Obesity; a growing problem - how a nutritionist can help
Over the past few years there has been an increasing amount of information in the media about the growing obesity problem. On April 1st 2016, one of the latest studies into how much of an issue obesity is and how prevalent it has become was publicised.
The study, lead by researchers from the imperial college London and published in the Lancet, investigated the change in the levels of obesity over the past 40 years; from 1975 to 2014 across the world.
They found that the incidence of obesity has in fact overtaken the previous alarming numbers of people who were underweight – which was always seen as the most crucial nutritional issue to face on a global scale. With the world facing what the lead author described as an “epidemic of severe obesity”.
Global rates of obesity have soared in both men and women since 1975, with men seeing an increase from 3.2% to 10.8% And women from 6.4% to 14.9%. This equates to 266 million men and 375 million women across the world who are clinically obese.
Obesity, which is commonly associated with American, in fact is a big issue in the UK, with the figures showing an increase here too, with women in the UK having the third highest BMI in Europe, while men have the 10th highest, with incidence of 6.8 million men and 7.7 million women obese. It is projected that if the rates continue on this trend then by 2025, the UK will have the highest levels of obese women in Europe at 38% of the female population being obese.
What is obesity?
Obesity is defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 30kg/m2, with BMI being a measure of how appropriate your weight is for your height. It is a simple calculation:
BMI = Weight (kgs) / Height (m2)
A healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9, with 25 to 29.9 considered overweight and 30+ being obese. It is known that for the general population* that having a BMI above 25 increases the risk of developing conditions such as type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke and some cancers. The exact increase in risk has only been theorised, but it is considered to be a significant increase with a BMI of 30 and above.
What can be done about it?
While there is serious discussion that this obesity problem is serious enough to become an issue that governments need to intercede to develop and implement policies to address the issue, such as making healthier food, such as fruit and vegetables, more affordable to all, whilst making ‘unhealthy’ foods more expensive; which we are seeing with the introduction of the sugar levy, there is also a need for people to take ownership themselves. Managing your weight can have a huge impact on your general health and well-being and whilst providing generic information is a useful starting point, many people need more personalised information which can enable them to make healthier, more informed decisions around the foods they eat.
How can a nutritionist help?
A nutritionist will be able to provide a tailored programme for you to follow, ensuring that the regime is balanced and nutritious. In addition, and most importantly, they can provide you with information that is relevant to you to ensure that you are able to develop the skills to understand how to adopt a healthy, balanced diet yourself. This often involves providing the information around why we need some carbohydrates, proteins, fats and which are the healthier options to have, along with what a healthy serving of these foods are. They can also provide more specific information on how to get the most out of reading the nutritional label – many people get confused with the conflicting colour schemes and layout, but a nutritionist can talk you through this so that you can do it for yourself. Knowing what is in the foods that you choose makes it far easier to make the more appropriate decisions for you.
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