Christmas was definitely the season of excess; depending on which evidence you believe it is estimated that most of us have put on between one and five pounds over the festive season. Much of this weight is a bit like putting more air in the spare tyre!
But did you know that tackling your expanding waistline may not just make you look better but can also mean you live longer. Research in the UK showed that most people were not aware that carrying excess weight around the waist put them at increased risk of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Waist circumference is a good indicator of visceral fats; it is thought that visceral fat is especially dangerous as it releases hormones that can cause damage to the arteries. Waist size does tend to increase with age, but there is some good news in that weight loss tends to occur on visceral fat first, therefore any action taken can have huge immediate benefits.
So how big is too big? Well, women should aim to have a waist size no bigger than 80cm (31.5 inches ) while men should aim for no more than 94cm (37 inches ).
If you think you have a problem, wrap a tape measure round your waist and see, just what ‘damage’ Christmas has done. But never fear; there is lots you can do that will reduce your waist size and make you healthier.
Losing weight sounds easy – you just need to eat fewer calories than your body needs. This will force your body to use its stores of fat and therefore you lose weight. Eating just 500 calories fewer per day will lead you to burn off 1lb per week. If you are more active you will help to use up more calories, as exercise will help tone you up at the same time. Putting this into practice can be more difficult, so it’s good to have support - maybe a friend or other family member. January is a great time to try something new.
For more information on diet and nutrition, please contact the Community Nutrition and Dietetic Service, HSE Dublin-Mid Leinster on (044 ) 9395518 or email [email protected].