AICR Offers Strategy for Preventing Weight Gain
Experts at the American Institute for Cancer Research have introduced a new term into the discussion of overweight and obesity prevention. Since we live in an "obesogenic" environment, they say, even slender people have to take steps to avoid the gradual but incessant weight gain that otherwise seems inevitable.
"Given the health risks involved in putting on weight and the difficulty involved is losing it, prevention is the wisest course," said AICR Nutrition Advisor Karen Collins.
Our environment is a prescription for steady weight gain, Collins adds. Food is abundant and relatively cheap, so we tend to overeat. If we're pressed for time, we choose processed foods in large servings that are full of fat, added sugar and calories. Modern conveniences keep us physically inactive.
To help people contend with this environment, AICR has issued a new brochure entitled, Don't Let It Happen. Released during the season of graduations and weddings, it is intended particularly for young people who are about to enter a new phase in their lives in which they manage their own diet and time.
The brochure advises slender people to set a limit on weight gain by mentally adding 11 lbs. (5 Kg.) to their current weight. They should commit themselves to stay within that limit.
"Say that number aloud. Write it down on a piece of paper. Memorize it. You've drawn a line in the sand you can use it as a life-long guide," Collins said.
When people see their weight moving toward the limit they have set, the brochure advises, it is time to make changes in their daily routine that will keep them well within their healthy weight range. Three steps are suggested:
- Move Toward a Plant-based diet. By eating a greater proportion of vegetables and fruits, whole grains and beans, people can reduce the number of calories they consume and still feel full.
- Keep Physically Active. Weight gain is usually preceded by an often unnoticed decrease in physical activity. Getting active again will help to prevent further the damage.
- Watch Your Portion Sizes. During the past two decades, portion sizes in restaurants and homes have escalated. If eating more vegetables and fruits and increasing physical activity do not bring weight under control, then maintaining the proportion of plant foods on the plate, but reducing portion sizes all around should do so. In a nut shell, people are advised to serve themselves a little less than they are used to and stop eating when they are satisfied, not when the plate or package is empty.
"Taking off 20 or 30 lbs. is challenging; shedding 3 or 4 lbs. before things get out of hand is relatively easy. When the bathroom scale or the pinch of your belt says you are moving toward the limit you have set yourself, take action right away," Collins urged.
Limiting Weight during Adulthood
For people committed to maintaining a healthy weight throughout adulthood, there are periods that require more rigorous changes in the daily routine. Women may be more prone to weight gain during three key periods connected to hormonal and lifestyle changes:
- After the onset of menstruation
- After pregnancy
- After menopause.
Men tend to gain weight after changes in their lives that entail less active routine:
- After marriage
- After taking a sedentary job
- After ceasing to play team sports.
"When you face these critical stages, remember that you have made a commitment to stay within the 11 pound weight limit you set for yourself. Renewing your zeal for a mostly plant-based diet, increasing physical activity and reducing portion sizes can compensate for situational changes," Collins says.
Don't Let It Happen: Preventing Obesity in Adulthood is intended for people who have achieved their adult weight. A physician or registered dietician should be consulted about appropriate weights for growing children, adolescents and pregnant women.
To read, download, or order a free copy of Don't Let It Happen, go to www.aicr.org A single free copy can also be ordered by calling 1 800-843-8114 ext. 468.
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on diet and cancer and educates the public about the results. AICR provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International. WASHINGTON, DC