Obesity is a serious health condition which means that the body has a very high amount of body fat. Excessive body weight is detrimental to your health; it increases the risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, cancer and many musculoskeletal diseases. Moreover, obesity affects the physical appearance as well, which may in turn lead to mental health issues such as Depression.
New Zealand has a high rate of obesity. According to the New Zealand Health Survey in 2013/14 over a million New Zealand adults were obese. The sad part of the statistics is that this rate is increasing. In New Zealand, 1 in 10 children up to the age of 14 are obese and 1 in 3 adults aged 15 and over are obese. Obesity has become a huge threat to the health system mainly because we promote over-consumption of junk food and fizzy/energy drinks and limit physical activity.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
Most health professionals use a measurement called the Body Mass Index (BMI) to calculate your weight. For adults, the following BMI ranges are used:
- 5 is considered underweight.
- 5 to 24.9 is healthy.
- 25 to 29.9 is overweight.
- 30 or higher is considered obese.
You can calculate your BMI by using the following formula:
BMI = (weight in kilograms) divided by (height in metres squared)
For example, if X is 59 kilograms and her height is 1.7 metres then her BMI would be 59 divided by (1.7 x 1.7 = 2.89) which equals 20.4 and is considered a healthy weight.
How do we become obese?
Being a healthy weight is about energy expenditure. The food we eat is consumed as energy in our body and keeping a healthy weight is all about balancing what we eat with how we lose it. A healthy weight is the result of energy intake (food and drink consumption) and energy expenditure (physical activity). If we eat and drink (energy intake) more than we burn (energy loss) then we store the excess as fat. This is what some experts call ‘hand to mouth’ disease. Hence, excessive food intake and sedentary lifestyle are considered to be important factors in causing obesity. Other than these, overweight and obesity run in families. The way our genes are wired determine how we store fat, the amount we store and where we store more fat in our body. If one or both of your parents are obese, then you tend to have a higher risk of obesity as well.
For many people, daily food contains a lot of oil and the bread we eat can cause ‘stubborn’ fat which is harder to break or lose. Being cautious and careful about what we eat and how much we eat is important as well as making sure that we have some form of physical activity in our daily routine. To lose weight:
- Eat food with no added sugar and very little fat
- Drink at least two litres of water everyday
- Avoid fizzy/energy drinks as well as alcohol
- Reduce your portions
- To maintain a healthy weight, stay active and go for at least 30 minutes of power walks everyday or any other activity which moves you and makes you sweat. To reduce weight, double the amount.
- Sit less especially for long periods (at a desk or watching TV)
- Focus on making gradual changes to your lifestyle. Avoid dieting on and off, counting calories, or trying difficult exercise that you can’t keep up. Be realistic about your goals as weight loss should be gradual and not sudden.
- Consult your health professional to get a complete prescription for your diet and required physical activity. They will take into account your medical history as well as any dietary needs you may have.
Beware of unintentional or sudden weight loss as it may be indicative of a serious medical condition. Consult your doctor immediately!
Obesity and your Spine
When the body is overweight it puts many excess pressures on other parts of the body such as joints and our musculoskeletal frame. When embarking on a weight loss programme, or more vigorous exercise be sure to be aware of your body and seek chiropractic help if you feel that anything doesn’t feel as it should.