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Obesity facts

The lowdown on being overweight

Obesity is on the rise and there are many costs associated with being overweight from both from a health perspective and a financial one. Read on to find out the weighty facts on obesity.

Obesity is on the rise

Obesity continues to rise in the UK, a quarter of men and a fifth of women are obese. A further 41 per cent of men and 33 per cent of women are overweight. And don’t forget the children, obesity continues to rise in this age group too. Insurance companies have known for nearly a century that very heavy people or very light people are likely to die young and are therefore unprofitable to insure.

Being overweight also costs us all money. It’s reported that the cost to the NHS is approximately £485 million a year and that obesity-related disorders result in 18 million sick days a year.

Being overweight or obese can affect nearly every part of your body it can increase your chances of having a heart attack, developing diabetes and having high blood pressure.

Obesity can also cause:

  • Breathlessness
  • Back pain
  • Sweating
  • Infertility
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Strokes
  • Certain cancers colon, prostate, ovarian and postmenopausal breast cancer
  • Aching joints
  • Difficulties with walking
  • Depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Raised ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels 

So why worry about obesity?

The main reason is that it can severely hamper you from living life to the full. Obesity takes off an average of nine years from the lifespan. Some studies suggest that two thirds of British adults are currently either watching their weight or actively trying to lose some.

You can reduce your health risks though. It is not all bad news! We now know that losing just 5 to 10 per cent of your body weight can provide many health benefits such as:

  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Improving blood sugar control for people with diabetes
  • Reducing the risk of angina
  • Improving the blood cholesterol levels

So losing weight (and keeping it off) can really help you live the life you want; a longer and better quality life. A weight loss of 5 to 10kg (11 to 22lb) can improve back and joint pain, reduce breathlessness and improve sleeping problems. 

Can you identify with this lady?

‘I can’t be the person that I want to be, I’d love to run around and play with my children but my weight stops me doing this’.

People who have lost weight say:

  • ‘I feel so much fitter, and my legs don’t rub together when I walk anymore’
  • ‘I haven’t lost much weight, only 11lb, but I already feel less out of breath when I run for the bus’
  • ‘I feel so much more confident than I used to, I can now wear different clothes, I am not hiding under a baggy t-shirt all the time’

One of the main differences now is that we do so much less activity than we used to. The number of calories that we use is far less than in the 1950s.

ACTIVITY
Calories no longer used after 50 years of labor-saving devices 1950s/2000s

PER WEEK
Shopping on foot/car and supermarket trolley 2400/276

Washing clothes by hand/machine
1500/270

Making a coal fire/ lighting a gas fire
1300/almost zero

Making a bed with blankets/duvet
575/300

PER HOUR
Mowing lawn by hand mower/electric mower 500/180

Driving without power steering/with it
96/75

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