Being overweight and obese puts you at risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, all of which increase your risk of stroke too.
The best way of controlling your weight is through a balance of eating healthily and keeping as active as you can, sitting less and moving more. Unhealthy eating habits tend to run in families. You may learn bad eating habits from your parents when you're young and continue them into adulthood.
Children and adults are spending a lot of time sitting down, at desks, on the sofa watching screens or in cars. They are also eating and drinking too many high calorie foods and not exercising enough to burn off the excess calories.
One quarter of under ten year olds are also overweight or obese in Northern Ireland and our young people are amongst the most inactive in the UK.
Our charity is helping to tackle rising levels of obesity amongst young people through Chester's Challenge and Heartley's Heros School Programmes, which teaches children the importance of eating a healthy diet and keeping active from an early age.
Obesity is generally caused by consuming more calories, often contained in high fat and sugar foods, than your burn off through physical activity. The excess energy is stored by the body as fat.
There are also underlying health problems that can lead to obesity.
We have different types of fat in our bodies. Some body fat is needed to stay well. However too much fat around your waist can increase your risk of becoming unwell.
Visceral fat is the fat that surrounds our internal organs such as the heart and liver. Carrying too much visceral fat puts you at greater risk of health problems including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.
Our health checks include a full body composition and BMI assessment that measures your weight and visceral fat.
Visceral fat can:
- Increase your blood pressure
- Raise your blood cholesterol
- Increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes
All of these risk factors further increase your risk of heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.
A woman’s waist measurement should not be more than 80cm (about 32 inches) and a man’s waist measurement should not be more than 94cm (37 inches).
How do you measure your waist measurement? Find a standard tape measure and follow these five simple steps:
- Find the top of your hip bone and the bottom of your ribs
- Place the tape measure midway between these points
- Stand up straight and breathe out naturally
- Keep the tape measure snug but not tight around your waist
- Write down the measurement
What can I do to maintain a healthy weight or lose weight?
A healthy weight reduces your risk of chest, heart and circulatory diseases because it helps prevent and manage conditions like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, sleep apnoea and type 2 diabetes that put you at greater risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke.
Even if you don't have any of these conditions, it's important to keep to a healthy weight so you don't develop them in future.
Simple lifestyle changes such as avoiding sugary or fatty foods, watching your portion sizes and doing some exercise every day can help you to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
And don’t forget that losing too much weight or being underweight is dangerous too – it can lead to an irregular heartbeat and can affect your heart muscle which can cause heart failure.
Think of losing weight as a marathon, not a sprint! Making drastic changes may help you to lose weight quickly but it can be difficult to stick to this in the long term.
The best way to lose weight is at a rate of 1-2lbs each week. You need to make changes you can stick to in the long term. Be realistic. Remember you probably put on the extra weight over several months or even years, so don’t expect to lose it overnight.
- Start by looking at what you eat – keep a food diary and be honest.
- Plan your meals in advance and keep to a meal routine, which will help avoid unplanned meals and snacks.
- Watch your portion size.
- Eat slowly to allow your stomach time to realise it is full. It takes 20 mins for your stomach to register food.
- Snack on healthy foods like fruit and veg.
- Look at the labels. Check for hidden fat or sugar in the food you buy.
- Know when you are hungry. If you feel hungry, you might just be thirsty so drink some water, or distract yourself. You’ll feel hungrier about watching TV than if you’re busy.
For more information visit Choose To Live Better.