It is estimated that 2 out of every 3 people in the world will have obesity problems in the near future. Many factors such as ‘malnutrition’ and ‘inactivity’, metabolic differences and genetic characteristics play a role in the development of obesity. “Another important factor that is overlooked is that changes in our behavior caused by environmental factors may be a driving force for obesity.” Ezgi Hazal Çelik, Nutrition and Diet Specialist at Acıbadem Bakırköy Hospital, continues:
Studies show that people with obesity problems are more exposed to environments that trigger faulty eating habits and decrease their physical activity levels, compared to normal-weight individuals. Certain environmental conditions increase the consumption of empty calories, that is, foods with low nutritional value and high calorie content, and lead to inactivity.
As a result, obesity may develop due to low energy use despite high energy intake. For this reason, environmental change should be added to changeable risk factors such as changing nutritional habits and increasing the level of physical activity.” So which environmental factors are effective in weight gain? Nutrition and Diet Specialist Ezgi Hazal Çelik talked about 6 environmental factors that increase the risk of obesity; made important suggestions and warnings!
Fast food, processed foods, packaged products and carbonated-sugar drinks are among the top negative factors that support the weight gain process. “In today’s conditions, delicious foods like these products that are high in energy density but have no nutritional value are easily accessible. In addition, the prices of such products are cheaper than many healthy foods.
All of these result in excessive consumption of these foods that cause weight gain,” says Nutrition and Dietetic Specialist Ezgi Hazal Çelik, and continues: Because they contain high fat, refined carbohydrates and preservatives, they cause hunger in a short time, increasing the number of meals and calories taken during the day. As a result, weight gain is inevitable. Therefore, you can include these products in a healthy eating plan, but not very often.”
Most of us often eat out or order food from outside, for reasons such as the fact that eating has become a part of social organizations and that we cannot find time to cook at home due to the busy work schedule. However, in the last 50 years, it is stated that the portions especially in fast food outlets have increased up to 5 times.
“For customer satisfaction, enlarged portion sizes and flamboyant presentations can increase the amount of calories taken by triggering the behavior of continuing to eat despite the feeling of satiety.” Nutrition and Diet Specialist Ezgi Hazal Çelik, who warns her, lists her recommendations as follows: “Prefer small portions in the menus you eat out or buy. Avoid consuming carbonated drinks such as sauce, potatoes and cola on the menu. If you can’t change the portions, eat healthy options such as salads, greens and buttermilk, along with the main dishes with little sauce, grilled or baked, and do not add any salt as much as possible.
With the advancement of technology, communication tools such as television, computers, tablets and phones have turned into tools through which we can access everything in terms of information, business and entertainment. For this reason, we are now able to stay in front of the screen for long hours. With the pandemic process, the transition to working from home and to the distance education system has led us to exceed the increased periods.
Nutrition and Diet Specialist Ezgi Hazal Çelik stated that this situation also causes the habit of snacking along with inactivity, and says: “In order to prevent the risk of obesity, you can reduce the screen usage time, and in cases where the time you spend in front of the screen increases due to work or education, get up every 30 minutes and do small exercise or stretching.
If you want to consume something while working, watching movies or playing games, choosing healthy alternatives such as unsweetened herbal tea, unsweetened coffee, raw nuts or a portion of fresh fruit will prevent the problem of fast hunger and high calorie intake after eating high-sugar and fatty foods. ”
Even if you reduce your daily energy intake, not having a physically active life enough can increase your risk of gaining weight. The lack of walking areas, parks, and areas where we can do physical activity in the environment we live in causes obesity with the increase in weight. On the contrary, spending time in bicycle paths, parks, playgrounds, walking paths and green areas helps to keep the body mass index at certain intervals. Make it a habit to take a brisk walk for 30-45 minutes at least 3-4 days a week, in walking areas close to your home, in parks, or around the site or apartment where you live, if appropriate. If there are no such areas in your area, you can also benefit from online exercises.
The location of the food is also one of the important environmental factors that increase the risk of obesity. For example, when you are thirsty and go to the kitchen to drink a glass of water, you may notice the chocolate on the counter and find yourself eating chocolate out of nowhere.
“Of course this isn’t the case for everyone, but we prefer products mostly because of where they’re located. That’s why it’s very important to put the healthiest option in an easily accessible spot,” says Nutrition and Diet Specialist Ezgi Hazal Çelik, adding that removing refined sugar and high-fat foods that cause weight gain when consumed frequently, and if this is not possible, avoid placing them in areas where you can easily reach and where you will be constantly exposed He says it will have a positive impact on his control.