63%. That’s the percentage of the adult population in England that were overweight or obese in 2015 according to figures from Public Health England. Sixty-three per cent. That’s crazy. And all of those roughly 34.5 million people are at a significantly raised risk of dying from a weight-related illness according to a paper published in the New England Journal Of Medicine.
The paper found that in 2015 nearly four million people died worldwide from diseases related to weight, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Of these 60% were obese, but 40% were classed as merely overweight by their BMI measurement.
The BMI threshold for obesity is 30, but anyone who scores 25 or over is overweight, and from that point onwards the risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease starts to increase. The study looked at data from 195 countries between 1980 and 2015 and revealed that 2.2 billion children and adults – about 30% of the world’s population – are overweight or obese.
There are, of course, well-known problems with using the BMI measurement in isolation. It doesn’t differentiate between muscle and fat and so someone can be overweight on its scale without actually being unhealthy. The standard example is a rugby player who has so much muscle mass that they are classed as obese despite being in prime condition. To combat this issue it’s wise to also measure your body fat percentage and waist size.
RECOMMENDED: What Is A Healthy Body Fat Percentage?
However, at a population level BMI is useful to get an idea of the health risks linked with weight gain – and at an individual level, you will probably know if the fact you’re classed as overweight on the BMI scale is down to excess muscle or a beer belly (be honest now). If it’s the latter, this research suggests that underestimating the risks of being even just a tad paunchy is a mistake.
This year the focus of Men’s Health Week is on belly fat and the importance of keeping tabs on your waist size. Fat carried around the midriff is especially dangerous because it envelops your internal organs and is directly linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. To measure your waist size, wrap a tape around your stomach just below the bellybutton, and if it’s over 94cm (37 inches) it’s time to take action.
RECOMMENDED: Check Your Belly Fat For Men’s Health Week