We’ve all heard the term ‘obesity crisis’ being thrown around on the news and in the papers – but what exactly does this mean? Why is the UK in an obesity crisis? And why is it so important to tackle obesity?
There’s a lot of questions, so since it’s National Obesity Awareness Week this week, we thought we’d demystify some of the confusion around the topic.
Why is the UK in an ‘obesity crisis’?
In the last 20 years, the number of clinically obese Brits has doubled. Right now, 26% of adults and 16% of children aged 2-15 are obese.
And obesity rate continues to rise faster than in any other developed country, making us the most overweight country in Western Europe.
Obesity is the second biggest cause of early deaths in the UK (after smoking), and costs the NHS £5.1 billion every year.
And, if we carry on like this, by 2030 up to half of British adults could be obese.
What exactly does it mean to be ‘obese’?
The NHS define ‘obesity’ as being ‘very overweight with a lot of body fat’.
BMI (Body Mass Index) is the most common way of diagnosing somebody as obese. BMI is a score worked out from your height and weight. Anybody with a BMI score of 30 or more is classified as being obese (a score of 25+ suggests you are overweight. To be a healthy weight you want your BMI to be somewhere in between 18.5 and 24.9)
Diagnosing obesity in children is slightly different, because the BMI score also takes into account their age and gender. An obese child would be in or above the 95th BMI centile, suggesting they are heavier than 95% of other children their age.
Why is being obese bad for your health?
- Obesity can reduce your life expectancy by 3 – 10 years.
- Obesity can lead to serious health conditions like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma.
- Being obese puts you at greater risk of stroke, some types of cancer, and heart, liver and kidney disease.
- Obesity can negatively affect your mental health, leading to depression and low self-esteem.
- Day-to-day problems caused by obesity include: difficulty doing physical activity, breathlessness, feeling tired and sluggish, aches and pains in your back and joints.
…But it’s not all doom and gloom
In our culture of junk food advertising, cheap and convenient fast food, and spending too much time in front of a screen – letting your weight creep up is easily done!
But the government are running lots of schemes to try and tackle the obesity crisis, with a target to halve child obesity by 2030. Campaigns like Change4Life educates families on how to make healthier choices, and the sugar tax aims to discourage consumption of fizzy drinks.
Plus there are plenty of ways you can start creating healthy habits right now, to pass on to your children, grandchildren, friends and family.
Just a few small changes are all it takes to make a big difference to maintaining a healthy weight.
Eat a healthy diet
Here are some quick wins for making healthier food choices:
- Eat five (or more!) portions of fruit and vegetables every day
- Be aware of your portion sizes – men, women and children will all require different sized meals. Download this guide to help you measure out suitable portion sizes using just your hands – handy!
- Plan your meals (and your shopping list!) in advance, so that you’re always prepared with nutritious, healthy food.
- Use the Eatwell Guide when planning your meals to ensure a healthy, balanced diet.
Upping your activity levels will help to keep you and your family at a healthy weight. But don’t worry if you’re not particularly sporty or dread the gym, any type of movement counts as exercise! Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Playing family games together like ‘it’ or dodgeball
- Walking the dog (if you don’t have one – borrow one!)
- Gardening (if you don’t have a garden, why not volunteer at a community project?)_
- A new hobby like: horse riding, circus skills, hula hooping, fencing
- Walking instead of driving/getting the bus (even just getting off the bus a stop sooner and walking the rest of the way!)
Use our Hh method to break unhealthy habits and replace them with new, healthy ones!
Our behaviour change experts use the ‘Habit before the habit’ (Hh) method to help people make healthy habits second nature. This method is very simple, but not easy!
It involves identifying the things that cause you to make an unhealthy choice, and experiment with making small changes to your routine to try and change that behaviour. ‘Experiment, Fail, Learn, Repeat’ is a useful mantra to keep in mind when trying to change a behaviour. Find out more about how to use the Hh method here.
Do it together
You’ll be most successful in maintaining healthy habits if you have the support of the people around you. That’s why attending a weight management group can be so useful if you have a bit of weight to lose to reach a healthy BMI. BeeZee Bodies groups are tailored to different types of people, so you’ll be able to attend with likeminded people like you; we run groups for families, for pregnant women and new mums, just for men, just for women, or mixed groups – depending on your needs.
You’ll learn lots of useful nutrition information to enable you to make healthier food choices, be supported in getting more active and discover new activities, and understand how to make long lasting change for a healthier lifestyle. You’ll also make loads of new friends and be able to support each other.
To find a group, drop us a line or give us a call, and we’ll help to find the best programme for you.