May 13

Please find the original article (though only in German language) here:
http://www.psychotherapiepraxis.at/pt-blog/demenz-uebergewicht/

Mar 12

When I first came to Thailand, I wondered: given the healthy Thai cuisine, why are so many people – especially expats – overweight?

Take a look on any street: at least one in three expats is obese. This is a high percentage, comparable only with the ‘fattest’ States in the USA, and¬† is responsible for many of the health problems some expats have to deal with after living just for a few years in their new home.

But how exactly is ‘overweight’ actually defined? That’s an easy one: to calculate your BMI (Body Mass Index), you simply divide your weight in kilograms by the square of your height (or multiply your weight in pounds with 703 and divide the result by the square of your inches). At a height of 1.72m and 75kg weight, the formula would be: [75 √∑ (1.72 m)¬≤ = BMI 25.4] (or at 150 lbs weight and 5’5″ (65″) height: [150 √∑ 65¬≤] x 703 = 24.96). Overweight is defined as a BMI of 25.0 or greater, obesity starts at 30.0. According to doctors, a BMI higher than 27.5 imposes major risk factors for cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes and joint problems.

But what makes some of us so prone to gain weight rapidly in Thailand? Alcohol is one explanation, fats another. Of course, many expats drink too much and forget (or repress) that alcoholic beverages are real calorie bombs. And, many Thai kitchens cook with too much fat, and in the past several years, the food has become too sweet and salty; while these dishes may taste good, they are no longer healthy.

But where does this tendency to eat and drink too much derive from? One explanation is that eating and drinking is a compensation option for everyday frustration and boredom. Many expats have little to fill their days, and kill time by eating and drinking, for some, a visit to the buffet can be the highlight of the week.

As a sex therapist, I have to mention the hormonal and psychological changes experienced, particularly by aging men. In their younger years it was their daily goal to have sex and workout, now that they are older the epitome of sensual delight is enjoying their lunch or dinner … unfortunately to the chagrin of their body and often enough also of their psyche. Because obesity increases the incidence¬† of depression, a vicious spiral might be triggered driving them to eat even more. One of the difficulties in finding a balanced diet, is that eating too much often has downright addictive dynamics. This is one reason why serious weight loss programs always involve counseling and psychotherapy as an integral part of the recovery plan. One can do a lot alone – but with some outside support, success usually comes much easier and faster.

(This short article is part of a weekly series dealing with psychological expat problems and general mental health issues and was published in various newspapers and magazines in Thailand, 2011)

Jul 22

At a conference organized by the Health Promotion Fund for a Healthy Austria, experts recently lectured on approaches to resolve critical future scenarios. One of the core points was the question of the affordability of health care.

Obesity is one of the most pressing health problems and is consistent across all age and social groups. One in five pupils between six and 15 years has an excessively high body weight, eight percent of them are actually obese. Of the adults between 18 and 65 years, almost half are overweight or obese. “One consequence of these developments is an increasing wave of disease and therefore costs to the health care system, because being overweight is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers,” said Ch. H√∂rhan, head of the funds.

Stress, on the other hand, is an indirect co-causing factor for cardiovascular diseases and mental disorders – albeit indirect and thus often underestimated by health policies. According to surveys, the percentage of Europeans feeling stressed out has raised significantly over the last 10 years. The number of prescribed psychotropic drugs has also increased, as has the number of sick days due to mental problems according to one of the contributors. Among the reasons for invalidity pensions, mental illnesses is already in second place with 29 percent.

Stress can not only be caused by heavy workload, but also by financial problems, difficulties within the social environment or worries about the future. In the past few years, the influence of social, economic and social factors on the health of the population has become clearer – but still with only little consequence on health policies.

Sidenote by R.L.Fellner: according to latest research, apart from other hormonal changes involved by stress, cortisol distribution increases – under certain conditions, this can be a contributing cause for obesity (Cushing’s Syndrome / Hypercortisolism [more]).

06.01.16