Why you should care about Healthy Weight Week

Dangers of being overweightHealth Weeks come and go, and unless we are directly affected by the condition or illness being highlighted, or know someone who is, we generally don’t take too much notice.

This week (15-21 February 2016) is Australia’s Healthy Weight Week.

You should take note, because statistically, your health probably depends upon it.

 

Obesity rates are rising

According to a recent study published in the Lancet, shows that Australian obesity rates are climbing faster than anywhere else in the world.

Currently, 63 per cent of adults are classified as overweight, with 28 per cent obese. Alarmingly, around 25 per cent of teenagers carry too much weight.

To put that in perspective, out of every 10 of you reading this blog — around six of you are overweight with three of you being obese. One quarter of all teenagers who read this are likely to be overweight also.

 

Carrying too much weight is dangerous

For most of us, being overweight is uncomfortable, which is why we want to lose weight in the first place. We struggle zipping up our jeans, that spare tyre around our middle is constantly in the way, and we can’t keep up with the kids anymore.

But some of us are ‘comfortable’ carrying a few (or more) extra kilos. While it’s great to feel comfortable in your own skin, it has been scientifically proven that carrying too much body fat puts your life at risk.

Being overweight can lead to a host of problems, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Musculoskeletal problems including osteoarthritis and back pain
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Gallstones.

Even if you currently don’t exhibit signs of any of the above you are at a higher risk to develop them later on, than someone who is a healthy weight.

For the sake of our long-term health, most of us need to address our weight issues.

 

What you can do

Healthy Weight Week, an initiative of the Dietitians Association of Australia, aims to address the problem of obesity in Australia.

The first point of action should be to determine whether you are a healthy weight or not. A simple check in the mirror, will usually suffice for most of us.

Dangers of being overweightIf you need to change your life for the better and shed some excess body fat, speak to your doctor.

Losing weight is not just a matter of “going on a diet”. If you carry excess fat, you should have a check-up with your doctor to see if you have any underlying health issues (e.g. high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, etc.). Once you have a baseline for your health, your doctor will be able to advise you on how much weight you should aim to lose, and the safest and most effective way to go about it.

It’s never too late to make a change for the good, and avoid becoming one of Australia’s obesity statistics. So why not take the first step today?

 

Further information: http://www.healthyweightweek.com.au/

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The health benefits of FebFast

Health benefits of Feb FastIf you’re one of the many who have signed up for FebFast this year, then you are probably counting down the days until your ‘fast’ is over.

FebFast is the great Australian ‘pause for a cause’. Participants choose to quit alcohol or sugar for the month of February in an effort to raise funds to support youth programs across the country. In addition to raising funds, many Australians use this as a kick-start to a healthier version of themselves.

Whether you have chosen to give up alcohol or sugar for the full 29 days (that’s right, it’s a leap year!), no doubt you will feel challenged along the way.

During these challenging times, it may help to think about the health benefits of giving up alcohol or sugar.

Health benefits of a month without alcohol or sugar

According to the FebFast website, most participants feel healthier after a month without booze or the sweet stuff. They report sleeping better, having increased energy levels, are more productive at work, and of course, save a great deal of money!

In particular:

  • 62 per cent lose weight
  • 81 per cent save money and invest it in something like a holiday
  • 86 per cent become more aware of how alcohol and sugar impact their health
  • 60 per cent are more productive at work, enabling them to have more time with their family and friends
  • 44 per cent sleep better, thereby gaining more energy

Health Benefits of Feb FastBacked up by research

The above claims are not without scientific backing. A pilot study by University College London found that participants who abstained from alcohol for one month had reduced blood pressure and improved cholesterol and insulin resistance. This in turn leads to better live health and a reduced risk of developing diabetes. [i]

A further study from the University of California San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital found that children who gave up sugar for nine days exhibited significant health changes. These included a drop in blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin, as well as improved liver function.[ii]

So the next time you find it hard to resist reaching for a beer, or downing a chocolate bar, remind yourself you are not only contributing to a good cause, but doing something positive for your health.

For further information visit the FebFast website.

References:

[i] Andy Coglan, Our liver vacation: Is a dry January really worth it?, New Scientist  published 31 December 2013; accessed 5 February 2016, https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22129502-600-our-liver-vacation-is-a-dry-january-really-worth-it

[ii] Juliana Bunim, Obese Children’s Health Rapidly Improves with Sugar Reduction Unrelated to Calories, University of California San Francisco, published 27 October 2015; accessed 4 February 2016 https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2015/10/136676/obese-childrens-health-rapidly-improves-sugar-reduction-unrelated-calories