The fashion of our age is thin. We are regularly surrounded by images supporting the myth that thin – often unhealthily thin – is beautiful. The myth is so prevalent that it is hard to remember that being underweight is associated with problems such as reduced fertility, bone thinning, rapid aging and hormone imbalance. Unfortunately there are many “quick weight loss” solutions being sold online. These may not be effective, and may cause harm when used without medical advise and supervision.
On the flip side, being overweight or obese is proven to increase your risk of most if not all age-related problems. Whether it is hip and knee pains from osteoarthritis, reflux symptoms, hiatus hernia, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, gallstones – all of these are associated with being overweight. It is advisable to address this early, before the health risks increase.
The body mass index or BMI is often used to assess healthy weight. As a rule of thumb:
- a BMI of below 19 is associated with menstrual problems, bone thinning, infertility, and general ill-health, and you should make lifestyle changes.
- a BMI of over 25 is considered overweight, can lead to fertility concerns, and means you should consider lifestyle changes to get out of the risk range.
- a BMI of over 30 is directly associated with Type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, infertility and many more diseases.
However, if you are an athlete or bodybuilder, the standard BMI measures are less accurate, due to the different distribution of body fat.
For the rest of us (who are not professional athletes or bodybuilders), it is easy to work out our BMI using an online calculator.
A more significant value is the measurement of your abdominal circumference (or girth), and the ratio of your waist measurement to your hip measurement. This gives valuable information about how the internal fat is distributed in your body. This “body shape” measurement tells us whether your visceral fat (the fat that surrounds your internal organs such as the liver and the heart) is more than it should be.
Dr Aarti Narayan-Denning will take your medical history and previous weight loss efforts to recommend an appropriate treatment plan including lifestyle changes and prescription medication where required. Where it is not advisable for you to take medication for weight loss, you will be advised about this.