Diets, Weight Loss & Health

Diets, Weight Loss & Health
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A balanced diet, together with regular physical activity, can help people to maintain a healthy body weight and may reduce their chance of developing diet-related illnesses, such as heart disease and diabetes.

Obesity & Overweight

Obesity and being overweight are among the commonest preventable health problems in the UK; they are complex disorders, that arise from energy imbalance, i.e. more calories being eaten than being used.

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The latest Health Survey for England in 1997 shows that 62% of men and 53% of women are overweight compared with 39% of men and 32% of women in 1980. Whilst 6% of men and 8% of women were obese in 1980, this had more than doubled in men (17%) and women (20%) in 1996.

Balanced Diet

For many people, achieving a balanced diet in practice will mean eating more carbohydrate-rich foods such as bread, potatoes, rice and pasta;eating more fruit and vegetables, aiming for 5 portions a day;choosing leaner cuts of meat and lower fat versions of commonly eaten foods such as dairy products; drinking sensibly.

Weight Loss Goals

When setting goals for weight loss, success is more likely if the goals are realistic, the diet balanced and varied, and favourite foods, such as chocolate, cakes, biscuits and savoury snacks, are included from time to time.

It is important to remember that there are no ‘wonder’ diets or foods which can cause weight loss. Neither can certain slimming diets cause weight loss from a particular part of the body. Weight loss occurs in the areas where fat has been stored; usually on the hips and thighs in women and around the stomach in men.

Sensible Weight Loss

A sensible weight loss is about 1-2lb (approximately 0.5-1.0kg) a week. For many people, this will mean reducing their energy intake by about 1000kcal a day. This will depend on how much weight they need to lose, how active they are and whether they are female or male.

Physical Activity for Weight Control

Physical activity is important for maintaining a healthy body weight and for achieving weight loss. Not only does exercising expend some energy and make a person feel better, it can also help to tone muscles as weight is being lost. Exercising does not have to involve intense aerobic sessions. Walking, gardening and swimming are ideal activities; aim to gradually build up to 30 minutes per day.

For people with only a few pounds to lose, taking more opportunistic physical activity, e.g. walking up stairs instead of taking a lift, may be all that is needed.

Source: British Nutrition Foundation (1999)

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