Obesity hits the news (again)

Isn’t it sad that we have to keep reading and hearing stories about the obesity crisis. The obesity word is used as a headline to grab attention, which isn’t always helpful and sometimes means the story behind the headline gets missed, much like this mornings headlines.  Dame Sally Davies makes some really good points on other issues too. 

There appears to be no simple solution to obesity, we all have to take responsibility for our own health and that of anyone in our care, but if the government – local or central, councils,health professionals and manufacturers could work together to provide a clear message that would surely be a good step forward. Sugar Tax being the latest debate.

The report also highlights issues so many people deal with but don’t want to talk about, such as eating disorders, health in pregnancy and other gynaecological concerns. Dame Sally has some good suggestions to support treatment for women dealing with any of these problems. We should also remember that men face many of these and their own specific issues which also need as much attention. I hope her report gets some real attention and more importantly, action.

How do you measure up?

Most people use a scale to see if they are gaining/losing weight, but the scales can’t tell you the whole story, some are better than others as they can monitor your body fat percentage, which is an important indication of your internal health, the fat you carry but can’t see.

We are all different body types (often referred to as apples (carry weight around the waist) and pears (carry weight around the hip/bottom area).  Apples are more prone to holding fat around the abdomen (stomach) and this has been linked to increased risk of heart disease. Reduce your internal fat and reduce your potential risks.

BMI (body mass index) is often cited as the go to measurement because it’s an easy measurement to do and there are numerous calculators online, to do it yourself – divide your weight in kg by height in metres squared. A reading of 18.5-25 indicates you’re in the healthy range.  There have been some good articles about why this isn’t good for certain areas of the population – like athletes who have a much higher muscle than fat ratio (muscle is heavier than fat), but the BMI calculation means they are assessed as obese. Have you seen an obese athlete?

A good alternative is the waist to hip ratio, which can also be done with just a tape measure. Measure your hips at the widest point (just by the hip bones) and then your natural waist, the narrowest part (where your stomach button is). Divide the waist reading by the hip reading to get the result. Being under 0.95cm for men or 0.80cm for women is healthy.

And don’t forget, muscle weighs more, but looks considerably less bulky, than fat. Muscles also have more health benefits. We all need to carry a certain amount of fat – men, less than women, but if we carried more muscle, less fat, we would look leaner and be healthier.