The World Health Organization defines obesity as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health. It is caused by an energy imbalance between the number of calories consumed and the number of calories used up by the body. The World Health Organization defines overweight person as an individual with a body mass index (a measure of a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of his height in meters – kg/m2) greater than or equal to 25, while an obese person by definition has a body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to 30. Overweight and obesity result in the deaths of 2.8 million adults each year, and are ranked as the fifth leading risk for global deaths.A 2008 survey out by the World Health Organization estimates that over 10% of the world population is obese, and while this problem was once considered an issue for First World high-income countries, data obtained in 2011 shows that of the more than 40 million children under the age of 5 who are overweight worldwide, over 30 million of these children reside in developing countries. The stats clearly show that overweight and obesity affect us all. The good news though, is that these conditions are preventable.
A healthy balanced diet and regular exercise have long been touted as the most important steps toward reducing and preventing obesity. Doctors recommend an increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts. But it is important to remember than even among these recommended food groups, not all foods are equally healthy. Grapes though, merit special consideration for the plethora of health promoting and obesity-preventing benefits that they bring to consumers.
Individuals who suffer from overweight or obesity are at significant risk for several noncommunicable ailments such as cardiovascular disease (stroke, heart disease), diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders, organ damage and some cancers (endometrial, breast and colon). However studies show that resveratrol, a compound found abundantly in grapes, may be a key component in minimizing the damaging effects of obesity. Commenting on the effect of resveratrol on lab mice, researcher Joseph A. Baur states:
Resveratrol, a small polyphenol, has recently been shown to protect mice from many detrimental effects of diet-induced obesity. Treated animals are less prone to develop fatty liver or insulin-resistance, have improved motor coordination, and survive nearly as long as lean control animals despite persistent obesity. At higher doses, weight gain is significantly attenuated. Moreover, resveratrol improves aerobic capacity, endurance, and cold tolerance, suggesting that its protective effects are associated with general improvements in metabolism and increased energy expenditure. By many measures, mice fed a high-fat diet plus resveratrol appear as healthy as their lean counterparts.
Dr. E. Mitchell Seymour of the University of Michigan investigated how grape intake may protect against metabolic syndrome-related organ damage induced by a high fat American style diet. After the experiments Dr. Seymour declared “Our study suggests that a grape-enriched diet may play a critical role in protecting against metabolic syndrome and the toll it takes on the body and its organs … both inflammation and oxidative stress play a role in cardiovascular disease progression and organ dysfunction in Type 2 diabetes. Grape intake impacted both of these components in several tissues which is a very promising finding.”
While these studies are extremely encouraging for persons struggling with obesity, the results do not mean that eating extremely large amounts of grapes will bring about miraculous changes overnight. Grapes have been shown to be extremely effective in combating the damages brought on by obesity, and though it is recommended that grapes and grape seeds be regularly consumed, they must still be eaten in moderation. Even so, these scientific findings have certainly brought hope to many persons silently suffering all around the world. Obesity is not the end. In fact, by walking to the nearest supermarket and buying a big bunch of fresh grapes, you can put yourself on the narrow road to a bright new beginning.
Image courtesy of NO2