We all have heard about lifestyle diseases. They are diseases that depend on how we live. Mostly they result from unhealthy eating, lack of physical activities, alcohol intake and smoking. Some of these diseases are stroke, type II diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. The diseases crawl into your system and finally squeeze the life out of you. They overwhelm the system and make it dependent on medication. It then becomes imperative to understand what predisposes you to these diseases. It is the first step towards modifying your lifestyle and ensuring that you chose the right path that offers longevity and optimizes it. The assessment is done by reviewing your physical activity factor, energy requirements, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference and family history.
The PA factor
The first step is determining your physical activity (PA) factor which refers to the amount of time you spend in motion daily. It is determined by the type of activities you engage in and it ranges from a sedentary lifestyle to an active lifestyle. The PA factor for both men and women who lead a sedentary lifestyle is 1.0. When one engages in low activities like moving around at work or doing chores at home for 30 to 60 minutes per day the PA for men becomes 1.11 and that for women is 1.12. Moderate activities that make one active for more than sixty minutes raises the PA to 1.27 for women and 1.25 for men. Combining more than sixty minutes of activities with vigorous exercises raises the factor to 1.48 for men and 1.45 for women and it is termed as high activity. To give an example, if Jane begins her day with a morning jog for 30 minutes or skips the rope for thirty minutes she is considered to engage in low activities setting her PA at 1.12 since she is a woman.
Individual energy requirements
Am certain that you are puzzled by the need to know you PA factor. It comes in handy when calculating your estimated energy requirement (EER). EER can be defined as the average energy intake that helps a person maintain their energy balance. It is what you use to create a diet that helps you to either gain or lose your weight. Luckily, there is a formula to help you calculate it and the only thing you need is your age, weight in kilograms and height in meters. The formulas are different for both men and women. They are as indicated below:
Men: EER = [662 – (9.53 X Age)] + PA X [(15.91 X weight in kg) + (539.6 X height in meters)]
Women: EER = [354 – (6.91 X Age)] + PA X [(9.36 X weight in kg) + (726 X height in meters)]
To explain better we will use Jane who has a PA factor of 1.12. We will say she is twenty-four years old, weighs 49.9 kgs and her height is 1.59 meters. Using the EER formula for women:
EER = [(354 – (6.91 x age)] + PA x [(9.36 X weight) + (726 X height)].
Age = 24
Height = 1.59 meters
Weight = 49.9 Kgs
EER = [(354 – (6.91×24)] + 1.12 x [(9.36 x 49.9) + (726 x 1.59)]
= [(354 – 165.84)] + 1.12 x [467.064 + 1,154.34]
= [188.16 + (1.12 x 1.621.404)]
= [188.16 + 1,815.97]
EER = 2004.13
Body Mass Index
Once you get your EER, the next step you take is calculating your body mass index (BMI). It is a measure that assesses the body fat and it uses your weight with respect to your height. It has a positive correlation with body fat meaning that if your BMI is high, your total body fat is also high. To get its value, you divide your weight in kilogram with your height in square meters (Weight (kg)/ Height (m2). You then compare your answer with an international chart (attached below) that indicates whether you are obese, overweight, normal or underweight.
As an example, we will still use Jane whose weight is 49.9 kg and height is 1.59 meters.
BMI = Weight (kg)/ Height (m2)
Weight (kg)/ Height (m2) = 49.9/ (1.592)
= 49.9/ 2.5281
The score obtained falls under the normal weight scale which is between 18.5 and 24.9.
Just like the BMI, the waist circumference helps you assess your body fat. The circumference lets you know the amount of fat in your abdomen. If you have an increased amount of fat in your abdomen you are at risk of diabetes, blood pressure, and heart disease. The normal waist circumference for women should be below 40 inches or 102 cm while that for men should be below 35 inches of 88cm. You measure your waist circumference by finding the top of your hipbone and bottom of your ribs. You then breathe out normally and place the tape measure in the middle of the two points and wrap it around your waist. Finally, you check your measurement. If we use Jane from our previous example, and say her waist circumference is 36.5 inches, as a woman that value is above the recommended one and it puts her at risk for lifestyle diseases.
The family medical history also helps you determine if you are at risk of lifestyle disease. The history should come from three generations. Using Jane above, she comes from a family of five and her siblings have no known conditions. However, her mother was diagnosed with high blood pressure. Her father has arthritis and complains of ulcers. Her grandfather died of a heart attack and the mother to her grandmother was diagnosed with type II diabetes. Looking at history, Jane is at risk of lifestyle diseases like heart disease and type II diabetes.
Analyzing Jane risks
Using her scores, Jane has a normal BMI which means her risk to lifestyle disease is minimal. However, her waist circumference is above the recommended one indicating that she has a lot of fat around the abdomen. She also has a family history that predisposes her to lifestyle diseases. She, therefore, has to change her lifestyle and come up with a way to deal with increased body fat like eating healthy and increasing her physical exercises to a moderate activity level.
Lifestyle diseases will always plunge you into fear because they debilitate you. However, you can take charge of your body health by understating your BMI, waist circumference and family medical history. With the knowledge, you can use your estimated energy requirement to design a diet that helps you shed off the extra weight. You can also set goals that help you reduce the risk of getting the lifestyle diseases.