On the back of our recent coverage on ITV regarding the growing obesity problem across Northamptonshire, I thought it would be worth exploring this in a bit more detail.
First of all, how do the so called experts define obesity?
You are officially classed as obese if you have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of between 30 and 40 and very obese if your BMI is above 40.
This is how to work out your BMI:
Divide your body weight in KG by your height in metres squared. For example if you weigh 12 and half stone (this is 79.6kg) and are 5 ft 3” (1.6metres) then your BMI is 31 and you are classed as obese:
79.6 divided by (1.6 x 1.6) = 2.56) = 31
So you can see from this that it doesn’t take very much to fit into this category.
It’s worth noting that this is only a guideline and is certainly relevant to most inactive individuals. It would not be relevant though to someone that has a low body fat % as most professional rugby players would be classed as obese using the above calculation, but they are far from being unhealthy.
What are the risks?
There are loads. In fact most experts think that obesity puts a greater financial strain on the NHS than smoking does. Here are just a few of the major health problems that can be a result of obesity:
- Heart disease
- Raised blood pressure
- Indigestion problems
Why is this an issue right now?
It’s not just across Northamptonshire where there is an issue. It’s across the whole of the UK. It’s estimated that the number of individuals classed as obese has trebled in the last 25 years. This is a huge increase. The most worrying statistic for me though is the rise in childhood obesity. Right now in the England 16.3% of children (ages 2-15) are classed as obese!! At this rate this figure will rise to 25% within the next 20-30 years.
There are a number of possible reasons for the huge increase. Generally children and adults don’t move about anywhere near as much as they used to. Lot’s of experts try and simplify the solution by saying just eat less and move more and while there is some mileage in this statement it’s not quite as straightforward as that.
Moving more is a given and whether it’s walking, running, weight training, or all of the above, there is absolutely no downside to moving around more.
Eating less is not always a solution though. Taking it to the extreme if someone reduced their daily calories but only got those calories from chocolate and crisps, would this have the desired health benefits that we are looking for?
I think that a major reason for the rise in obesity is that people have been eating the wrong foods. There is far too much emphasis on quick and easy, calorie rich, processed foods.
Microwave meals are crap. No getting away from it. They are packed full of salt, sugar, preservatives and god knows what else.
It’s not all about high fat foods either. Refined carbohydrates are a massive contributor as well. If people understood what happened inside their bodies when they ate a massive plate of pasta with a load of garlic bread they would keep these sort of meals to a minimum. There’s a huge spike in insulin, followed by a crash in energy levels resulting in the carbs turning into glucose (sugar) and getting stored as fat! Nice!
Then there’s alcohol:
Alcohol consumption in the UK has doubled since 1960. One of the reasons for this that it’s now much more affordable and accessible than it ever was. In fact it’s 65% more affordable than in 1980 and given that you can now buy an abundance of ‘cheap booze’ from supermarkets, off licences, and even garages it’s no surprise there has been this increase. Alcohol is full of empty calories with no nutritional value. Once again this ends up getting stored as fat.
Move More Eat Right
You really can’t go too far wrong if you just opt to eat whole foods. Those foods that have not been messed with. You know exactly what you’re getting then. Look at the ingredients and if there are any more than 3, I would put it down. This is the way that we used to eat thousands of years ago and we evolved pretty well as a result.
To summarise then, my solution would be the following:
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes at least 3 times per week – preferably at Fitter Body Boot Camp in Northampton!
- Increase the whole foods that you eat to represent at least 80% of your diet
- Reduce alcohol consumption down to just once per week as a treat
- Drink more water – at least 2 litres a day
Follow the above and you will notice significant changes to body composition within weeks!