We need to stop saying “it’s ok to be overweight”!
2018 Obesity and Overweight Report card
At the end of each year, I usually reflect back and assess how we are doing at “winning the battle of obesity”. But every year, there is the same dreary and bloody outcome. We are not only losing the battle but we are getting completely defeated. Every year, like the disenchanted football fan, I shake my head and hope that we will do better next year.But this year, I’m just going to say it. We need to stop sayings “it’s ok to be overweight”. We are losing this battle because we are not working as a team. We are too frightened to run onto the field head on and tackle the real enemies at hand. We are ducking and dancing round the opposition. We afraid of tackling weight like the ”white walkers”- a formidable army of fear and if we don’t start fighting, “Winter will come”.
It is NOT ok to be overweight
As family and friends, we need to be active “supporters”, cheering on small wins and having the confidence to tell those in “battle” that they need help or need to change their game strategy. No longer can we be passive onlookers on the sidelines allowing the slide further and further down the ladder to continue. More importantly, the health profession: doctors, nurses, allied health, need to address this issue “head on”, rather than waiting for the “patient to bring it up”. Tip-toeing around the subject and being overly concerned about “offence” has only increased our levels of overweight and obesity to epidemic proportions every year. We cannot afford to sit on the sidelines in 2019. We need to be the concerned coach; the inspired captain, leading our forces into battle. Losing weight is not easy, and we need to support and encourage people as well as addressing the issue rather than avoiding it
Yes, some of us do not want to take on this battle. But how long are we going to sit back as our Nation gets more overweight? This is the time not to be worried about offending people. More than 70% of Australians are now considered overweight or obese. However, it is our accelerated rates of morbid obesity (BMI > 50) which has rocketed to 9.4%; doubling in the last decade. We are now the “best” in the world in this category. This is not something to be proud of.
Chronic Disease and being overweight
Half of us have a chronic disease and these conditions are responsible for most deaths. Infact being overweight is linked to 22 diseases. So clearly the concept of being overweight is not just one of aesthetics. It has been quoted to be a “slow motion disaster” with so little done at the prevention level. In addition, being overweight can hamper the ability to control and manage these chronic conditions. According to this study by Cefalu, just by losing 5-10% of your weight, multiple medical conditions improve.
The facts we can no longer ignore
- In 2016 – $170 billion was spent on health and this has been growing exponentially every year.
- 6% of future disease burden can be avoided if current increases in levels of obesity and overweight were halted.
- 14% of future disease burden could be avoided if those who were considered overweight or obese reduced and maintained their body mass index (BMI) by 1 level.
- 93% of Aussies are not getting their daily vegetable intake and less than 50% consumed their daily fruit intake.
Unfortunately that we are passing our habits to our kids with more than 25% of children aged between 5-14 considered overweight or obese.
If these children were able to reduce their weight, they would reduce their future disease burden by a whopping 34.5%. We need to act now for our children. We Need to be the role models; We need to encourage increased fresh fruit and vegetables at all meals, reducing screen time encouraging physical activity. It starts within the family.
There is no such thing as healthy obesity
The promotion of the concept of “health obesity” still never fails to shock me. We need to stop pulling the wool over our eyes that there are no consequences of being overweight because clearly there are. The idea that you can be “healthy at every size” has been disproven time and time again in the research. Three major studies published recently confirmed that individuals who were overweight were at higher risk of heart disease and metabolic diseases than their slimmer, metabolically slimmer counterparts. (Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology). This has similar conclusions to other studies, proving that being overweight is a risk factor no matter how healthy you are. In fact one Lancet study revealed that women who maintained being overweight over 20 years had a 57% higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
We can no longer sit on the sidelines
This is the year we need to act. Whether we are health professions, patients, friends or family, we can no longer sit as spectators as the battle of tackling overweight in Australia. We need to be active soldiers in this battle. Yes, it is confronting. Yes, it is challenging. Yes, we run the risk of discussions that can be emotional and to some offensive. But what has being polite and “correct” achieved in 2018: A level of overweight and obesity of greater than 70%.
Written by Dr Marlene Tham
Director of Medical & Mind Weight Loss