Alternatives to obesity
Written by: Galina Pembroke
Look at news reports, international
gatherings, and even around the office: Obesity and the concern
over this disorder is spreading. Unfortunately, expanding waistlines
lead to shrinking health. What are we to do as a nation and individuals?
Experts are finding answers.
What's your BMI?
To calculate your BMI, or Body Mass Index: Divide
weight (kg) by height (cm) squared, multiply by 10,000
and round to one decimal place.
ON MAY 26, 2004, the Prague Congress Center hosted the European
Conference on Obesity. 2,500 obesity experts gathered to discuss
their concerns, and a professional certification program to manage
obesity was revealed. This will be available to doctors, nurses,
pharmacists, fitness trainers, dieticians, and other professionals
serious about health. Though the first of its kind, it builds on
the SCOPE (Certification of Obesity Professionals) plan. President-elect
of the European Association for the Study of Obesity Dr. Vojtěch
Hainer, stated at the conference: "This will become an important
qualification for non-medical professionals. It will enable the
public and patients to identify whether fitness instructors, dietary
advisers and others offering counseling services on obesity are
properly qualified to do so."
Previously obesity concerns have focused mainly on children. In
the last ten years their numbers have increased twofold, yet this
is of slim concern compared to adult rates. The Czech Society for
the study of Obesity say that 29.4% of men and up to 40.6% in women
aged 33-73 in rural Czech Republic have this condition. However,
the UK shows the most alarming growth. It's estimated that since
1982 the obesity rate in England has tripled. Only the USA, where
66% of citizens are obese or overweight, has a heavier worry.
The BMI, or Body Mass Index, is used to define obesity. This calculates
fat distribution through a weight/height ratio. A BMI of 18 to
25 is considered healthy. A BMI over 25 means you are overweight
and 30 or more classifies you as obese. At this girth you have
a moderate risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis,
diabetes, indigestion, gallstones, certain cancers, and more. Look
at the morbid smorgasbord of diseases caused by extra weight, and
it's easy to understand why the World Health Organization calls
it one of the ten main health threats of the 21st century. Experts
at the European Congress on Obesity agree. Their report concluded
by saying: "If left unchecked, the outlook for world health
Despite its dangers, previously there was no structure in place
to treat obesity. Things are changing fast. The Prague meeting
introduced Europe-wide guidelines for treatment. In these, doctors
are advised to look out for eating disorders, stress, low self-esteem,
smoking cessation and other factors that contribute to obesity.
Moderation will also be on the menu, with recommendations of 600
fewer calories daily to achieve a weekly half-kilogram (1 pound)
loss. The new guidelines suggest increasing concern over regular
overweight, referring to this as "pre-obese".
The Czech government is the first to launch a national obesity
task force. Though a shared community goal gives needed help, ultimately
we must rely on ourselves to stick to slimming. Here are some tips
to help make this easier.
· Drop fad diets. High protein diets are trendy but many consist
of 60% fat. This conflicts with the low fat recommendations of
· Eat less and exercise more. The British Dietetic Association's
Nigel Denby told BBC News online: "Sensible healthy eating
combined with an increase in physical activity really is the perfect
recipe for successful and more importantly maintainable weight
· Think health before size. A doctor's idea of healthy weight is
larger than a swimsuit model. Make improved wellbeing your primary
slimming goal. Size is secondary.
· Take your sad days more seriously. Experts at the conference
were in agreement that depression, anxiety, and stress all interfere
with weight loss. Though a doctor may best diagnose depression,
some indications are alterations in sleep and activity and a persistently