With the UK recently being branded as the most obese country in the EU it’s clear that it’s time to start making some changes. Nearly 65% of the UK’s population are overweight and almost a quarter are classified as obese.
Obesity is responsible for about one in every ten deaths in Britain and costs the NHS £5.1 billion a year. It vastly increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, which is the leading cause of blindness in people of working age and leads to more than 100 amputations a week.
But how do we change it? More fad diets and ‘the best’ new exercise regimes pop up on social media every day. But what do we really need to do to get the weight off and keep it off?
Well the short answer is that we need to expend more calories through exercise than we put in through eating in order to lose weight. But not all foods are equal; some high calorie foods such as avocados and nuts, which are banned on many diets, actually contain high quantities of important vitamins and minerals which are an essential part of our diet and can even help to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Meanwhile many low-calorie foods and drinks may be high in sugar instead.
The Government recommends that all healthy individuals over the age of five years eat a healthy, balanced diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables and starchy foods.
The Eatwell Plate is a pictorial representation of the recommended balance of the different food groups in the diet. It aims to encourage people to choose the right balance and variety of foods to help them obtain the wide range of nutrients they need to stay healthy.
A healthy, balanced diet should:
- include plenty of fruit and vegetables – aim for at least 5 portions a day of a variety of different types
- include meals based on starchy foods, such as bread, pasta, rice and potatoes (including high-fibre varieties where possible)
- include moderate amounts of milk and dairy products – choosing low-fat options where possible
- include moderate amounts of foods that are good sources of protein – such as meat, fish, eggs, beans and lentils
- be low in foods that are high in fat, especially saturated fat, high in sugar and high in salt (typically processed foods)
Exercise to lose weight needs to be a combination of cardiovascular and resistance training to be most effective. Other than that, there’s not really a right or wrong here – what exercise you chose will depend on what you enjoy and any other injuries or health problems you might have. If you’re not sure it’s always best to consult your GP or physio first. Picking an exercise that you enjoy means you are much more likely to keep it up in the long term. By joining a class or inviting a friend to join in with you, exercise becomes more of a social activity than a chore and so you’re much more likely to stick at it. Aim for 5 x 30minute sessions every week, this can be anything that gets the heart rate up – from gardening and hoovering to a gym session, bike ride or swim. If you’re interested in our group exercise classes we currently offer pilates, active backs and positive steps, as well as individualised rehab plans with one of our sports therapists.
Wherever you start, start with small changes to your diet and your exercise routine that are both achievable and sustainable.