Few people realise how much their health is impaired, and their life expectancy shortened, by carrying excess body fat. Entering into a state of denial regarding our unhygienic life style may ease our anxiety, and assuage our guilt, but does nothing to increase the quality of our lives. Some months ago we drew attention to some of the facts which determine the ease with which we maintain a healthy weight. Here are six more of these tips, all of which are drawn from the medical literature.
Realise the Threat Obesity is not a simple question of carrying excess bulk, it’s a disease with widespread health risks and behavioural consequences. For instance, a recent study of data collected from 43,000 US children aged between 10-17 years revealed that obese children were twice as likely to suffer from a spectrum of 19 different diseases ranging from depression to learning disabilities, asthma and headaches.
Park your Car and Rediscover your Legs The average Briton is walking 80 fewer miles a year than a decade ago, according to researchers at Edinburgh University who warn that this ‘glut of inactivity’ is now the fourth leading cause of premature death worldwide – after hypertension, smoking and raised blood sugar levels.
Look to the Future Childhood obesity in Britain has more than tripled in the past 30 years. Since most gross children go on to become overweight adults, the proper time to start tackling the obesity menace is from the womb onwards.
Revive the Ritual of Eating en Famille Most children who eat take-away snacks while watching TV, or playing computer games, consume far too many calories and rarely get their recommended intake of five portions of fruit and vegetables. A study of 2,300 children, attending primary schools in deprived areas of London, revealed that this risk is reduced when youngsters sit down at a table for a family meal. These children ate 50 per cent more fruit and vegetables than those who never ate with their families. “Even just Sunday lunch around the table can help improve the diets of our families,” reported the lead researcher.
Beware Social Websites People who interact with contacts they make through social websites burn up far fewer calories than those who interact with
friends they associate with in the real world. This was proved by scientists at Columbia University who studied a group of five hundred internet users and found that those who used Facebook the most, were at greatest risk of carrying excessive body weight.
Watch your intake of liquid calories Most people don’t realise that the alcohol they drink is almost as energy-dense as fat. Fat contains nine calories a gram, neat alcohol seven calories a gram,) This means that a pint of a typical lager contains about 255 calories, which is the same as a Mars bar. According to the World Cancer Research Fund, moderate drinkers get about 200 calories a day from alcohol. This means that many obese people would cease to have a weight problem if they could reduce their intake of booze, or maybe set aside a month each year for a period of total abstinence.