men have a higher level of metabolism due to their high levels of testosterone and muscle mass, both of which influence calorie burn.
  • Menopause is said to reduce women’s calorie-burning abilities.

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Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Make sure that you have breakfast every day.
  • Consume regular clean and healthy food.
  • Maintain a food journal and gauge your daily calorie intake.
Don'ts
  • Starve yourself for the sake of losing weight fast.
  • Consume a lot of alcohol as it tends to irreversibly damage your liver and kidneys.
  • Eat if you are not hungry or follow unhealthy eating habits.

 

 

 

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Anoscopy Anoscopy is an invasive diagnostic procedure where a small device known as anoscope will be inserted in the…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
Jicama: A fiber-rich tuber for your weight loss goals Pronouced as HEE-kah-ma, Jicama is the "new kid on the block" that has taken the world by the…
xylitol gum
Xylitol : Is this the right sugar substitute for you? Discovered during World War 2 owing to sugar shortage, xylitol has become a common name in pharamaceutical industry.…
Tissue Transglutaminase Antibody (tTG) Test Transglutaminase is an enzyme present in our body and is involved in protein metabolism. A tTg test is…
thyroid_scan
Thyroid Scan Thyroid scan is a diagnostic procedure that aims to view the thyroid gland and detect any growths or…
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…
Salt dangers
Sodium chloride: The wonders and dangers of the simple table salt Sodium chloride is a salt containing sodium and chlorine ions at a 1:1 ratio. It is edible and…
The right way to prepare Alfalfa sprouts at home Alfalfa or lusan ghas is not just a nutritious animal fodder. This flavonoid-rich herb has some amazing health…
Is bronchitis contagious? And how to prevent this infection? It is acute bronchitis that is contagious which means you can contract it from another person or you…
11 unbelievable health benefits of thyme you didn’t know! Thyme is a herb that has been used in alternative medicine.It is a well known seasoning in the…
arterial-blood-gas
Arterial Blood Gas Analysis Arterial blood gas analysis is a diagnostic procedure used to determine the volume of oxygen and carbon dioxide…
hepatitis B envelope antigen
Hepatitis B Envelope Antigen (HBeAg) The HBeAg or hepatitis B envelope antigen test is a screening test used to diagnose the onset of…
dhea adrenal
Androstenedione Test Androstenedione is produced by the adrenal gland, the test of the levels of Androstenedione helps in the evaluation…
Agave nectar: The bitter truth about this sweetener revealed Agave nectar is considered to be sweeter than the normal table sugar and even contains higher amounts of…
Kava: Is it the healthy substitute for alcohol you have been waiting for? Native to the beautiful South Pacific islands, Kava is a famous beverage rooted in the local culture. It…
Find all the instant ways to get rid of blackheads Blackheads - Not only are they aesthetically unappealing but if left untreated these can cause bacterial overgrowth on…
Tattoo Aftercare: The best practices to follow once you get inked Planning getting permanently inked? Make sure you follow these critical tattoo aftercare techniques to avoid infectious agents attacking…
Inversion Therapy: The anti-gravity way of healing chronic back pain Inversion therapy involves suspending a person upside dow using different types of equipment. This works by taking the…
Barium-enema
Barium Enema Barium enema is also known as colon x-ray. Here, the patient is asked to consume small amount of…
complement c4 test
Anemia Profile Anemia Profile test (Basic) is a blood screening test that measures the levels of important components of the…
blood ketone test
Blood Ketone (D3HB) Test The Blood Ketone Test measures and monitors the levels of ketone in the blood which is usually performed…
immunoglobulin M
Immunoglobulin M Test Immunoglobulin M is the largest and the first produced antibody which helps in the prevention or fighting of…
macadamia nuts in food
Proven health benefits and nutrition of macadamia nuts Know all about scientific, amazing health benefits of macadamia nuts, its nutrition, recipes, how to consume, price and…
macadamia nuts in food
Proven health benefits and nutrition of macadamia nuts Know all about scientific, amazing health benefits of macadamia nuts, its nutrition, recipes, how to consume, price and…
sugar toxic health
Sugar: 7 new shocking truths revealed about the sweet poison Can drinking soda bring you closer to death? Is sugar slowly poisoning you and your family? You would…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
L-theanine attention
L-Theanine: Better sleep, higher focus, and many other benefits Did you know that L-theanine found in green tea can make you sleep better and be focused at…
avocado benefits
Avocado: 15 reasons why this fruit should be a staple in your diet Did you know that the word avocado literally means "testicles". Don't get grossed out as this power-packed fruit…
kefir bottle
Kefir: Top reasons why this probiotic drink should be consumed by you Yet another remarkable fermented food, kefir is a much healthier version of yogurt. These chewy white grains can…
Beware of these common foods that cause high bodily inflammation! Maybe its the long list of inflammatory foods in your diet that is making you frequently sick. Find…
The complete “what to eat” guide for gluten intolerance Does eating breads and pastas often makes you nauseous? Gluten intolerance is a common reason why you might…
Hibiscus: Nourish your beauty and health with these vibrant blooms Hibiscus is a trumpet shaped flower found abundantly in tropical countries. It has been historically used for its…
How to correctly perform nasal irrigation using a Neti Pot? Neti pot has been a part of Ayurveda since centuries. This ancient tool is extremely effective in treating…
Pescatarian Diet 101: What are the inherent health advantages of this diet? People opt to become a pescatarian in order to enrich their bodies with the essential health benefits that…
Oxidative Stress: Understanding the most lethal phenomenon happening in your body right now Free radicals cause damage to the body, which is known as oxidation.  The amount of oxidation caused by…
Erythritol: A healthy sugar substitute or yet another marketing ploy? Erythritol is a popular choice of a healthy alternative sweetening agent in foods. But how healthy can a…
bradycardia fainting
What does hypoglycemia look like when you don’t have diabetes? Hypoglycemia is not just a disease that co-occurs with diabetes. Non-diabetics could also become hypoglycemic. Hypoglycemia can be…
Internal bleeding brain
Beware: Ignoring these tell-tale signs of stroke could cost a life The signs and symptoms of a stroke differ depending on which part of the brain has been affected.…
Bubble Tea: Bubbling with nutrition or a hidden sugar mine? The tapioca pearls present in the tea looks like bubbles and hence the name bubble tea became popular.…
GGt test
GGT – Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase Test GGT or gammaglutamyl transferase test is a liver function test that is used to detect the extent of…
EEG
Electroencephalogram – EEG EEG or electroencephalogram is a diagnostic tool used to access the functioning of neurons and brain activity to…
vdrl test syphilis
VDRL Test The VDRL test is a blood test that is used to diagnose sexually transmitted or venereal diseases, primarily…
Tachycardia heart
Cardiac Profile Cardiac profile is panel of blood tests performed to check cholesterol level and other heart disease markers to…
Okra: How can this nutrient-dense vegetable help you fight diabetes? Okra is a food which is rich in nutrients and minerals which are extremely essential for a healthy…
shoudler exercises
Keep your shoulders pain-free with these shoulder exercises Shoulder exercises are important in order to prevent chronic back and neck pain. Learn more about how you…