It has been said that the obesity epidemic is not due to Ronald MacDonald's fast foods, but rather to Bill Gates. Technology, such as computers, email, remote controls and cars, has made people less active than ever before. Combined with a high-fat diet, it is little wonder that 62% of men and 49% of women are overweight or obese.
Being overweight is a serious health matter. It is a risk factor for diabetes, blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol, gallstones, breast and bowel cancer, arthritis, back pain, snoring and many other medical conditions.
Where is the fat in your body? Fat around the tummy puts you at greatest risk of health problems. Measure your waist with a tape measure. Waists over 100cm for men and 90cm for women are of greatest concern (10 cm less for people of Asian and Indian descent). Many experts now focus more on 'waist loss' than 'weight loss'.
'Diets' can actually make you fat. Crash diets slow the metabolism (the body's fat-burning process) and make you tired and hungry. When you eat later, you may gain even more weight than you lost!
How to control your weight
The key to permanent weight control is low-fat, high-fibre eating and a lifetime program of daily physical activity. Aim for a steady weight loss of 1-2 kg per month, or 1% loss of waist size per week.
To reduce your daily fat intake:
- Avoid frying and use less cooking oil.
- Use only a thin smear of butter, margarine or spreads, if any at all.
- Trim the fat off meat and remove the skin from chicken.
- Choose lean meats.
- Eat reduced/low fat products.
- Reduce biscuits, cakes and pastries.
- Eat more fish and seafood.
Try to eat more fibre, from fruit, vegetables, salad and wholemeal or wholegrain bread. Alcohol is OK in moderation as the body burns it off quickly, but beware of the fatty foods that are often eaten with it. Watch your meal size as you may be eating too much.
Try to get more exercise. Start with being as active as possible during the day: take the stairs instead of the lift, walk to the shops instead of driving, go to the office next door to talk rather than sending an email, do some gardening, sweep the floor or play with the kids.
As well, aim for at least 30 minutes of low to medium intensity exercise on most (preferably all) days, such as walking, cycling, golf or going to the gym. Any exercise is better than none and it does not have to be strenuous.
Look at your eating habits. Are your emotions undermining your efforts? Would reducing stress help?
Ask your doctor for advice.
Please note this information was correct at time of printing.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.