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Where do you draw the line?

What do you think ‘obese’ looks like? In our line-up, can you decide where our model moves from overweight to obese?

More than 65% of the population is carrying extra weight. As a society, we have become so accepting of this fact that most people can no longer recognise when someone is overweight or obese. We gasp in disbelief at quite how small a healthy weight is. This is leading us into deep trouble.

Being obese shortens lives and puts people at a significantly increased risk of illnesses such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and cancer, to list just a few.

If everyone believes they are perfectly fine because their friends, family and colleagues are heavier than them, then as a nation we are kidding ourselves.

Distorted reality

Do we ever really know how big we are? Overweight people commonly think they are a healthy weight and those who are overweight may acknowledge the fact, but not realise they are actually obese.

Crossing the line

The body mass index equation (BMI) is the simplest way to discover whether potential health issues loom in the future. The NHS uses BMI, waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio measurements to calculate the health risk of individuals. Weight status categories (such as healthy weight, overweight and obese) are then used to interpret BMI levels. And, yes, a great athlete’s score probably would be deceptive as muscle does weigh more than fat. But how many people with a BMI of 30+ have the bodies, musculature and capabilities of an athlete?

Waist measurement is crucial. Slim adults with a ‘spare tyre’ of fat around their waists have twice as high mortality risk as those who are overweight without the ‘tyre’.

Where would you draw the line?

Wrong-sighted

Where did you draw the line between overweight and obese? We need to stop conning ourselves. Obesity will kill. Not immediately, but it does increase the likelihood of heart disease and stroke, both principal causes of death. And with obese people having a reduced life expectancy of up to ten years, there’s less life to enjoy. An obese woman, for example, is an incredible 13 times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, being overweight or obese significantly raises the likelihood of:

Cancer

Musculoskeletal pain

Osteoarthritis

Incontinence

Hypertension

Type 2 diabetes (amputations/blindness/kidney disease)

Depression is part of the equation…

One of the many outcomes of obesity is the damage to mental health. Not only do obese people have to live and cope in a society that erroneously considers fat shaming acceptable, but individuals also have to deal with the psychological problems that may have been part of the reason they became obese in the first place.

What next?

If we don’t even realise what an unhealthy weight is, then how can anyone ever help themselves? Doctors, health practitioners and consultants all need to make it clear to patients when their weight is an issue. They also need to provide the correct support tools – including psychological aid for obese patients. As a society we need to relearn what obesity looks like in the flesh, so that we can recognise the danger that lies ahead.

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