Having a normal, healthy weight is one of the best things you can do to protect your overall health. Being overweight or obese increases your risk for having a heart attack or stroke as well as numerous other health problems including high blood pressure, certain cancers, diabetes, gallstones, sleep apnoea and degenerative joint disease.
Being overweight is a condition of abnormal or excessive fat in the body to the extent that it may have a negative effect on your health. It is the result of an energy imbalance where energy intake (through eating and drinking) has been greater than the energy use (from being active) over a period of many years. Obesity is rarely caused by a slow metabolism or hormonal problems. Making too many poor food choices and a lack of exercise are not the only causes of this imbalance. Other factors have also been associated with obesity:
Being overweight is a condition of abnormal or excessive fat in the body to the extent that it may have a negative effect on your health. Being overweight is the result of an energy imbalance where energy intake has been greater than the energy used over a period of many years. Obesity is rarely caused by a slow metabolism or hormonal problems. An excess of the wrong food and a lack of exercise are not the only causes of this imbalance. Other factors have also been associated with obesity:
The dangers of being overweight:
Body Mass Index
By calculating the Body Mass Index (BMI), you can tell whether your weight is normal, too low or too high for your height.
|BMI||weight in kg (height in metres)|
|Normal (healthy)||18.5 – 24.9|
|Normal (healthy)||18.5 – 24.9|
|Overweight||25 – 29.9|
These cut-off points are not absolute and people with high muscle mass such as professional athletes and body builders may have a high BMI without being overweight. That’s why it is important to use BMI in conjunction with waist circumference, and if possible, also body fat %. Click here to calculate your BMI.
Where your weight is accumulated, matters! That’s because the type of fat that accumulates around the abdomen, differs to fat in the rest of the body. This fat is called visceral fat, and is very metabolically active. In other words, it releases substances which can increase cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure and blood glucose, all of which in turn increase your risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Are you an apple or a pear body shape? An apple-shaped body is where the weight is mostly found around the abdomen, and a pear-shaped body is where the weight is mostly on the hips and thighs. Weight around the abdomen increases the risk for cardiovascular disease more than weight around the hips and thighs. That is why a waist measurement can be a good indicator of your health risk.
You can check whether your waist measurement falls into the ideal category or whether you are putting yourself at risk by checking the table below:
|Less than 80 cm||Ideal|
|80 – 87 cm||Increased risk for CVD|
|88 cm or more||High risk for CVD|
|Less than 94 cm||Ideal|
|94 – 101 cm||Increased risk for CVD|
|102 cm or more||High risk for CVD|
If you don’t have a tape measure, your clothes size can also indicate if you are at risk. See this table below:
|Ideal waist circumference||Less than 80 cm|
|Ideal pants size||Approx. size 38 (14) or less|
|Ideal waist circumference||Less than 94 cm|
|Ideal pants size||Approx. size 36 (12) or less|
Gradual weight loss of 0.5 – 1 kg per week is the safest and most effective long-term way to lose weight. There are many unhealthy ‘fad’ weight loss diets out there which generally involve "magic" cures, are normally expensive, require you to purchase pills or potions and often provide rapid weight loss with only short-term results. Be aware of these diets and don’t be fooled by them. A healthy, consistent lifestyle is a much better approach that can become a habit and sustained long-term. The combination of exercise and healthy eating is the most effective long-term approach to successful weight management.
Set a reasonable and realistic goal. Set short-term, specific goals which seem more achievable and will help you to gradually achieve your overall long-term goal.
Eat 3 balanced meals a day. Plate meals according to the plate model: ¼ protein, ¼ starch and ½ vegetables and fruit on your plate
Choose healthy snacks. If still hungry in-between meals then have small healthy snacks such as fruit, veggie sticks, raw unsalted nuts or low-fat dairy instead of sweets, chips and chocolates.
Control portion sizes. Use smaller plates and bowls and serve smaller portions.
5. Reduce overall fat intake.
Choose wholegrain starchy foods. They are high in fibre and will help keep you feeling fuller for longer. Examples are whole-wheat bread, oats, whole-wheat pasta and high fibre cereals.
Avoid all sugary drinks. They provide empty-kilojoules and contribute to weight gain. Drink 8 glasses of fresh water instead.
Get active. Increasing physical activity is an essential part of sustained weight loss. Aim for at least 30 minutes of activity five times a week, and gradually increase this up to 60 minutes.
9. Get support.
Download the Heart and Stroke Foundation's generic weight loss meal plan. For more advice, contact the Heart and Stroke Health Line. Call 0860 1 HEART (0860 1 43278) or email email@example.com.