The WHO (World health organisation) definition of obesity and being overweight is an excessive amount of body fat, and this may affect health.
Body mass index (BMI) is the simple measure of weight for height, and is used internationally to classify overweight or obesity in adults.
It is defined as a person's weight in kilograms, divided by the square of his height in meters (kg/m2).
The status of overweight requires a BMI equal to, or greater than 25, and obesity is a BMI equal to, or greater than 30.
For children, the age for weight has to be taken into consideration and this is best monitored by charting the weight on children's growth charts. Children's clinics will usually have these charts.
There is some controversy about the accuracy of BMI measurements for different people, and even races with varying muscle mass. An athlete for instance with a large body mass may have a high BMI incorrectly classifying them as overweight.
But lets put that aside.
Why should we worry about obesity?
Obesity increases risk of the following conditions:
- Heart attacks
- Bowel cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer
- Sleep apnoea; a condition in which people affected stop breathing in their sleep due to excessive fat/tissue in the throat.
- Gastric reflux or heart burn
This list is not exhaustive, and we must bear in mind the dangers of falling into a vicious cycle, worsening the above conditions due to an inability to exercise.
Other problems around day to day activities include difficulties in receiving medical healthcare; for instance, poor visibility on ultrasound or during physical examination, difficulty introducing an IV line into a vein (crucial in an emergency).
Why do we place obesity in the new age disease category?
According to WHO statistics, In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults aged 18 years and older were overweight. Of these, over 650 million adults were obese.
The worldwide prevalence of obesity nearly tripled between 1975 and 2016.
In 2016, an estimated 41 million children under the age of 5 years were overweight or obese.
In Africa, the number of overweight children under 5 years has increased by nearly 50 per cent since 2000.
Obesity used to be known as a condition of the well off nations, but clearly this has changed. There has been a change in lifestyles, particularly in the urban areas.
Follow this link to calculate your BMI on the World Cancer Research Fund's website HERE
So how can you prevent or reverse obesity or overweight?
Many people know what to do, but lack the conviction to take the necessary steps to achieve their goals, or they may have medical conditions that make surmounting these challenges difficult.
This blog post is not a dictation. It's not about preaching the perfect lifestyle, because there isn't one. But rather, it is to encourage you to take the necessary steps to achieve your goals, at your own pace.
If you are overweight or obese, take these steps to get your weight within a healthy category:
Accept you have a problem.
Look at the harm and inconvenience obesity could cause to your health.
Set a goal and decide, exactly, the amount of weight you need to loose.
Plan, precisely, how you are going to get to the healthy weight.
There are two main strategies that will help lose and maintain a healthy weight: Control of calories intake (Diet) and burning the calories by exercise/activity. Bear in mind, the activity does not need to be strenuous or exhaustive, a brisk five minute walk counts towards your daily exercise.
We'll talk about this more later.