The number of people who are overweight or obese has been
rapidly increasing in the UK, to the point that obesity is becoming
one of the UK's most serious health problems. Currently, 38% of the
people in the UK are overweight and a further 20% are obese. Data
collected in a Jersey Health Survey show that we are not far
behind, with 33% of people reported to be overweight and 12%
Being overweight or obese can affect nearly every part of your
body. It can increase the chances of having heart attacks, high
blood pressure and even developing diabetes and certain cancers.
Other reasons for controlling weight may be as important to you as
your health. You may want to get fitter, get into shape, look
better and feel better or just be able to get into clothes that no
So how do we know what a healthy weight is?
The definition of overweight and obesity is usually based on an
approximation of body fat, based on our height and weight. Risk of
illness increases significantly somewhere between BMI values of
25-30 and increases rapidly at BMI values greater than 30. However,
underweight people are also at risk, with BMI value of less than 20
linked to decreased longevity.
Are you an apple or a pear?
BMI is a simple and useful tool but does have limitations. It
takes no account of variation in stature, frame or body
composition, so a very muscular person may appear overweight if BMI
is the sole assessment tool. Evidence suggests that intraabdominal
fat (apple shape) is greater risk factor for developing heart
decease and diabetes than a similar weight of fat deposited
subcutaneously (pear shaped). Hence waist circumference has also
been proposed as an alternative measurement to BMI.
Small changes can lead to big benefits!
The good news is that if you are overweight, even a small weight
loss can produce a variety of health benefits. It's not always easy
to lose weight, but both diet and physical activity levels play a
role in tackling obesity. Many physically inactive people fail to
recognise that their energy needs are low and tend to overeat and
hence gain weight.
Be weight wise, eat sensibly!
The best way of keeping your weight in control is to eat a
healthy balanced diet. All research findings suggest that losing
weight steadily and gradually is the safest way and the weight is
much more likely to stay off than if you lose it quickly. Crash
diets result in loss of muscle tissue and water. So, although the
scales may read less, your body has not lost much fat. Also your
metabolic rate slows down and it becomes even harder to lose
If you are trying to lose weight, aim to lose no more than one
to two pounds (half to one Kg) each week.
Measuring your waist is an easy way of finding out whether you
are an 'apple' or 'pear'. To measure your waist find the bottom of
your ribs and the top of your hips. Measure around your middle at a
point mid-way between these (for many people this will be the tummy
button). Use the table below to see if you are at risk of ill
foods like pie and chips occasionally is fine, but having them
everyday instead of a variety of different foods is not so
The main rules for healthy eating are:-
• Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. All types - fresh,
frozen, tinned and dried are good.
• Have some starchy food with each meal. These are bread,
potatoes, rice, pasta, noodles and other cereals.
• Choose low fat dairy products where possible (milk, yoghurts
• Eat small portions of lean meat and fish.
• Limit fatty and sugary foods and alcohol.
• Eat regular meals.
Changing your diet and getting more ACTIVE both need careful
thought and effort, but often small changes can lead to big
The list below are some simple actions you could try if you are
trying to control your weight:-
• Do nothing else whilst eating, enjoy your food and try not to
• Eat regularly. Skipping breakfast may mean you are tempted
with chocolate or biscuits mid morning.
• Eat whilst sitting down.
• Keep healthy snacks to hand.
• Wait at least five minutes after finishing your meal to decide
if you need second helpings.
• Ask yourself if you are really hungry. Would a low
calorie drink suffice?
• Remove serving dishes from the table if you think you will be
tempted to overeat.
• Stop on a full stomach.
• Clean your teeth after a meal or when you have the urge to
• Practice refusing offers to overeat. Learn to say 'no thank
you' firmly and politely.