What are overweight and obesity?

Obesity is growing to epidemic proportions globally. A body mass index over 25 is categorized as overweight, and a body mass index over 30 is considered obese (World Health Organization, n.d). According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity is a severe chronic disease. Within the United States, the prevalence rate for obesity was 42.4% between 2017 and 2018 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022). About one in every three adults are overweight, and more than two in five adults are obese (National Institute of Diabetes, 2021). In conclusion, obesity is a staggering issue.

How do overweight and obesity happen?

Obesity occurs for a variety of reasons. Obesity is generally caused by consuming too much and physical inactivity (National Health Services, 2019). It is caused by consuming too many calories stored as fat when an individual is physically inactive. It is also due to a poor diet as a gradual result of eating poorly. A poor diet includes eating a large amount of processed or fast food, consuming too much alcohol, eating out a lot, eating large portions, comfort eating, and consuming sugary drinks (National Health Services, 2019). A lack of physical activity and a sedentary lifestyle is another important factor; when the calories are not burned off. As a result, it leads to weight gain. Genetics also play a role in obesity. Medical reasons such as hypothyroidism and Cushing’s syndrome are also factors (National Health Services, 2019). When obesity does occur, an individual may face various health issues.

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What are the symptoms of overweight and obesity?

Obesity can lead to metabolic syndrome, atherosclerosis, high blood cholesterol, sleep disorders, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and even cancer (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, n.d).

What are the causes of overweight and obesity in Oriental Medicine?

According to Lingshu Jing, one of the two parts of the Huangdi Neijing (Yellow Emperor's Inner Canon), obesity means people have fat, ointment, and meat. It categorizes obesity as an issue caused by Spleen and Kidney deficiency and Liver depression (Li, Zhang, & Li, 2020). The standard manifestations are phlegm, dampness, heat, and blood stasis (Li, Zhang, & Li, 2020).

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What Oriental Medicine can do to help with weight management?

Oriental medicine can help with weight management in various ways, such as acupuncture, traditional Chinese herbs, moxibustion, cupping, and diet. Obesity is mainly a lifestyle issue; therefore, one can combat it by introducing one of the following Oriental medicine modalities. Acupuncture can be used to help with weight management because acupuncture is involved with neuroendocrine axis regulation. Therefore, it regulates eating habits and energy metabolism (Zhang et. Al, 2018 ). Traditional Chinese herbs are used to suppress appetite, increase metabolism, and burn fat. He Ye, also known as the lotus leaf, Fu Ling, and Huang Qi can all be used for weight loss (Wang, 2019). Moxibustion can also be used to help with weight management. Moxibustion uses moxa to warm body regions and acu-points by stimulating circulation and inducing a better flow of Qi and Blood (Hsieh, Tseng, Shen, &Chuang, 2018). Cupping is another holistic modality to manage weight. It is done by stimulating the skin's sensory nerves (Chirali, 2014). Cupping is used for digestive system diseases, high blood pressure, and weight loss (Chirali, 2014). Finally, diet is an effective way for weight management. Dieting works if an individual takes in fewer calories. Therefore, it is crucial to eat “good” foods and avoid “bad” ones. It can also change an individual’s behavior and relationship with food (Harvard Medical School, n.d).

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