An Focal · Features · Health

How much is too much?

For the past couple of years the buzz word on the health scene has been obesity, but has the over use of this word lost its real meaning?

Obesity is the medical term used to describe the state of being overweight to the point where it is harmful to your health.

An obese adult is three times more likely to develop diabetes, compared to a person at a healthy weight. The statistics are even worse for children and teenagers.

Obesity is the most common nutritional disorder in the world and between 1990 and 2000, the number of obese people aged 16 – 24 has more than tripled.

The World Health Organisation defines obesity as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. A person’s BMI is calculated based on their weight and height.

A person with a BMI of under 25 is considered normal and the risk of developing conditions such as diabetes is at a minimum. A BMI of 25 – 30 is considered overweight and the risk to health is increased.

No hospital service in the country is currently able to deal with people who are morbidly obese as the bed cannot withstand the pressure. A hospital bed can take a weight of 170 kilos (26 and a half stone).

There are many factors that contribute obesity such as an imbalance between energy intake (food) and energy output (activity).  There are also environmental factors including marketing, advertising, increasing portion sizes, accessibility and availability of foods and facilities and increased car use among other factors

There is no short cut to getting healthy, and no amazing programme. Your body is a temple and you have to treat is as such.

By simply eating healthily and doing a bit of exercise you may be saving your life. Being overweight is bad for every aspect of life, health, physical, emotional and social.

Yup, that’s right even social. No one wants to go dance the night away with someone who is out of breath at the end of the first song.

While obesity is of course a cause for concern being BMI obsessed can be dangerous too. A BMI does not take into account muscle tone and as we all know muscle weighs heavier than fat tissue.

At a time when size 0 is considered the ultimate goal a healthy BMI can be hard to maintain. Being underweight is just as destructive to your health as being overweight.

The BMI scale is a guideline not a bible, if you are not within the healthy numbers on the scale but you feel good and more importantly if your health is not at risk than through the scale out the window.

Text published in An Focal XXI Issue 5 on 13 November 2012 and also online at


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