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Defeating Disease - Overweight and obesity

Defeating Disease - Overweight and obesity

How many people in the UK suffer from overweight and obesity?

The UK has one of the worst rates of obesity in Europe. In England almost two-thirds of the population is either overweight or obese. If current trends continue, obesity is set to overtake smoking as the leading cause of premature deaths.

What is the role of diet in causing obesity?

At the simplest level, obesity and weight gain are caused by regularly taking in more calories than your body needs. This will lead to excess body fat.

While chocolate and cakes are the foods most slimmers elbow, the main source of fat is actually meat. It contributes a staggering 23 percent of total fat to the average British diet! Meat has become a staple, usurping the role of much healthier carbohydrate-rich foods – grains, wholemeal bread, potatoes, legumes and all kinds of vegetables.

Even meat itself has changed and, portion-for-portion, its fat content has doubled since pre-war days, according to researchers at London Metropolitan University.

Consume just a few more calories each day than you need and you’ll gain weight. Thirty too many equals one kilogram (over two pounds) by the end of a year. Over 10 years it adds up to about one-and-a-half stones. Thirty kilocalories is the number contained in a tiny chicken nugget or a very small glass of semi-skimmed milk.

With people eating more and more fatty, calorific meat – particularly chicken – it is easy to take in more calories than the body can burn off. The American Cancer Society followed 75,000 people for a decade and found the food which produced most weight gain was meat. Those eating more than one serving a day were 50 percent more likely to put on weight around the waist than those who ate meat infrequently.

Which strategies are effective in helping to prevent or treat obesity?

The good news is that most overweight people shed pounds when they change to a veggie diet despite eating the same weight of food – 1,000 kilograms a year. On average veggies’ BMI is lower by two, meaning they are likely to weigh less and have less body fat than meat eaters. And losing weight this way goes hand-in-hand with long-term good health.

For simple dietary switches you can make to maximise health and weight loss, click here or see our V-Plan diet guide. Switching from scrambled eggs to scrambled tofu, for example, would spare you 200 calories in one sitting!