Does being overweight really matter?

Suppose that you realise that you are overweight. Perhaps you have not got back into shape after having kids or maybe you have always been a little plumper than you would like. Is it really a problem?

overweightA 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 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 2010, just over a quarter of adults (26% of both men and women 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 problems with cholesterol. 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% of deaths from coronary heart disease are directly linked to an unhealthy diet. The World Health Organization estimates that somewhere between 1 and 24% 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. Reducing your weight even by 5 or 10% can have a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels.

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 salt, lower fat consumption and a huge increase in fruit and vegetable consumption.

Although the exact relationships are not fully understood, diet and cancer have an association too. A recent report suggested that as many as 40% 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.

Being overweight is an increasing problem in the workplace and I discuss this, and simple ways to help you and your staff tackle it, in The Corporate Wellness Bible. Get in touch to find out more.


Extracted from The Corporate Wellness Bible by Kate Cook ( To discuss how your business can benefit from The Corporate Wellness Bible, including how you can order bespoke versions for your company, please email or call David Grant on 01865 514 888.


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