Weight management – mostly tummies
Abdominal, (or visceral), fat is a key player in a variety of health problems — much more so than the kind you can grasp with your hand. Visceral fat (belly fat), on the other hand, lies out of reach, deep within the abdominal cavity, where it pads the spaces between our abdominal organs.
Belly fat doesn't just lay idle at the beltline. Researchers describe it as an active "organ" in the body -- one that churns out hormones and inflammatory substances.
"Abdominal fat is thought to break down easily into fatty acids, which flow directly into the liver and into muscle," says Lewis Kuller, MD, DPH, professor and past chair of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health. When these excess fatty acids drain into the liver, they trigger a chain reaction -- increasing the production of LDL 'bad' cholesterol and triglycerides. During this time insulin can also become less effective in controlling blood glucose, so insulin resistance sets in, he explains.
A small drop weight
Belly Fat is Worse Than Other Fat
As women go through their middle years, their proportion of fat to body weight tends to increase — more than it does in men. Especially at menopause, extra kilos tend to gather around the midsection, as the ratio of fat to lean tissue shifts and fat storage begins favouring the upper body over the hips and thighs. Even women who don’t actually gain weight may still gain inches at the waist.
At one time, women might have accepted these changes as an inevitable fact of postmenopausal life, but know that as our waistlines grow, so do our health risks.
Why is belly fat a concern for men?
People who gain belly fat are at greater risk of serious health problems, than are people who accumulate fat in other areas.
If you want to reduce body fat, you need to start consuming fewer calories than you use on a daily basis. In time, your body will start converting fat into useable energy, and by doing so fat stores will begin to vanish across your body. But they won't just magically disappear from one particular place.
To be really serious about reducing body fat and getting rid of that abdominal fat, it has to be a whole-body approach. Plus abdominal fat is probably going to be the last fat to go.
How can you tell if you have too much belly fat?
Waist size is a good indicator of whether there is too much belly fat. Although measurements that compare hip and waist circumference (waist-to-hip ratio) or compare height and weight (body mass index) are more precise, our waist size alone can give a good estimate. For most men, the risk factors for heart disease and other diseases increase with a waist size greater than 102 centimetres (40 inches).
To measure your waist:
- Place a tape measure around your bare abdomen just above your hipbone.
- Pull the tape measure until it fits snugly around you but doesn't push into your skin.
- Make sure the tape measure is level all the way around.
- Relax, exhale and measure your waist — no sucking in your belly!
Does age play a role in gaining belly fat?
As you age, you lose muscle — especially if you're not physically active. Muscle loss can slow the rate at which your body burns calories. In turn, if you don't limit your calories or increase your physical activity, you may gain weight.
|Maximum Suggested Waist Circumference in different adult ethnic groups||Men||Women|
|New Zealand European People||Less than 102cm||Less than 88cm|
|Pacific Island and Maori People||Less than 102cm||Less than 88cm|
|Asian (South-East and North Asia) and South Asian People||Less than 90cm||Less than 80cm|
2007 Clinical Handbook – NZ Dietitians Organisation
From ADHB Nutrition Guide for Professionals
A HEALTHY WEIGHT
A healthy weight is different from person to person and is influenced mostly by age and ethnicity.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
BMI is the current standard for determining if someone’s weight is healthy, overweight or obese. In New Zealand healthcare professionals use the chart below as a guide.
Classification of weight in adults
Primary Care Handbook 2012
What causes overweight?
Overweight and obesity are the result a long-term excess of energy intake (food and drinks consumption) over energy used at the resting rate (basal metabolic) and physical activity. Although some people are more genetically susceptible to weight gain than others, most experts believe it is due to living in an environment that promotes over-consumption of food and drinks and limits opportunities for physical activity.
Calculating Body Mass Index (or BMI)
The Body Mass Index (or BMI) is a calculation of the ratio between your weight and your height. The formula is used to determine the amount of body fat you carry. The formula is your weight divided by your height in meters, squared (BMI = kg/m2).
|Classification||NZ European People||Pacific Island and Maori People||Asian (South-East and North Asia) and South Asian People||Risk of obesity related diseases|
|Underweight||Less than 18.5||Less than 18.5||Less than 18.5||Low|
|Healthy weight||18.5 - 25||18.5 - 26||18.5 - 23||Normal|
|Overweight||25 - 30||26 - 32||23 - 25||High|
|Obesity||Greater than 30||Greater than 32||Greater than 25||Very High|
NZ Dietitian Organisation guidelines
BALANCED WAYS TO REACH A HEALTHY WEIGHT
Whether you have tried to lose weight on your own or with the help of a weight-loss program, nutrition experts say that the focus is too often on severely restrictive diets and unrealistic goals. Not being able to reach those goals can set you up for an endless cycle of failure and discouragement.
To increase the chances of success focus on managing weight instead of losing weight. This involves adopting a lifestyle that includes healthy eating plus regular physical activity.
- Make health, not appearance, the weight management priority. A realistic goal is to achieve a healthy weight for you.
- Dieting often lasts for only the short term and rarely produces long-term success. Eating healthier over time will result in weight loss without your feeling a sense of deprivation. Choose a healthy eating plan that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, lots of whole grains, and fewer high-fat, salty, and fried foods.
- People who are physically active are more successful at losing and keeping off extra weight. For weight management, experts recommend a combined total of at least 30 to 60 minutes of moderate activity most, if not all, days of the week, incorporating both aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercises.
Write a plan
To ensure your weight-management plan is safe and effective, take advice from your healthcare team. Ask yourself the following questions-
Does this plan
- allow me to eat my favourite foods in moderation?
- include a variety of foods from all five major groups plus oils in Diabetes New Zealand Healthy Plate?
- include appealing foods I'll enjoy eating for the rest of my life, not just for a few weeks or months?
- include foods available at the supermarket where I usually shop?
- include regular physical activity?
Aim for a plan that lets you answer "yes" to all these questions.
EMOTIONAL EATING – Feeding the feeling
When we're happy, our food choices can be affected. Food does more than fill our stomachs -- it also satisfies feelings, and when we respond to those feelings with comfort food when your stomach isn't growling, that’s emotional eating.
Here are some suggestions to help break the cycle -
- Learn to recognise hunger Next time you reach for a snack, ask yourself what’s driving it.
- Keep a record in a meal plan Take the time to create a “mood and food” journal. Write down what you eat each day, along with the emotions you were experiencing at the time and whether you were truly hungry. You may find that specific feelings, such anger or sadness, lead to your overeating. Once you recognize these triggers, you can learn healthier ways to deal with them.
- Make time for relaxation Take time for yourself every day.
- Take time with friends Surrounding yourself with friends and family who support your efforts to change your eating habits can improve your chances of success. It may also be helpful to join a support group.
- Aim for 8 hours sleep each night When you don’t get the sleep you need, your body can crave sugary and fatty foods.
- Cultivate other interests Finding an activity that you enjoy, such as yoga, playing a musical instrument, or painting, can increase self-confidence, which is often poor in emotional eaters. If you find that your eating is driven by boredom, a new passion can fill your hours and make you less likely to look to food for emotional satisfaction.
- Get active Dancing with the grandchildren or walking helps with energy.
- Get help if necessary If you can’t control emotional eating on your own, consider getting professional help to change your behaviour. Speak to your practice nurse who can recommend a dietitian.