This series is a release of the book chapters from Kate Cook’s Wellness Guide 2016. To buy the book click here: http://www.infideas.com/books/kate-cooks-wellness-plan/
In this chapter, Kate goes in depth into being overweight and any health implications that may come with it.
Judging by the newspaper headlines screaming about some new statistic or research about obesity, you’d think there was a moral obligation to be thin.
Often the subtext is that fat people get sick and are a burden on our medical resources. And then there are the images of super-slim models and celebrities that confront us in magazines and on our TV and movie screens. The underlying message here is that this is the way you’re supposed to look, especially if you want to be happy and successful, not to mention being sexually attractive. There are more overweight than starving people on the planet and unfortunately that’s not because we’ve solved the world’s hunger problems. It’s enough to make you choke on your chocolate bar, isn’t it?
Obesity is undeniably a growing problem in the Western world, due mainly to the over-consumption of the wrong kinds of foods and decreased activity levels. Experts warn of the host of health dangers to which carrying too much weight exposes you, including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and, for women in particular (though not exclusively), fertility problems. It’s not guaranteed that you’ll develop these kinds of health problems – obesity just heightens your risk, which is of course why most of us just carry on regardless – until something goes wrong. The chances are that if you’re already suffering any of the conditions mentioned, your doctor has grilled you on your diet and suggested losing weight.
For the majority of us, slimming down is more of a preventative health measure or something we want to do for cosmetic reasons: i.e. we just don’t like the way we look. This is fine, as long as it isn’t interfering with daily life and manifesting itself as disordered eating (anorexia, bulimia, faddy eating and so on). If that is the case for you, please seek help through a doctor or therapist. Life is too short and too precious not to enjoy it to the full.
Working out if you’re really overweight is easily done using the Body Mass Index calculation. The BMI is far from perfect, so it is not without its critics (partly because if you’re quite well-muscled, you’ll be heavy, not fat, because muscle weighs more than fat) but you have to start somewhere! All you have to do is weigh yourself and record the result in kilograms. Then measure your height in metres. Then do the following sum:
weight in kilograms divided by (height in metres × height in metres) = BMI
You weigh 70 kg and you are 1.6 metres tall
70 ÷ (1.6 × 1.6) =
70 ÷ 2.56 = 27.34
BMI = 27.34
Check your own result against the ranges below
BMI for men BMI for women
Under 20 under 19 underweight
20–24.9 19–24.9 normal
25–29.9 25–29.9 overweight
30 plus 30 plus obese
Many experts are now saying that abdominal fat is the killer, with apple-shaped people who have relatively slim hips and a larger waist being more at risk from developing heart disease than the pear-shaped – those who carry their fat on their hips and thighs. The ideal waist measurement for men is less than 95 cm (37 inches) and less than 80 cm (32 inches) for women. Over 100 cm (40 inches) for a man and over 90 cm (35 inches) for a woman indicates the greatest risk to health.
We can blame our parents for lots of things, including a tendency to gain weight. However, much of ‘hereditary’ weight gain can also be explained by learned behaviour. For instance, if you come from a family that loves food, overeating may be part of your lifestyle, but habits can be unlearned.
Your RMR, or resting metabolic rate, is the number of calories your body needs to maintain its vital functions. This is partly to do with genetic inheritance. A friend who is a similar height and weight to you may well be able to eat more than you and not gain weight. This is very annoying, but you’re probably better at other things than he or she is. Human beings are not boilers so we all process our food resources differently, depending on a range of factors. Pure calorie calculations only provide a basic guide. There are two other things to remember. First, if you have less body fat and more muscle, your metabolism will be higher, as muscle burns up more calories than fat. That’s why including exercise in your weight loss plan really works. Second, don’t try to cut calories drastically, as your metabolic rate will slow to adjust – and you’ll just feel hungry all the time. Eating less but eating well is the key to long-term weight loss.
Does being overweight really matter?
Suppose that you realise that you are overweight. Perhaps you have not got back into shape after having children or maybe you have always been a little plumper than you would like. Is it really a problem?
A few curves and a couple of extra kilos can be flattering and sensual – and that goes for men as well as women. So when does a little plumpness become unacceptable? It depends on your viewpoint. If carrying a few extra kilos doesn’t bother you, then it is not a health issue. If it annoys you because you want to be in better shape, or it diminishes your confidence or stops you wearing the clothes you want to wear, then maybe you should do something about it. If you have more than a few extra kilos, it does start to matter and when you’re properly overweight it starts to matter very much indeed.
In 2014, just over a quarter of adults (25.6 per cent of people aged 16 or over) in England were classified as obese. Alarmingly children are getting larger too – for the same period, around three in ten boys and girls (aged 2 to 15) were classed as either overweight or obese.
Obesity makes everyday life uncomfortable is so many ways, such as being unable to run for a bus, a lack of choice in clothes, rude stares and comments from other, thinner, people, and sleep and fertility problems. It is also the commonest cause of ill health and potentially fatal diseases. Obesity contributes to heart disease, diabetes, gallstones and some cancers. Just being overweight – and that’s more than say a kilo or so – can raise your blood pressure and give you health problems. Even dental decay is more common in overweight people.
In case you’re in any doubt as to why being overweight does matter, here are some fat facts to consider:
According to the British Heart Foundation, heart and circulatory disease is the UK’s biggest killer. Although the numbers are in fact slightly lower than twenty years ago, this is because of medical advances, not because we are getting healthier! There are other risk factors too, such as smoking, poor psychological health and inherited infirmities, but the truth is that 30 per cent of deaths from coronary heart disease are directly linked to an unhealthy diet.
What about fasting?
One diet that has been gaining a lot of good publicity recently is the Fast (or 5:2) Diet. It may sound like a fad but research is lending weight to the theory that eating a reduced diet two days per week and eating normally the rest of the time can improve both your health and your waistline and even increase your lifespan. In The Fast Diet: The Secret of Intermittent Fasting – Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, Live Longer, Mimi Spencer and Dr Michael Mosley claim that the fasting works by preventing your body from going into fat-storage mode. In prehistoric times when food couldn’t be stored we weren’t always able to eat every day and so the body is used to intermittent fasting. And by giving your body time to recover from processing food on the ‘fast days’ you enable it to repair itself.
The World Health Organization estimates that somewhere between 1 and 24 per cent of coronary heart disease is due to doing less than two and a half hours of moderate activity a week.
The fatter you are, the greater your risk. A weight gain of just
10 kg doubles your risk of heart disease. If you are apple-shaped, with more fat around your middle, your risk of heart disease is greater than if you’re pear-shaped, with more fat on your bottom. Divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement (in centimetres). If the result is more than 0.95 for a man or 0.87 for a woman, you are apple-shaped.
Excess weight plays a part in high blood pressure, which can lead to blood clots, stroke and heart attacks. You can reduce these risks through diet: less processed food, which tends to be higher in salt, a huge increase in fruit and vegetable consumption and eating healthy fat, such as the omega-3s found principally in fish.
Although the exact relationships are not fully understood, diet and cancer have an association too. A recent report suggested that as many as 40 per cent of cancers have a dietary link. Breast cancer risk rises with a high fat diet or being overweight.
Clearly there’s still a lot of research to be done, but it is certain that being overweight isn’t fun and it isn’t clever – and it can be about a lot more than the way you look.
Kate Cook is a nutrition and wellbeing expert of over 20 years and author of 8 books – to read more please click here: www.katecook.biz
To book a call with Kate, please click this link: https://go.oncehub.com/KateCook
To buy the book click here: http://www.infideas.com/books/kate-cooks-wellness-plan/
Credit to Infinite Ideas Limited