Due to rising obesity rates globally, it is said that proper and consistent weight management strategies can help with the accomplishment of healthy weight. This can be through slow but steady weight loss, followed by maintenance of an ideal body weight over time.
Dr Everest Ntaganda, the head of non-communicable disease division at RBC, highlights that with a body mass index (BMI) of 18.5 to 24.9, a person is considered to have normal weight.
Whereas 25 to 29.9 indicates that a person is carrying excess weight. While a BMI of 30 or over suggests that a person is obese.
He says other factors, such as the ratio of waist-to-hip size, waist-to-height, and the amount and distribution of fat on the body, also play a role in determining how healthy a person’s weight is. Therefore, he says, to have ideal weight, it’s essential to visit health facilities for your numbers to be checked.
Globally, more than 1.9 billion adults aged 18 and over were overweight in 2016. Of these, over 650 million were obese. In Rwanda, according to the available statistics from Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC); overall, the Rwanda NCD survey found that 2.8 per cent are obese, 14.3 per cent are overweight and 7.8 per cent underweight.
Obesity is prevalent in the age group of 35 to 54 and females account for 4.7 per cent.
The prevalence of obesity is more predominant in urban areas with 10.2 per cent and Kigali City with 7.7 per cent.
Simon-Pierre Niyonsenga, the director of diabetes at Rwanda Biomedical Centre, says if one has reached their goal weight, it’s important to continue making healthy lifestyle changes so that they don’t regain the weight they lost.
He says weight management simply means the process of adopting long-term lifestyle modification to maintain a healthy body weight on the basis of a person’s age, sex and height.
Methods of weight management, he says, include a healthy diet and increasing physical activity levels.
How to maintain healthy weight
Reaching and maintaining healthy weight is important for overall health and can help one prevent and control many diseases and conditions.
Studies have shown that people with high activity levels are more likely to maintain their weight loss than others who are not as active.
Also, it’s important for one to set exercise goals, aiming to build up to a minimum of 200 to 300 minutes of exercise per week
Rene Tabaro, a nutritionist at King Faisal Hospital, says nutrition plays a big role in one’s weight.
He says, for instance, starting the day with a healthy breakfast is the way to go.
“Eating a healthy breakfast daily helps replenish supply of glucose to boost one’s energy levels and alertness, while also providing other essential nutrients required for good health,” he says.
Tabaro says that this can be backed up by several studies that indicate; by skipping morning meals, one is more susceptible to weight gain and at an increased risk of atherosclerosis, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol.
Another way to go to maintain healthy weight, Tabaro says, is to stay hydrated, and that drinking plenty of water or other no-calorie unsweetened beverages, as well as avoiding sugar-sweetened drinks, is important as it will keep you away from taking in more calories.
Dieudonne Bukaba, a nutrition expert in Kigali, says to maintain ideal weight, focus on a healthy eating pattern of whole, unprocessed foods that is rich in produce and fibre, as well as lean protein sources, is important.
He adds that is essential to eat responsibly and mindfully by paying attention to portion sizes and avoid overeating. He says using smaller plates and bowls may help one choose smaller portions at meals.
“Prioritise meal time; eat slowly, with focus on your meal. Listen to your body’s physical cues to stop eating before you feel overly full. On special occasions, choose your foods as wisely as you would on any other day,” he says.
Bukaba recommends cutting down on screen time, explaining that more time in front of the television or computer means less time for physical activities.
Another important aspect, Tabaro says, is planning for a long-term routine.
“A diet is only a short-term method or tool to lose weight. In order to keep the weight off, long-term changes need to be made. Identifying habits that caused you to gain weight is important so that you avoid that,” he says.
For people who are obese, Niyonsenga says lifestyle modification interventions (diet, exercise, and behavioural modification) should be included in all obesity management approaches for body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher.
Other tools, he says, such as pharmacotherapy for BMI of 27 or higher with comorbidity (diabetes and cardio-vascular diseases (coronary heart diseases, heart attack and stroke)) or BMI over 30 can be applied.
He adds that bariatric surgery for BMI of 35 with co morbidity or BMI over 40 works better for those in this range.
“Medication and surgery should be used as adjuncts to behavioural modification to reduce food intake and increase physical activity when this is possible,” he adds.