Obesity

Obesity is the most common nutritional disorder in the western world and its occurrence is rising. According to statistics, obesity rates in South Africa are increasing rapidly, with almost 70% of women and 40% of men either overweight or obese. Furthermore, reports show one in     four girls and one in five boys between the ages of 2 and 14 years are overweight or obese, while obesity -related diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke    and       some cancers account for 43% of deaths in South Africa. Obesity is one of the top five risk factors for early death.

Obesity affects one’s physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, as it can negatively impact a person’s self-esteem and lead to depression. Physical symptoms include shortness of breath, aching legs and swollen ankles. Excess weight may damage joints, causing osteoarthritis. Obesity is also linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, gall bladder problems, gout, angina, and certain types of cancer.

Food & Exercise
A lower healthier weight can be achieved by reducing food intake and increasing physical activity. The kind of food intake is also relevant. Small portions of energy dense foods, such as refined carbohydrates (cakes, biscuits) and sugar provide more energy to the body than similar amounts of other food types. Such excess energy accumulates as weight gain.

Sugary beverages are a major concern. Liquids do not provide the same satiation as solid food, and thus one may consume large amounts of sugar if such beverage intake is not controlled. Sugary drinks have no nutritional value but the average 500ml fizzy drink contains around 10 spoons of sugar. South Africans are among the top 10 consumers of soft drinks in the world. In addition, the market for soft drinks more than doubled from 1998-2012, with 15 to 24-year-olds being high consumers.

Excuses

Slow metabolism, hormonal imbalance or inherited tendency to gain weight are rarely the real reasons for weight gain. Obesity noted in a family may simply be due to passing on the same habits within the same social construct. People who eat the same as they age, but become less active are prone to gain weight. Coping with stress and emotional problems through excessive eating is also counterproductive.

Sunnah

Exercise is part of the Sunnah (way) of Allahs’s Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam). He participated in and/or encouraged activities such as racing, wrestling, swimming, archery and horse-riding.

He ate moderately and taught us to do the same. This includes his frequent fasting (such as Mondays and Thursdays) and his statement:

روى الترمذي في صحيحه عن مقدام بن معدي كرب، قال: سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول: ((ما ملأ آدمي وعاءً شرًّا من بطنه، بحسب ابن آدم أكلات يُقمن صُلبه، فإن كان لا مَحالة، فثُلُث لطعامه، وثُلُث لشرابه، وثُلُث لنَفَسَه))
 
A human does not fill a vessel worse than his belly. A few morsels which keep his back upright suffices for the son of Adam. If he cannot do that then a third for his food, a third for his drink and a third for his breath.”