The issue weighing on our minds

Can you be overweight and healthy? In the past, many experts agreed that if your cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels were within a normal range, despite your body weight, you would be considered healthy. In recent times, new evidence has thrown cold water on that favourable view. Being overweight increases your risk for cardiovascular disease; the more overweight and obese you are, the greater the risk and increased health problems that arise.

Overweight and obesity is defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation which increases an individual’s susceptibility to negative health risks. In general, excessive fat accumulates from a sustained energy imbalance, meaning obtaining more energy (calories) from food and drink, exceeding the amount of energy you expend from physical activity and exercise.

Who is overweight and obese in Australia?

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2016) and Australian Bureau of Statistics (2015):

  • In 2014/2015, an estimated 11.2 million adults (63%) were overweigh or obese; 6.3 million (35%) were overweight and 4.9 million (28%) were obese;
  • 1 in 4 children aged 5-17 (27%) were overweight or obese;
  • Overweight and obesity was greater among men than women (71% vs 56%) and increase with age from 39% of people age 18-24 to 74% for those aged 65-74; and
  • Adults living in the lowest socioeconomic areas were more likely to be overweight or obese than those in the highest SE areas (66% compared to 58%).

What kinds of health issues are associated with overweight and obesity?

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Certain types of cancer
  • Heart disease and strokes
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Pregnancy problems, such as high blood pressure during pregnancy and increased risk for caesarean delivery

Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease

Type 2 diabetes is a condition whereby blood sugar levels remain abnormally high. It is the most common form of diabetes. High blood glucose is a major cause of concern of heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, amputation, and blindness. Risk factors include family history and genetics, a low activity level, poor diet and nutritional intake, and excess body weight around the waist. Healthy waist circumference measurements for women and men are less than 35 inches or 88 cm for women, and less than 40 inches, or 102 cm for men.

Blood pressure is a measurement of how hard your blood pushes against the walls of your arteries. Each time the heart beats, it carries blood via the arteries and delivers is to the rest of the body. High blood pressure is known as the ‘silent killer’, as it doesn’t necessarily present with any symptoms. However, it may cause serious health problems such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure. A blood pressure of 120/80 mmHg is considered normal; if the systolic (top) number is higher than 140 and the diastolic (lower) number is greater than 90, your blood pressure is considered high.

Heart disease is a broad termed used to describe several problems that affect your heart. The most common ailment is when a blood vessel narrows or becomes partially blocked, making it difficult for the blood to get to where it needs to be. Other heart problems may affect the mechanism that causes the heart to pump. If you have heart disease you may suffer from angina (chest pains), heart attack, heart failure, abnormal heart rhythm, or sudden cardiac death.

How can I lower my risk of having health issues due to overweight and obesity?

If you are considered overweight losing just 5% of your body weight may lower your risk for several diseases, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes. A steady weight loss of .5 to 1 pound per week is considered healthy.,

Some nutritional tips include:

  • Make half of your plate vegetables and fruits;
  • replace refined grains with whole grain options (e.g. whole oats, quinoa, buckwheat groats, brown rice); and
  • enjoy lean sources of protein, such as turkey, chicken, beans, seafood, nuts, and seeds.

Physical activity guidelines in Australia suggest 300 minutes per week or aerobic activity to lose or maintain weight and at least 2 sessions per week of strength or resistance training. Staying active and eating well are the two biggest lifestyle factors that you can positively adjust to not only decrease your waistline but lessen your risk of chronic disease.

To find out more about health eating guidelines book in to see our dietitian Anthony Glanville. Call us on 02 9252 2225 today!

References

Australian Bureau of Statistics (2014/2015). Overweight and obesity. Retrieved from http:// http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4364.0.55.001~2014-15~Main%20Features~Overweight%20and%20obesity~22.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2016). Overweight and obesity. Retrieved from http:// https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/384eafec-fa90-412d-8c98-b279fddc7911/ah16-4-4-overweight-obesity.pdf.aspx.

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (Feb 2015). Health risks of being overweight. Retrieved from http:// https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/health-risks-overweight.

 

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