Why is the modern lifestyle seeing such a rise in the problem of children and adults being overweight and obese?
Obesity researchers from the Universities of Aberdeen and Maastricht in the Netherlands have discovered that we burn the same calories on physical activities as we have done over the last 20 years. Consensus over the past few years has been that an increased sedentary lifestyle has been a major contributory factor to the "obesity epidemic". They found that there has been no reduction in the energy we expend on day-to-day activities, suggesting increased food intake may be the more important factor in obesity.
This research may support what the majority of us have already known but not really faced up to. Food portion sizes, the amount of food we consume, the ease and availability of food mean at least in this country that we are indulging too much and upsetting our body balance of calories consumed versus calories expended. In addition the nature of the food we consume has moved in some instances away from wholesome, home-prepared food to shop bought processed calorie-rich food high in fat content. Aside from recognized medical conditions the degree to which expenditure of calories through activity and consumption of calories through food intake contributes to obesity should be reversible. The overriding problem is that being overweight or obese becomes an established condition driven by an underlying number of unhealthy lifestyle factors. The drive and determination required for an individual to lose weight is considerable. Much support from family, friends and professionals is also required to introduce a new approach to eating more healthily and restoring the balance of controlled calorie intake.
Body Mass Index has been used greatly in determining whether an individual is overweight or obese. The BMI value needs to be used in conjunction with other body measurements such as waist measurement, waist to hip ratio and body fat percentage.
BMI does not take account of muscle tissue and therefore should be interpreted with care.
The key to encouraging an individual to consider losing weight is that it needs to be on their terms and with self-set objectives that are realistic and not overbearing. Sustained weight loss over a reasonable time scan is the way in which an individual's body can adjust gradually and enable a long term change in healthy living to be established.
Use the University of Leeds BMI Calculator to work out some of the calculations mentioned above.
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