This week is Obesity Awareness Week – so the spotlight is definite trained on the nation’s waistlines and our weight this week. We regularly see and hear the headlines about the prevalence of adult and childhood obesity in the UK. 1 in 4 adults in the UK are obese and 39% of adults in the UK are classed as overweight.
Also we regularly hear in the media that as a nation we are not active enough. Only 36% of adults are participating in moderate intensity activity at least once a week. To stay healthy, adults aged 19-64 should try to be active daily and should do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week (or 75 minutes vigorous aerobic activity), and strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (see the full guidance).
Being overweight can have a dramatic impact on our long term health. This includes an increase risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, as well as increasing the risk of 10 common causes of cancer. Not to mention potentially impacting on mobility and quality of life in later years. So checking out and monitoring whether you are overweight or obese is an important first step to looking after your health.
Working out if you are a Health Weight:
Your Body Mass Index (BMI) is a ratio of your weight and height. To work it out divide your weight in Kg by your height in meters squared (e.g. 77.1Kg / (1.81m x 1.81m) = a BMI of 23.53.
If you can’t be bothered with the maths or converting your measurements into metric, checkout the NHS Healthy Weight Calculator. This will do the working out for you from either metric or imperial measurements. The number you end up with is your BMI, but what does your this mean?
- a BMI of between 18.5 and 24.9 is in the normal health weight range – if that’s you fantastic keep it up.
- if your BMI is between 25 and 29.9 is in the ‘over-weight’ range and you need to be thinking about some changes to lifestyle to return to health weight
- if your BMI is over 30 I’m afraid you are in the ‘obese’ range which is likely to impact on your long term health – but it’s not too late to make changes to address this.
The good news is that you can do something to take you back to a healthy weight. At its most simple the advice to ‘Eat less, and move more’ will get you started! To lose weight you need to have a calorie deficit, using more calories than you consume each day. Eating healthily and controlling the calories you eat and drink are important, but you can more easily and effectively create a deficit if you are more active and using more calories.
There are a mass of ‘diets’ out there and if they work for you fine – but many people find that once they stop a diet they start to put weight back on. Following the government ‘Eat Well’ health eating guidance would help most people make healthy changes to their diet.
Tips for healthy eating:
- Be aware of what you eat – noting down what you eat throughout the day may reveal where your weaknesses are and will make you more aware
- Think about portion size – try a smaller plate to help eat less
- Plan ahead – then you’ll have healthy food in to prepare and eat, making it easier to avoid the temptation of unhealthy foods or a take away
Being more physically active can take many forms. You can throw yourself into a new sport or head to the gym, but it doesn’t need to be formal sport or exercise as any form of activity will help. That could just be moving about more in your daily life or going for a walk.
Tips for being more active:
- Try to make activity part of your everyday life – walking more (to the shops or to work), using the stairs, housework etc
- Find an activity you enjoy – if it’s a chore you’ll soon lose interest and stop
- Build up steadily – increase your strength and fitness over time, doing too much too early will leave you sore and invite injury
- Involve the family or an exercise buddy – you can motivate each other and you’re less likely to back out if you letting someone else down
- Remember why you are doing it – this should help keep you motivated