OBESITY is now such a problem in the UK that one leading expert describes it as a pandemic, with patients getting bigger and presenting younger.
One in four adults and a fifth of children aged ten to 11 in the UK are now believed to have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or over, which together with a large waist size, is considered obese.
It can increase the risk of developing cancer, heart attacks and strokes. It can also lead to diabetes and associated complications including nerve damage and poor blood circulation which, in extreme cases, can lead to ulcers that cause such severe tissue and bone destruction that amputation is needed.
Today Sun on Sunday Health can reveal that record numbers of people are having legs, feet and toes amputated due to Type 2 diabetes — with the NHS performing a staggering 2,912 amputations during the course of past year alone.
Almost 200 of those patients were aged under 50 and 17 were only in their twenties.
And this month the NHS approved the use of a new jab called Semaglutide, so patients can inject themselves to suppress appetite.
Researchers in the US, at the University of Alabama, found that it led to the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes falling by 61 per cent.
But obesity expert Dr Chinnadorai Rajeswaran, above, says people have simply got used to “eating too much and not exercising enough” and he wants them to now think about changing their lifestyles.
The consultant physician, who runs an obesity service for the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, told us: “We are facing a new pandemic in obesity.
“Lockdown made a lot of people lonely, which triggered depression, and they started eating too much.
“They know they shouldn’t but they still do it because the emotional brain works much faster than the rational brain. Fifteen years ago you saw a lot of people with a BMI of around 40. Now it’s 50, 60, 70 — super-obese patients.
“We are also seeing more people in their twenties and thirties with serious weight problems who, without treatment, are going to develop diabetes, immobility, heart attacks, strokes and cancers.
“Morbidly obese people need psychological support.
“The depression rate suffered is very high. They don’t socialise and have low self-esteem and confidence.”
In May this year, a shocking report revealed that more than 42million adults in the UK will be overweight or obese by 2040 and at higher risk of developing one of 13 types of cancer.
Data was collected by the charity Cancer Research UK to highlight the growing problem and the need for action.
Dr Rajeswaren added: “I never tell people to eat less and exercise more — everybody knows that already.
“But there are a few things everyone can do which will make a difference, and right now, every little helps.”
Here he shares eight tips for how we can all try to keep our weight under control . . .
1. REDUCE SITTING TIME
A SEDENTARY lifestyle is one of the biggest causes of obesity. Move around every day. When the TV adverts are on, go and walk about the house. Get up from your desk every hour and walk around the house again. It all adds up.
2. LEAVE A MOUTHFUL
DON’T listen to Granny’s advice about clearing all the food off your plate. Instead, always leave one mouthful behind. If you always eat what you are served because you don’t like waste then you will increase your waist circumference.
3. EAT SLOWLY
REDUCE the speed at which you eat. The brain needs time to send a message to the stomach to say it is full up. If you eat too fast, the message won’t get through in time. You’ll eat too much, feel bloated and pile on the weight.
4. DELETE APPS
GET rid of Deliveroo or Just Eat from your phone. It’s so quick to order food today but that is contributing to weight gain. The time you’ll have to spend downloading it again might make you think twice about ordering that takeaway.
THOSE who have a disturbed night’s sleep are more likely to be overweight. You need to plan for your sleep, just like you plan meals. Begin to wind down two hours before your planned bedtime, switching off all screens including mobile phones.
6. DON’T DELAY PUDDING
IF you are really craving cake, have it alongside your meal. First, you will eat less if you are full from dinner, and second, grazing between meals leaves your body confused. The brain signals that tell you to stop eating when full may not come.
7. MIX UP FASTING DIETS
INTERMITTENT fasting is beneficial for health and can help you lose weight. But after a while, the body learns when food will arrive and stops burning your fat stores. Keep changing the fasting time and duration. One week try the 5:2 diet and the next try the 16:8, where you eat all your meals within an eight-hour window.
8. DRINK WATER BEFORE A MEAL
DOWN a glassful before you start eating to fill up. Drinking while eating will speed up the absorption of food and make you put on weight.
THE TRUTH ABOUT CHOLESTEROL
OCTOBER is National Cholesterol Month – and almost half of UK adults have raised cholesterol.
It is a blood fat made in the liver which plays a vital role in how our cells work. It’s needed for digestion, to make steroid hormones and vitamin D.
But if levels are raised, it can lead to heart disease.
Dr Dermot Neely, of the charity Heart UK, said: “In the blood, cholesterol is carried in two forms. LDL cholesterol is often called ‘bad’ cholesterol, as too much of it can fur up the arteries, causing heart attacks and strokes.
“HDL, or ‘good’ cholesterol, helps to prevent a harmful build-up.”
High cholesterol can be genetic but other factors have an impact, including a diet high in saturated fat, being physically inactive, overweight and drinking too much alcohol. Smoking makes LDL stickier and more dangerous.
Dr Neely said: “You might be very lucky and even if your diet and lifestyle is not perfect, you might still have a healthy cholesterol level in the blood.
“Or you might be unlucky and even with the perfect diet and lifestyle, you might end up with high cholesterol.
“The majority of people have no idea until they have a heart attack. But you can have a simple blood test at a pharmacy, GP or part of the NHS Health Check to find out.
“And the good news is, by taking steps to reduce cholesterol, the fatty plaque will start to melt away.
“Doctors look at changing diets and genetics before giving statins medication.”