Just 20 years ago most people were slim but now when you look around being overweight is not unusual; it's almost the norm. Within a generation the simple, traditional, healthy diets of the past have changed in favour of western-style, high fat, factory-made food. Rocketing levels of obesity are common in newly wealthy countries such as China, India and Brazil.
In recent years restaurant chains and fast food outlets have arrived to cash in on the increase in wealth and the need for ready-made meals. Fast food thrives in countries where people are cash rich but time poor.
A recent survey of expatriates showed that they often gained weight after arriving in Gulf countries. Many expatriates come to the Gulf with the main aim of working really hard and saving money to invest in their future, but they forget it is also important to invest in their health. If we allow ourselves to become unhealthy who are we helping? It is what you do today that affects your health tomorrow. While there are clinical causes for weight gain, for the majority of us it is due to over-eating and a lack of exercise. But with education it is preventable.
Your Body Mass Index (BMI) gives a good indication of whether you are a healthy weight and what percentage of your body is fat. I frequently receive letters asking how to calculate BMI, and if you are feeling lazy, you can find a BMI calculator at www.naturalhealthlines.com or else, you can follow the guide below.
Working it out
BMI is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in metres squared:
BMI = weight (kg)
height (m) x height (m)
Sara weighs 90 kilos and her height is 1.60 metres. The BMI calculation would be
1.60 times 1.60 = 2.56
90 divided by 2.56 = 35
This gives her BMI, which is interpreted as follows:
Under 20 = underweight
20-25 = ideal healthy weight
25-30 = overweight and advisable to lose weight
30-40 = you should lose weight for your health as you are in the obese category
Over 40 = seriously overweight and in grave health danger
If you find that you are overweight, you need to make a sensible plan and aim to lose weight gradually. You can aim for 250 grams a week by making sensible, gradual changes to exercise and diet every week. Make time for some exercise, even if it is only stair climbing every day.
In six weeks, you will notice a difference. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org for a free copy of my healthy eating guide. If you find that you are overweight or obese it is time to make small changes that will gradually lead to a healthy routine. The weather is now perfect for an early morning walk or an evening stroll; just taking this extra exercise will have an impact on your long term good health. Try also to fit some exercise into your day such as always taking the stairs for one floor instead of the elevator.
Make water your main drink of the day and eat two light meals and one main meal a day. In a normal diet you are allowed to have three snacks a day, two of which should be healthy, such as fruit or some nuts – but you can also allow yourself a small treat, such as a small candy bar. Remember that one healthy person inspires another. If you would like more information about healthy living you can sign up for my newsletter by emailing email@example.com.