Obesity and the Body Mass Index (BMI)
More than a quarter of adults in the UK are classified as obese, with more than 40% of men and 33% of women deemed to be overweight. Current interpretations describe a Body Mass Index (BMI) of more than 40 as Morbid Obesity, 31-40 as Moderate-severe obesity, 26-30 as Mild obesity, and 20-25 as a Normal weight range. BMI is the term used to describe a persons weight in relation to their height, and although there are some flaws in the interpretation of BMI e.g. it doesn’t consider lean muscle mass or bone mineral density meaning some elite, muscular athletes may be wrongly categorised as obese!
The key thing to remember is that BMI is a guide, it gives a good estimation of ones weight in relation to their height, and whether it’s within a desirable and healthy range.
Obesity significantly increases ones risk of developing acute and chronic conditions such as Type 2 Diabetes, Heart disease and some cancers, as well as reducing mobility which exacerbates the problem causing a vicious circle of increased joint pain, lack of mobility and excess weight gain! Despite this being clearly documented in the literature, and broadcasted across various channels including TV, Radio and Social Media, the publics perception of being overweight STILL isn’t what it should be. Why are people still consuming to excess, having that extra beer, cake or packet of crisps, why are many seemingly incapable of saying ‘No’ to extra servings and larger portions!? Is this a conscious choice, a consequence of society and lifestyle, or is it an uncontrollable hormonal and genetic urge that an unfortunate portion of the population possess?
Obesity classified as a Disease : Rightly or wrongly
Obesity has recently been classified as a ‘disease’ which has led to much criticism within the health and fitness community. Many people assert that by definition, a disease should be contagious, questioning whether ‘obesity’ fits the parameters for ‘disease’ classification. Irrespective of whether obesity is a disease or not, something needs to be done, and the ‘disease’ classification has certainly raised its profile as well as increasing tolerance and understanding in the community. If the ‘contagious’ parameter is anything to go by, then auto-immune conditions such as Coeliac disease are no more of a disease than obesity! Coeliac disease isn’t passable from person to person, yet it’s still agreed to be a disease.
Obesities burden on the NHS
Let’s forget the controversy surrounding the classification for a moment, what’s most important here is that something direct and purposeful is applied to public health in order to address the devastation that obesity is causing to peoples lives…and the NHS! Today, obesity is costing the NHS an estimated £5.1 billion each year, this is a crippling cost for something that is (in general) preventable (Human Kinetics Sport, 2013).
Lifestyle weight management programmes
These so called ‘Lifestyle weight management programme's are an initiative proposed by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) who have drafted guidance on how to most effectively address the obesity epidemic plaguing the UK! The programme works under the premise that the things we do on a daily basis shape us both metaphorically and literally. Our habitual actions form our lifestyle and visa versa, so in order to make a change to the current obesity epidemic we need to address our lifestyle and habitual actions. One of the main ways the government aim to attack obesity is to amalgamate a number of components that aim to help people to reduce their calorie intake, increase their physical activity levels, and change their habitual behaviour (NICE, 2013).
Referral or Self-referral
If somebody is in the ‘action’ phase of the ‘stages of change’ model, i.e. if they are ready to start to make a change to their current weight, then they would be able to self-refer to the Lifestyle Weight Management Services. Otherwise, if a Doctor or health professional see’s fit then they could refer them as part of their treatment or rehab plan.
The pursuit of health and longevity is a tough one, but soon enough it becomes second nature and, wait for it…ENJOYABLE! Lifestyle changes are not easy, people need support and Lifestyle Weight Management Services would be the port of call for many. Lets hope the government back it, the people embrace it, and it makes a difference in the ongoing battle against excessive weight and obesity!
Human Kinetics Sport, (2013). Human Kinetics Sport, Health & Fitness Blog. New draft guidance on lifestyle weight management services. Retrieved 30th October, 2013, from http://humankinetics.me/2013/10/17/new-draft-guidance-on-lifestyle-weight-management-services/
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), (2013). New draft guidance on lifestyle weight management services. Retrieved 30th October, 2013, from http://www.nice.org.uk/newsroom/pressreleases/NewDraftGuidanceLifestyleWeightManagementServices.jsp