Body mass index (BMI) can be used to determine whether you are overweight. A BMI of 25-30 is defined as overweight and a BMI of 30 and above is defined as obese.
BMI = Weight (kg)
Your waist measurement can also be a good indicator of whether you are overweight. Males have a higher chance of developing obesity-related diseases in the future if their waist circumference is greater than 94cm (37 inches). Females have a higher risk of developing health problems if their waist circumference is greater than 80cm (31.5 inches).
The two key aspects to losing weight most effectively are eating a healthy, well-balanced diet and doing regular exercise.
Advice on how to lose weight:
• Identify anything in your life which may be contributing to your weight gain or your being overweight. For example, asking your doctor to check that your thyroid is not underactive, which means you have a too low metabolism.
• Set realistic, short-term targets for losing weight which are achievable. A healthy rate of weight loss is approximately 0.5-1 kg (1-2lb) a week depending on your current weight.
• Keep yourself motivated and continue to eat healthily and be active once you have lost your target weight to ensure that you do not gain it back.
• Make regular appointments with your GP who can offer advice and possibly treatment to help you lose weight. For example, there are drugs which can be taken to aid weight loss. They are usually only appropriate to people who have a BMI that is over 30, have been eating less and increasing their activity but they have still not lost the recommended weight.
• Join a slimming club where you can support and motivate each other to reach your common goal. It can help to involve your friends or family with your aim to lose weight.
To achieve a well-balanced diet, try to follow these guidelines:
• Eat a minimum of five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
• Avoid eating foods high in fat and sugar, such as cakes, biscuits and fried food.
• Be aware of your salt intake and ensure you eat less than six grams of salt a day (one teaspoon).
• Eat a wide variety of foods so that you receive all the food groups, vitamins and nutrients that you require.
• Eat wholegrain bread and pasta which will make you feel fuller for longer.
• Eat breakfast to avoid the need to snack throughout the morning.
• Watch your alcohol intake as it is high in calories. Drink no more than 14 units per week if you are a woman and no more than 21 units per week if you are a man.
Some tips to help you avoid eating too much:
• Sit down at a table to eat your meal and concentrate on your food rather than being distracted by something.
• Eat slowly.
• Write a shopping list and make sure you only buy the things on your list.
• Make sure that you are hungry before eating.
• Be aware of times when you have overeaten in the past such as when you are alone, stressed or at parties.
Exercise, when combined with a healthy diet, is an enjoyable and very effective way to lose weight. You should aim to do 30 minutes of exercise at least three times a week. There are many different forms of exercise you can do and it is best to find a form of activity that suits your lifestyle and which you will be able to do in the long-term. When exercising you should aim to be a little breathless and feel your heart beating faster. You could cycle or walk to work or to the shops rather than driving there. Even brisk walking, climbing stairs and gardening are all forms of exercise. A good way to enjoy and do exercise regularly is to organise something with a friend such as swimming, an exercise class or walking the dog together. Exercise can also benefit your psychological wellbeing from the hormones that are released in the brain during exercise which can reduce stress and promote happiness. Furthermore, evidence suggests that not only do you burn calories whilst exercising but you also burn more calories throughout the day than someone who is sitting most of the time.
Obesity has been linked to several devastating diseases including coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. Being overweight can also lead to a low self-esteem. By losing weight and becoming fitter, you are looking after your health and giving yourself a better chance of a long and more fulfilling life.
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