Obesity – A Growing Problem #WorldObesityDay

The reports are damning.

The UK is the most obese country in western Europe, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

And it’s on the increase. Their annual “Health at a Glance” report states that obesity in the UK has increased by a whopping 92% since the 1990s.

In 2016, 26 per cent of adults, 20 per cent of 10-11 year olds (year 6) and 10 per cent of Reception class children were classified as obese in the UK.
graph showing health effects of obesity
And it’s taking its toll on our health. In 2016/17, there were 617 thousand admissions in NHS hospitals where obesity was a factor.
Graph showing number of people hospitalised due to obesity

How do I know if I’m obese?

The Body Mass Index is a simple way to get an indication of whether your weight is healthy in relation to your height.

All you need to do is enter your age, height and weight into an on-line calculator.

You can then see if you are underweight (BMI of below 18.5) or overweight (BMI of over 25)

Once you know your BMI, you know whether you need to be losing weight to improve your health.

a BMI of:

18.5 to 24.9 means you’re a healthy weight
25 to 29.9 means you’re overweight
30 to 39.9 means you’re obese
40 or above means you’re severely obese

If you are overweight, then you carry a higher risk of diseases such as heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Being obese can also affect your self esteem, quality of life and lead to depression and isolation.

The BMI is only a guide and isn’t applicable for everyone. For example, if you’re very athletic and have a lot of muscle your BMI may be overestimated by the calculation. Also, if you only carry weight around your middle then you may be unhealthy, even though your BMI appears in the normal range. It’s always worth discussing your results with a health care practitioner, but an online calculator gives you a useful starting point.

What causes obesity

Unless you have an underlying medical condition such as an under-active thyroid, obesity is generally caused by eating more calories than you burn. Our current sedentary lifestyles don’t help either! It’s easy to buy processed fatty and sugary foods and with our reliance on cars and technology we’re sitting down more than ever!

What can you do to lose weight safely?

There are three main areas to look at: physical activity, the foods you eat and psychological support. There’s no quick fix – it takes motivation, patience and commitment. In some circumstance, medication or surgery might be the answer as a last resort.

Physical activity

The health benefits of a physically active lifestyle are well documented and there is a large amount of evidence to suggest that regular  activity is related to reduced incidence of many  chronic conditions. Physical activity contributes to a wide range of health benefits and regular physical activity can improve health outcomes irrespective of whether individuals achieve weight loss.

The Department of Health recommend  adults should get at least 150 minutes (2½ hours) of moderate intensity activity in bouts of 10 minutes or more over a week. The easiest way to do this is to do 30 minutes on at least 5 days a week.

If you’ve not exercised in a long time, or don’t enjoy doing it, it’s worth hiring a personal trainer or joining a cycling, walking or swimming group. Think outside the box too, you don’t have to go to a gym or aerobics class – it’s important that you enjoy moving your body so that you’re motivated to keep going. How about hula hooping, kick boxing, circus skills or bellydancing for something different.


Poor diet and nutrition are recognised as major contributory risk factors for ill health and premature death.
Current UK diet and nutrition recommendations include:

At least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day
Daily intake of red and processed meat not to exceed 70 grams per day.
At least 1 portion of oily fish per week
Limit free sugars to no more than 5% of daily calorie intake.
Limit saturated fat intake to no more than 11% of daily calorie intake.

Knowing what to eat can be a minefield, so consider joining a slimming club or working with a dietician or nutritional therapist to get professional advice.

Psychological support

As mentioned before, losing weight takes perseverance, patience and determination. You may also be locked into comfort eating, depression or isolation, so it’s important to get physiological support. This might be from a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist (CBT) who can help you change the way you think about food and eating. Hypnotherapy can help relieve anxiety, increase confidence and help with eating problems. You could join a local slimming club where you’ll meet people who understand what you are going through, offer support and have similar goals. You might choose to learn mindfulness or meditation to help your relationship with the foods you eat so that you make better choices and can break the habit of mindless eating infront of the TV. Or you might confide in trusted friends and colleagues or a counsellor for moral support.

Read more about the NHS findings on obesity here.

How do the numbers add up in the Forest of Dean?

The number of children classified as obese in the Forest of Dean falls just below the national average at 19.1%. (the national average is 19.8%).

Sadly, the adults aren’t doing so well. 69.8 of adults in the Forest of Dean are overweight or obese (the national average is 64.8%).

What about you – have you checked your BMI recently?

the three things you need to tackle obesity

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