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Healthy Weight Management

Being overweight or underweight creates a burden on our bodies that over time may lead to more complicated and serious conditions affecting our cardiovascular (heart) systems, neurological systems (brain and nerves function) and immune systems to name a few. In North America, the rates of obesity and being overweight are rising, which correlates to the rising numbers of people with heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke and diabetes.

Weight management is not simply based on how much you eat or how much you weigh. There are a number of factors to consider.

What’s your risk?
BMI and Waist Circumference

Are you at a healthy weight? Are you at a healthy BMI (Body-Mass-Index) level and is your waist circumference in a risk free zone?

BMI is a calculation based on your height and weight (kg/m2). A BMI of 25-30 puts you at risk for health problems and one over 30 is at high risk. A waist circumference >88cm in women and >102cm in men also increases risks for serious health problems.

Physiological Factors
Fat Cells

Hyperplastic obesity is related to the number of adipocytes (fat cells) in the body, and comes mostly from the mother’s diet while in the womb and in early life. It is harder to develop new fat cells as adults, so this type starts in childhood and leads to fewer health concerns than other types.

Hypertrophic obesity is related to the size of each fat cell. Acquired later in life, this is associated with diabetes, heart disease and hypertension with fat distribution particularly around the waist.

Brown fat cells have an increased capacity to metabolize fatty acids versus white fat. Lean people tend to have a higher ratio of brown to white fat although the amount of brown fat on average in people today is very small. People who are predisposed to obesity and with more white fat cells are more sensitive to weight gain and in order to maintain a lower weight they would need to restrict food intake to 25% less than a lean person of similar weight and body size.

Yo-Yo Effect

Too many times, when people want to and try to lose weight, they fail and end up with more weight than they started off with and become even more disappointed. Why is that?

Consider the Set Point Theory: The body is always trying to maintain a balance – a homeostatic set point – and each person has a programmable ‘set point’ weight. When you diet and the fat cells shrink, your brain will tell you to EAT. If you continue to ignore this natural urge, eventually when the signal becomes too strong and overpowering, you will give in and over eat. This results in putting the ‘set point’ at an even higher level. And the ‘Yo-Yo’ vicious cycle continues.


Other physiological factors such as the production and maintenance of serotonin from the brain is important to help a person feel good and satisfied, and have a healthy appetite. Low levels may lead to an increased appetite and binge eating. There are a number of natural products and remedies that may be recommended by a Naturopathic Doctor that can help to increase serotonin levels or its precursors if needed.

Weight Management Protocol

Weight management with a Naturopathic Doctor would include a thorough intake, physical exam and possible lab tests to assess concurrent conditions (e.g. diabetes) or rule out other underlying conditions such as thyroid diseases. From there, an individually designed protocol would be implemented including an in-depth nutritional consultation, lifestyle counseling, emotional and psychological support, stress management if needed and recommendations of natural health products that may help to enhance the weight loss (e.g. moderate appetite/increase satiety, increase metabolism, increase insulin sensitivity/lower blood sugars as needed).

As always, exercise plays a very important role in your weight, through both cardiovascular and weight-bearing (muscle toning) exercises. Acupuncture may also be used as an adjunctive treatment to help in controlling the appetite and supporting the body’s metabolic and digestive processes.

Healthy weight management is not about starving yourself. It is about what you eat and how you live & eat; feeding yourself with healthy foods, exercising and having a healthy attitude and approach to life. It is about a consistent and sustained approach that is achieved step-by-step on a daily basis, leading to an overall healthy lifestyle.

You can be at a healthy weight with a healthy BMI and waist circumference. And you can do it in a healthy way!

Take charge of your health and wellness! Take control of your weight and make a difference for yourself! You deserve it!


Charlene Chan B.Sc, ND
Naturopathic Doctor
Mississauga Wellness