According to the latest figures released in 2019, more than seventy percent of Americans are overweight or obese. Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and some forms of cancer. In addition, individuals who struggle with excess weight tend to have higher blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose, and they are more likely to experience gallstones, liver issues, varicose veins, and osteoporosis than those who are at a healthy weight. To assess weight, doctors routinely use a measure known as the body mass index, a ratio that takes into account an individual's height and weight. Doctors might also use waist circumference and body fat measurements to obtain more detailed information. Individuals who are overweight or obese are generally encouraged to use dietary modifications and increased exercise as a first line of treatment. Some patients may need to take prescription medications to achieve their weight loss goals, and patients classified as obese could be considered for bariatric surgery.
The nutritional approaches described below are some of those typically recommended for improved weight control.
The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional cuisine eaten in the coastal areas of Italy, France, Spain, Greece, and northern Africa through the 1960s. Meals are built around whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts. Fish, olive oil, and limited amounts of red wine are also considered staples of this nutritional approach. Unhealthy fats such as trans fats and saturated fats are avoided, and meat and added sugars are minimized. Examples of meals that fit into the Mediterranean diet include wholegrain oatmeal, hummus with pita bread, Greek salad with balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing, and minestrone soup. Studies show individuals who follow this dietary method have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, and diabetes patients on this eating plan tend to have better blood sugar control.
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