June 2, 2021

Preventing obesity: diet, exercise, relaxation and sun

You may be worried about obesity due to alarming weight gain, family history, a related medical condition or quite simply because you want to stay healthy. Whatever the reason, wanting to prevent obesity is a good thing and it’s worth considering all our advice. Preventing obesity helps to reduce the risks of a whole range of health problems, from heart disease to diabetes, certain types of cancer and many more.
Like many chronic illnesses, obesity can be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle: staying active, eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, etc.


Obesity can be prevented by following the basic principles of a healthy diet. Below are the main changes you can make to your eating habits to lose weight and prevent obesity.

Five portions of fruit and vegetables per day

Try eating at least five to seven portions of fruit and vegetables every day. Fruit and vegetables are low in calories. According to the WHO, there is compelling evidence that eating them lowers the risk of obesity. Their fibre content in particular helps you feel full with fewer calories, which helps prevent weight gain. They also contain higher quantities of nutrients and are associated with a lower risk of diabetes and insulin resistance.

Avoid processed food

Highly processed food such as white bread, ready meals and many packaged snacks contain empty calories (calories that provide no essential nutrients). A 2019 study published in Cell Metabolism found that study subjects given a highly processed diet consumed more calories and gained weight, while those given a diet low in processed food ate less and lost weight. For example, consider using the Nutriscore when you go shopping.

Reduce your sugar intake

It’s important to limit your consumption of added sugar. The recommended daily dose is 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 teaspoons per day for men. The main sources of added sugar to avoid include sweetened drinks, such as sodas and energy or sports drinks, cereal-based desserts such as tarts, biscuits and cakes, fruit juices (which are rarely 100% fruit juices), sweets and dairy-based desserts such as ice cream.

Limit your intake of artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are associated with obesity and diabetes. If you think you need to use a sweetener, try a bit of honey, which is an effective and natural alternative.

Avoid saturated fat

Studies show that eating food high in saturated fat is a factor in obesity. Try instead to find sources of healthy fat (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat), such as avocados, olive oil and nuts. Even healthy fat must be limited to 20% to 35% of your daily calorie intake, or less for those with high cholesterol or a vascular disease.

Keep an eye on what you drink

Drink more water and eliminate all sweetened drinks from your diet. Unsweetened tea and coffee are also good. Avoid energy drinks and sports drinks, which not only contain a high quantity of added sugar but are proven (in the case of energy drinks) to pose a potentially higher risk to the cardiovascular system.

Obesity is now considered a global epidemic affecting over 650 million people, according to the WHO (World Health Organisation).

Cook meals at home

Studies on how frequently people cook at home have found that men and women who prepare meals at home were less likely to gain weight. They were also less likely to develop type 2 diabetes.


Most experts recommend that the average adult has at least 150 minutes of intensely moderate physical activity per week. This means at least 30 minutes per day, five days per week.

Swimming, cycling or running for 20 minutes two or three times per week is enough to improve your physical condition and lift your mood.

However, the best exercise to maintain a good weight-health balance is brisk walking. Researchers found that people who walk at an energetic or fast pace are more likely to weigh less and have a lower body mass index (BMI) and waist size compared with people who do other activities.

In addition, experts recommend remaining active throughout the day. At the office, you can use a standing desk, take stretching breaks or have meetings while walking.

Keeping an eye on your level of activity or viewing your progress can be very motivating. There are now many apps and connected objects dedicated to health and physical activity. All you have to do is choose the right one, using the tips in this article for example.


Chronic stress increases levels of the stress hormone cortisol and causes weight gain. This can also cause poor dietary choices, as cortisol and other stress hormones can increase “carbohydrate cravings” and make it difficult to exercise good judgement and willpower.

Consider the many healthy ways of beating stress and find the one that suits you best. Go for a walk every day, practise yoga or tai chi regularly, meditate, listen to your favourite music, meet friends or do something that you find relaxing and that makes you happy.

Studies show that having a pet can lower blood pressure. Having a dog in particular can also increase your level of physical activity and stop you gaining weight.


The role of sleep in overall well-being cannot be overstated. Good sleep can even help prevent obesity. The recommended amount is seven hours or more per day for adults aged over 18 and more for younger people.

Studies have established a link between going to bed late and weight gain. This applies to children, teenagers and adults.

To reduce sleep disturbances, it’s obviously best to limit your screen time. Due to remote working and mass use of social media, this goal might seem difficult to achieve. Here are a few hints and tips for managing your relationship with your smartphone better.

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