Weight Loss Wednesday April 27, 2016

Is the obesity rate overtaking the overweight rate?

We're getting fatter, there's no escaping the fact that we are increasing in size, weight and girth.

Our food habits and sedentary lifestyles are to blame; or rather we are to blame for eating the wrong foods and not moving about enough. We need to make a change soon because obesity statistics are catching up with the overweight ones.

Don't believe us? Here's the evidence:

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 39% of adults are overweight and 13% are obese, or put another way, out of 1.9 billion overweight adults worldwide 600 million are obese. The WHO aren't the only ones to spot an obesity trend because a recent study published in The Lancet compared the body mass index (BMI) of 20 million adults from 1975 to 2014. They found obesity has tripled in men and doubled in women.

Lead researcher Professor Ezzat describes this as 'an epidemic of severe obesity' because the study showed worldwide levels of obesity have risen from 105 million in 1975 to 641 million in 2014.

Closer to home, the study indicated there were 6.8 million obese men and 7.7 million obese women in the UK and that the effects of obesity, including heart disease and diabetes, cost the NHS £6 billion a year.

What is Overweight?

You'll be classed as overweight by the NHS if you have a BMI of 25 to 29.9.

What is Obese?

You'll be classed as obese by the NHS if you have a BMI of 30 to 39.9.

Those with a BMI of over 40 are classed as severely obese.

A BMI is not always the best indicator of health. Muscular people like rugby players can pack a high BMI for example so another indicator is waist measurement. A male waist measurement of over 94cms and a female waist measurement of over 80cms means you're likely to develop obesity-related problems, according to the NHS.

Why is it a problem - aren't you just fat-shaming?

Fat shaming is a fairly new concept that describes critical or offensive remarks made about overweight and obese folk. We're not fat shaming here - you're gorgeous. What we're doing is pointing out that if your BMI or waist measurement is too high, you're putting yourself in danger. Obesity can cause the following life-threatening conditions:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Breast cancer and bowel cancer
  • Stroke

Why Is Obesity Gaining Pace?

Usually it's a case of eating more calories than we burn off. Poor diet and exercise levels are the main reasons for obesity.

  • Diet

Years ago we weighed less because we ate differently. Whilst our new dishes taste amazing, they are not healthy. Packaged sauces contain sugar, salt and fat. Only recently did some sauce makers start labelling their jars as 'once a week items', which is a pretty big hint that we're eating the wrong stuff. However, the government's top health advisor Susan Jebb of Oxford University, has said that environmental factors have prompted the crisis, not self control.

"Obesity has increased so greatly over the last few decades....That's not a national collapse in willpower. It's something about our environment that has changed." Health Advisor at Oxford University, Susan Jebb

Susan Jebb believes that an individual's genes and the wide availability of unhealthy snacks make it difficult to cut down.

This may well be the case, but the fact is, obesity kills. It may be harder to cut down on unhealthy foods than it was years ago, but it's still the best way to live a healthy lifestyle. You don't have to go hungry - just make healthy food choices. Bananas versus crisps, or a turkey salad and pepper wrap versus a mayonnaise packed sandwich for example. If you need some support, your doctor's surgery is likely to have a healthy eating nurse who can put an eating plan together for you.

  • Exercise

Sedentary lifestyles are contributing to our obesity. Many of us sit still for eight hours a day in front of a computer then we watch TV or use the internet at home. Sitting still can lead to health problems - not just the obesity related ones. Tech-neck, backache and sight problems are all linked to computer work too. Unless you're a postman or an exercise-in-your-free-time fanatic, it's likely you are short on the stuff.

What Can We Do?

There's no need to run around screaming in horror, although this would burn some calories. There are steps we can take improve our health from overweight to healthy weight, or from obese to overweight to healthy weight. It is achievable and frankly, essential, no matter how obese you are right now.

Cut down on fatty, sugary and salt filled foods. Instead eat more fruit and vegetables. Cooking from fresh is simple too. Instead of the sugar-laded jar of pasta sauce, open a tin of tomatoes and stir basil and pepper through it - that's healthy pasta sauce right there. Sure it'll taste different - it'll taste of health. It won't be long until you prefer the taste and remember all the flavours from herbs you can experiment with.

Try to move about more. You don't need a gym membership because walking, running, taking the stairs and playing football in the park are free.

If you want to join a gym then some people find classes are more likely to keep them motivated. Swimming is great exercise for those with joint pain or those who haven't exercised for years. An exercise buddy can work wonders too because we're more afraid of letting someone down that we are about preventing diabetes.

,p>Only better food and exercise choices are going to bring down the ever-increasing obesity levels. For the sake of your health and your family's happiness, let's get some proper food on the table and some blood pumping.

Prof Ezzat of the Lancet study believes that the chances of us attaining the WHO's target of no increase in obesity above 2010's levels by 2025 are 'close to zero'. Let's prove the professor wrong.

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