If you are not overweight, it can be easy to think that the obesity is not your problem. But with around 60 per cent of our adult population overweight or obese, Susannah Gilbert explains that it is an issue that is going touch all our lives.
Even if you don’t have a weight problem, the chances are you will know a relative or a friend that does. As the years pass this will only get worse as obesity issues are affecting younger and younger people. It is up to us all as a nation to speak up and work towards change for ourselves and future generations.
“Obesity does not have only one cause,” states nutritionist Jessica Villa “even though diet plays a major role in the development of this problem, it could be referred to as an ‘umbrella’ term, meaning that there are multiple causes to obesity, such as lifestyle, diet, illness, social environment, level of education, etc.”
Diet alone may not make you obese, but the sum of a sedentary life, together with a fast-food-based diet, laced with saturated fats and refined sugars, could most certainly lead to obesity. Fizzy drinks are a big problem too, full of refined sugar syrup, which is readily turned into fat by the body and challenges the pancreas, which can lead to diabetes. People need to stay away from refined, prepared foods and stick to a more natural, wholesome diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, wholemeal breads and pastas, grilled meats or fish and plenty of natural water. Putting thought into what we eat can really make the difference in our health and is the best policy for an obesity-free life.”
There is no quick fix. If there was the world would not be facing an obesity crisis. We all know that heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancers are more common in obese people, but there are also a whole range of other problems that overweight people face.
We regularly hear from people about their struggle with emotional issues relating to food and weight. This is something that covers a wide arena from bullying to low self-esteem, bulimia, depression and comfort eating. The latter can start subconsciously and then lead to a lifetime of unhealthy food habits. These problems are often kept secret which can in turn cause feelings of isolation.
We live in a society that offers to supersize everything for us from plate sizes to milk shakes. Walking into some shops there are stands of fat filled products to tempt the shopper before they even reach the main aisles. Trays of muffins and cakes stand proudly in prime position. What makes it even more astonishing is the quantity in these packs – ten doughnuts are not an unusual sight! We know as a nation we need to review our relationship with food and portion control so this doesn’t help the problem.
Being active is important for us all, but this in itself can be a challenge both physically and emotionally for overweight people – a swimming pool or gym can be daunting. What’s needed is more nationwide plus size only sports sessions. This will not only raise people’s activity levels but also their self-esteem. Mobility issues are also a common problem. We also need to make sure overweight children are given every opportunity to get active in an environment where they don’t feel uncomfortable or bullied.
Don’t be put off, everyone has their Day One: make today yours. You can do it. Set yourself smaller goals – a stone at a time – so you reach your targets. For those of you without weight problems, don’t judge. Offer positive support and remember people may have emotional issues that need to be dealt with too. Any long-term approach has to be a holistic one to help curb the obesity crisis and create foundations for a healthier future.
Support is at hand
Big Matters addresses all aspects of daily life for overweight people in the UK. Being overweight can be very isolating and Big Matters aims to help people interact with others in the same position by offering positive support. Lifestyle information on a wide range of aspects through from nutrition to media requests and practical items such as extra large towels, the site constantly evolves with the input from individuals around the UK. Since 2004, its non-judgemental approach has been a focus of support for those living with obesity and will continue to expand its reach and services offered. For more information visit www.bigmatters.co.uk