In Wales over 60% (1.5 million) of the adult population is overweight or obese, each year this figure rises by 10,000. If this trend continues the number of adults projected to become overweight or obese will increase to 64% of the nation’s population – another 160,000 adults by 2030.
According to the World Health Organisation(WHO) Worldwide obesity has tripled since 1975. In 2019 – 38 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese.
What is Obesity and how is it caused?
Obesity is usually caused by eating and drinking too much and moving too little. The result of consuming more calories, particularly those in fatty and sugary foods, than you burn off through physical activity, is that the excess energy from the food is stored by the body as fat.
The term obese describes a person who is very overweight, with a lot of body fat.
Adults are generally considered obese if they have a body mass index of 30 or above.
However obesity is preventable.
Are you classed as obese?
To find out if you are a healthy weight, the best way is to calculate your body mass index (BMI). The NHS website has a BMI Calculator that works out your BMI based on your height, weight and age.
BMI is not used to diagnose obesity but it is a useful indication as to where you are on the scale.
For most adults, a BMI of:
• 18.5 to 24.9 means you’re a healthy weight
• 25 to 29.9 means you’re overweight
• 30 to 39.9 means you’re obese
• 40 or above means you’re severely obese
Health risks linked with obesity
If you are obese then it is really important that you try to make changes to your lifestyle in order to tackle the problem as obesity can lead to a number of serious and potentially life-threatening conditions such as type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer (such as breast cancer and bowel cancer) coronary heart disease, and stroke.
Your risk of developing other serious health conditions can also increase if you are obese. The NHS list these conditions as; high blood pressure, high cholesterol and atherosclerosis, asthma, metabolic syndrome, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease ( GORD) , Gallstones, reduced fertility, osteoarthritis, sleep apnoea, liver disease, kidney disease & pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia.
As well as causing obvious physical changes to your body, obesity can also affect your quality of life and lead to psychological problems, such as depression and low self-esteem. Other Day to day problems that can make daily activities difficult include: breathlessness, increased sweating, snoring, difficulty doing physical activity, often feeling very tired, joint and back pain & feeling isolated
Obesity and Coronavirus
“Recent reports have suggested that obesity is one of the underlying health conditions that can cause a more severe reaction to COVID-19 infection. Given the extremely high rates of obesity around the globe, it is possible the pandemic could disproportionately impact those who are overweight or obese. There have been various suggestions as to why excess weight could increase severity of COVID-19 symptoms. Stored fat leads to high levels of inflammation, which can reduce the effectiveness of the immune system, and it’s possible that fat stored around the middle of the body could make the lungs less efficient in the face of a viral infection. But the evidence on obesity and COVID-19 is new and still emerging and the picture will become clearer in the coming days and weeks.”
Dr Kate Allen – World Cancer research fund
How to treat Obesity
The best way to treat obesity is to change lifestyle habits through a combination of eating a healthy reduced-calorie diet and by become more active and exercising regularly. There is no quick fix and it will take determination, will power and commitment but the benefits to your health will be so worth it!
Here are some ways to change an unhealthy lifestyle:
• Eat a balanced calorie-controlled diet as recommended by a GP or weight loss management health professional (such as a dietitian).
• Join a local weight loss group.
• Have a go at the NHS Couch to 5k running plan.
• Get active – increase the amount you move each day and aim to add in some new activities to your week such as fast walking, jogging, swimming or playing a sport for 150 to 300 minutes (2.5 to 5 hours) a week.
• Eat slowly and don’t be tempted to overeat.
• Speak to your GP if you think you might benefit from receiving psychological support from a trained healthcare professional to help change the way you think about food and eating.
A word from your practice nurse
Your practice nurse says:
“Promoting healthy lifestyles and encouraging fitness are so important as adults and also for our children’s development and help reduce the nation’s growing problem of childhood obesity.”
Things to remember
• Obesity reduces life expectancy by an average of 3 to 10 years, depending on how severe it is.
• Obesity is preventable