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Healthy Diet Plans >>  Calories >>  Calorie Imbalance

Calorie Imbalance

The body requires a certain amount of nutrients in order to function efficiently. The requirements of an individual depend upon various factors such as age, sex, height, weight, body frame, physiology, and the activity level. A deficiency of nutrients can lead to various diseases. An excess of nutrients is equally harmful and can lead to a host of other ailments.

Ideally the calorie requirement of the body is provided by the food that we eat.

When food provides us with lesser calories than we require, it leads to weakness and other associated conditions such as anemia and hair loss. When we consume more calories than are required by the body, the excess calories get stored as fat. This can lead to obesity with its associated diseases. In order to maintain the correct balance and remain healthy, your calorie intake should equal the calorie requirements of your body.

Modern science has come up with a number of wonderful inventions that enable us to go about our life with a minimum of physical effort. Unfortunately, this sedentary lifestyle also means that our bodies are not as physically active. Our bodies therefore, do not require as many calories. However, thanks to science, there is also an abundance of food that is also easily available. This has lead to a vicious circle that causes us to eat more than our bodies require. The levels of obesity among the human population are consequently increasing at alarming levels.

What is ideal body weight?

There is no single definition of ideal body weight or desirable body weight. There are a number of methods using which you such as the Body Mass Index (BMI) using which you can find out whether your body weight is suitable for your body type. Even without referring to such tables, it is a simple enough matter to determine whether you are fit and weigh as much as you ideally should. All it requires is some awareness of our own bodies.

Body fat

 Besides body weight, the body fat and fat per cent are also important parameters in determining the health of an individual. Skin fold measurements are a good method of calculating body fat since most of the fat is stored just underneath the skin. These measurements should be taken at various points in the body such as biceps, triceps, back, abdomen, legs etc.

There are also many electric devices that measure body fat based on bio-impedance and bio-resistance. They provide a quick assessment of body composition parameters such as body fat, fat per cent, lean body mass, water content and water per cent, besides accurately measuring body weight and computing Basal Metabolic Rate.
On an average, a normal adult male has twelve per cent of body weight as fat, and a normal adult female has twenty six per cent of body weight as fat. Accordingly, obesity occurs when the percentage of body weight as fat, in total body weight, is more than fifteen per cent in men and more than twenty eight per cent in women.

Indices of weight status

Body Mass Index (BMI) and Waist Hip Ratio (WHR) are to reliable and quick indices for appraising the health of an individual with respect to body weight and fat.

Body Mass Index = Weight (kg)/Height (m)2 

Waist Hip Ratio is the ratio of the waist measured at the narrowest part between the rib-cage and hips divided by measurement of hips at the widest part. It is a simple but useful ratio. Waist hip ratios higher than 1.0 for men and 0.9 for women are associated with high risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Overweight and obesity

Obesity has become a worldwide phenomenon that afflicts mostly the rich and the affluent. A person is considered obese when his or her body weight exceeds the ideal body weight, usually in the absence of an underlying disease. A person can be considered overweight if his or her body weight is between ten to nineteen per cent more than the normal or ideal body weight. When the body weight of a person is twenty per cent or more than his or her ideal body weight, he or she is considered obese.

Obesity results due to excess accumulation of fat in the body. When more calories are consumed than are required by the body, there is gradual accumulation of fat deposits in the adipose tissue. Obesity is a gradual process that takes place over months and years. High calorie and high fat foods are very palatable to human taste buds. This is why most people find it so difficult to resist eating high fat foods, in spite of all the health problems they cause.

The other major culprit is our urban lifestyle and dependence on different tools that has made life easy and increasingly sedentary. Due to this sedentary lifestyle, our daily energy expenditure, and consequently the daily calorie requirement of our bodies has reduced. This combined with an increased calorie intake due to consumption of processed foods has lead to an increasing incidence of obesity in most parts of the world.

Health hazards of obesity

Obesity is associated with a host of problems, both physical and mental. Obese children are often picked on during their childhood and even during adulthood it can lead to problems with low self esteem. With the entire world buying the flawed ideal of skinny women and men with washboard abdominals, obesity can lead to serious inferiority complexes that can hamper an individual’s growth and development.

 In addition to this, obesity comes with an associated host of physical ailments as well. These include pain in the joints, increased possibility of developing arthritis, hypertension, diabetes, heart problems, cancer, and respiratory ailments. Because the body is in an unhealthy state when it is obese, obesity can also lead to a lower life expectancy.

Too much of anything makes you fat

 Fat is not only gained by eating fatty foods. Even if you completely eliminate the fat from your diet, you may still put on weight, and it could also lead to health complications. This is because the body can also store carbohydrates, protein, and alcohol as fat. The only effective way to limit your body from storing fat is to eat a properly balanced diet that provides your body with the requisite number of calories that it needs, and not more.


 Being underweight is a problem that is more associated with developing nations, where poverty, poor living conditions, and ignorance combine to produce malnutrition. A person is considered underweight if his or her body weight is ten to twenty per cent less than the normal or ideal body weight. If the body weight is less by twenty per cent or more than the ideal body weight, the person is grossly anorexia nervosa and bulimia. It is often aggravated by pathological conditions like fevers and hormonal disturbances.

Health hazards of underweight

Being underweight also leads to a host of problems such as general poor health, fatigue, and lower resistance to infection. In children it also results in serious growth retardation with a host of associated problems.

Submitted on January 16, 2014