|Written by: Galina PembrokeLook 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 is bleak.”
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 the conference.
· 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 loss.”
· 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 low mood.