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Lose weight, reduce your BMI and reduce your risk of disease

Are you worried that being overweight could lead to a life-threatening health condition?

  • Carrying too much weight greatly increases the amount of inflammation in your body. 
  • This means that you could have an increased health risk.
  • Did you know that overeating increases the immune response?

This increased immune response causes our body to generate excessive inflammation, which may lead to many chronic diseases and lower our ability to cope with a virus.

How does inflammation cause us to gain weight? 

Inflammation can affect our body weight in lots of ways. When our immune system detects a threat, the body will release a substance called cytokines. This activates the body’s immune response. Cytokines are pro-inflammatory, and they also interfere with the body’s insulin response.

When the body becomes resistant to insulin, the pancreas must release more of it, which triggers the body to store fat. Also, people with insulin resistance tend to store more fat in their abdominal region.

Inflammation can also interfere with the body’s response to leptin. Leptin is the hormone that tells our brain when we have had sufficient to eat. If your brain does not receive this signal, it can cause you to eat too much! 

So, weight gain is associated with increased inflammation in the body. A 2019 study found that levels of key inflammatory markers in the blood known as C-reactive protein (CRP) became higher as a person’s weight increased.

Make a fresh start

The government has recently introduced a new national campaign to encourage millions of adults to make a fresh start with their approach to their own health and reduce their risk of serious illness, which includes COVID-19.

Whilst the current evidence does not indicate that carrying extra weight increases a person’s chances of contracting COVID-19; data does indicate that obese people are significantly more likely to become very seriously ill and be admitted to intensive care with COVID-19 compared to those with a healthy/lower BMI. [1]

Health conditions that are obesity-related do seem to worsen the effect of COVID-19. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have reported that people with heart disease and diabetes are at a higher risk of complications from COVID-19.

The recent health scare is a wake-up call for us all, to get our health back on track.

Improving your diet and nutrition is critical to decreasing your health risks. 

Losing weight can mean:

  • decreased risk of diabetes
  • lowered blood pressure
  • improved cholesterol levels
  • decreased risk of heart disease and stroke
  • decreased risk of certain cancers
  • improved mobility
  • decreased lower back and joint pain
  • improved blood sugar levels
  • improved sleep apnoea
  • improved fertility

Losing just five to 10% of your body weight can improve your overall health and reduce your risk for chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

Achieving a healthy weight loss

Do you have a healthy body weight? Maybe you are not sure. Measure your body mass index and waist circumference. For most adults:

  • A BMI between 18.5 and 25 is defined as healthy.
  • A BMI of over 25 is defined as overweight.
  • A BMI of over 30 is defined as obese.

You can calculate your BMI by accessing the NHS website and putting in your height and current weight.

Waist circumference (size) is also used to assess your risk of obesity-related diseases such as; heart disease, type-2 diabetes and cancer. These conditions are particularly affected by where your body fat is stored, not just by your weight.

Image of a breakfast table filled with fruits and breakfast foods

It is worth noting that people who are very muscular, will sometimes have a higher BMI but without excess fat. For these people, their waist circumference may give a better guide to whether they have excess fat. Measure around your tummy at a point midway between your lower rib and the top of your hips.

There is an increased risk of morbidity and high risk of obesity-related health problems:

Men:                                         
Increased risk:  ≥94 cm (37 in)                          
High risk: ≥102 cm (40 in)                        

Women:
Increased risk: ≥80 cm (31.5 in)
High risk: ≥88 cm (34.5 in)

Ways to lose weight:

  • The amount of energy you take in from food must be less than the energy you use. In other words – eat less, move more. You may need help in calculating the correct amount for you personally.
  • It is so important to set yourself realistic goals. Even small amounts of weight loss can have significant health benefits.
  • It is always better to lose weight gradually, about 1-2 lbs (approximately 0.5-1.0 kg) a week. It is a loss of fat that is needed, not water and muscle/lean tissue as many crash diets cause us to do.
  • Different methods to achieve weight loss will be successful for different individuals. Working with a nutritionist and finding a tailor-made weight-loss and lifestyle plan which works for you is key.
  • It is important to make healthy diet and lifestyle changes that you feel able to maintain, even after you have reached your goal weight. 'Getting back to normal' is not an option as 'normal' was not working for you if you felt you were carrying too much weight.

If you want to lower your BMI, make some healthy lifestyle changes, and improve your health risks; think about working with a nutritionist to boost your knowledge and motivation!

References:
1. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/excess-weight-can-increase-risk-of-serious-illness-and-death-from-covid-19

Nutritionist Resource is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Written by Hayley Smith ANutr, MASC(Eating disorders/CBT), Dip (Sports Nutri), BA Hons Psy

I am a Registered Assoc Nutritionist. I work as a Nutritionist, Lifestyle& Food-wellness coach from Great Dunmow & Springfield Hospital Chelmsford.

Specialisms include:
Weight Loss & Healthy Eating
Eating disorders & Weight gain
Sports Nutrition
Bloating
Inflammation & Gut Health
Lowering blood sugar, cholesterol levels & cardiovascular risk… Read more

Written by Hayley Smith ANutr, MASC(Eating disorders/CBT), Dip (Sports Nutri), BA Hons Psy

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