Here’s a scary fact for you that was published in the Guardian in November last year: 26.9% of the UK are OBESE. To give you an idea of what this statistic means, the NHS website states that 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 5 children (aged 10-11) are obese. It’s not surprising then that as part of the National Obesity Awareness Week this week, everyone has been asked to look at their lifestyles and make healthier choices. Obesity is one of the main causes of heart attacks and diabetes – all of which can kill. It’s no joke, obesity is definitely an example where bigger is not better.
Am I Obese?
If you google “definition of obese” you will get something like this:
- extremely fat in a way that is dangerous for health
- from the latin obesus “having eaten until fat”
- BMI (Body Mass Index) of 30 and above
- overweight to a degree which causes medical complications
- well above ones normal weight
From a personal trainers point of view, we need to look at BMI, Body Fat and Waist to Hip ratios.
Body Mass Index looks at weight and height. This is the most common screening tool used as an indicator as to a person’s “normal weight” and whether someone is carrying excess fat. The NHS accepts that BMI cannot definitively diagnose whether someone is obese or not, as muscular people will have a high BMI but without the excess fat. As a guideline:
- 18.5-24.9 = healthy weight
- 25-29.9 = overweight
- 30-39.9 = obese
- 40+ = severely obese
WAIST & HIP MEASUREMENTS
It is generally acknowledged that people who store more weight around their waist are more at risk of health problems. Whilst BMI may indicate that there excess body fat, it doesn’t look at where that body fat is stored. Research has shown that you can have a normal BMI but carry more of the weight around the middle and therefore be more at risk of health problems.
The NHS states that if you have a waist circumference for women of 94 cm (37 inch) or more, or for men 80 cm (31.5 inch) or more, you are at greater risk of health related issues. In terms of the hip to waist ratio; women with 0.85 or higher, and men with 0.9 or higher are said to have higher levels of visceral fat which can lead to diabetes and strokes.
Getting your body fat measured will provide a breakdown of how much adipose tissue you have and how much lean mass you have. This is a clear indicator of whether you are storing too much fat and whether you have a healthy amount of body fat or whether this is too high.
Depending on how those measurements are taken, you may also find out exactly where that fat is being stored.
What Can I Do About It?
Calorie controlled diets, being more active, eating slower and avoiding situations where there’s an opportunity to overeat, getting psychological support – asking for help; there are so many ways to get the support you need to make a positive change.