Obesity in adults and children has been gradually spreading throughout western civilization for several decades now, fuelled by the increased availability of foods that are high in sugar and saturated fat, and the increased popularity of entertainment forms that involve sitting still instead of moving about in the outside world.
It is common knowledge that obesity is caused by eating too much, and this gives rise to the misconception that to cut back on what they eat is an obvious and easy way for an obese person to stop being that way. We’ve probably all looked at a very overweight person at some point in our lives and thought to ourselves: “how can they stand to be like that? Why don’t they just stop eating so much?”
It is a complete myth that obese people remain in that condition because they aren’t willing to go on a diet or they’re ignorant about what constitutes healthy food. Obese people actually tend to know more about healthy eating and nutrition than people of normal weight, because they’ve learned a lot about it in an attempt to help themselves lose weight.
The problem is that a new diet alone will very rarely be sufficient to cure an obesity sufferer. It has been in some cases, but most of the time it is not.
As a personal trainer specialising in weight management, I have attended numerous training courses on obesity and diabetes management by Discovery Learning, the leading UK experts in weight management interventions, so I now understand what’s missing from most obese people’s efforts to rid themselves of their excess weight.
To have the best chance of succeeding and returning their bodies to a healthy weight level, obese people must combine a strict dietary regime with an intense exercise program. The diet will prevent the body from consuming the things that originally caused the problem, but the exercise is needed to make the body burn away all the stockpiled fat.
This is where personal trainers come in. More and more doctors and other health professionals are advising obese people to consult personal trainers instead of dieticians or nutritionists, as medical understanding of obesity grows and the importance of physical exercise in fighting the condition becomes more accepted.
Personal trainers with the correct knowledge and training are able to do two additional things for obese clients that most other types of health professionals cannot.
Firstly, they can use behaviour modification techniques to make the client turn away from their self-destructive habits and accept that their own lifestyle is the cause of their condition. Second, they can devise an exercise program that will help the client achieve a calorie deficit of between 500 and 1000 calories a day, and guide the client through that exercise program.
But not just any personal trainer can do this for an obese person. It requires more specialized knowledge and training, beyond the minimum required qualification level for personal trainers, before a trainer is equipped to work with obese and potentially diabetic people. I began my career by doing a basic level 3 personal trainer course with Discovery, but I had to return and do the more advanced course in obesity and diabetes before National Health Service doctors were able to refer obesity sufferers to me.
Doctors sending obese people who are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes for personal training sessions is something that is happening more and more now, as health services are realising that it’s far more cost effective to pay for people to have a course of personal training sessions that it is for them to treat a diabetes sufferer on a long-term basis.
Obesity is a condition that causes expenditure amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars, pounds and euros in health services throughout the developed world, so health authorities and governments are determined to find more ways to fight its spread among adult and child populations.