The Obesity Crisis

In the UK, a shocking 62% of people are overweight, 25% are obese and 2-3% are severely obese! This week, in aid of National Obesity Awareness Week, we’ve answered some the most commonly asked questions about the causes and concerns of being overweight and obese and suggest how you can maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.

What are the biggest causes of obesity?

Unsurprisingly, poor diet is more responsible for causing obesity than lack of exercise. Too much sugar, processed food, calorie-dense foods, sugary drinks and ever-increasing portions are the main causes of obesity in the UK. We live in an obesogenic environment – where we encourage the population to eat unhealthy foods, with temptations wherever we turn.

What are the health risks of being overweight and obese?

Being overweight and obese will cause a huge increase in risk in:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Many cancers
  • Arthritis
  • Reduced fertility

How does being overweight and obese effect the body physically, psychologically and socially?

Being overweight and obese can also cause negative effects both psychologically and socially. It can lead to poor self-esteem, depression and can decrease your employment prospects, average wage and productivity at work. So, it’s not just your health that will deteriorate!

How can someone tell whether they’re a healthy weight or not?

The BMI (body mass index) is a good indicator of whether you are healthy or not. A BMI of 18.5 – 24.9 is the ideal range. You can calculate your BMI by dividing weight in kg by height in metres squared. It’s worth noting, however, that BMI may be high in people with a very high muscle mass – so it isn’t always an accurate measure of obesity. Another useful way to check that you are a healthy weight is to measure waist to hip ratio. This reflects abdominal obesity which is a good indicator of health-risk. Usually, a waist to hip ratio over 0.85 in women and over 1 in men suggests someone needs to lose weight.

How much does an unhealthy weight reduce life expectancy by?

A BMI of 30 – 35 (obese) cuts three years off average life, while a BMI of over 40 (severely obese) cuts eight to ten years off average life – equivalent to a lifetime of smoking.

Are some people more likely to become overweight/obese than others? If so why?

Research suggests that it is more lifestyle than genetics related. So, obese parents may raise obese kids due to their poor habits rather than the genes themselves. With 1 in 5 10/11 year old children now obese, this is a big issue.

If you carry an extra stone, or two stones, how does it affect your health?

Losing just 5-10% of your excess weight can help your health – helps breathing and reduces the risk of diabetes…and every extra pound you carry puts an extra 4lbs of weight through your knee joints – no wonder we are seeing an increase in the rate of knee replacements!

What’s the best way to lose weight?

VavistaLife suggests that you should avoid fad diets which just lead to the weight being regained, and more! Willpower doesn’t work when we are tired and stressed and can leave us reaching for sugary, processed foods. Instead, make small changes to your overall lifestyle which will become habits. Move more, eat smaller portions, avoid processed food and sugar wherever possible – and get more sleep; as we eat more when we are tired to try to get an energy fix. Focus on health not weight and nutrients not calories.

Let us guide you through small, science-backed changes that you can make to tackle your own, personal health issues with our programmes, developed by Dr Sally Norton, our health and weight-loss expert. They can help you towards a healthier and happier life.