Health data for people living with obesity

What is obesity?

The World Health Organisation and many other health care bodies recognize obesity as a complex chronic disease. This view is also shared by health care professionals in Ireland. This is important for several reasons:

  • To promote the understanding that obesity is often a consequence of the environment that we live in which encourages an unhealthy lifestyle.
  • To highlight to those living with obesity, and the wider population that obesity can negatively impact health.
  • To ensure that patients know that obesity is not their fault and help others be more respectful to those who are living with obesity.

We don’t consider a person with heart disease as being neglectful, or that the disease is all their fault. For most people, a lifestyle change will improve their health e.g. lower blood cholesterol and blood pressure. For others, drugs may be necessary or, for a small number, surgery is required. Obesity is a disease that deserves to be treated in the same way.

How do you measure obesity?

The most common way to measure obesity is to work out Body Mass Index (BMI).³

To work out your BMI, you first need to find out:
• how many kilograms (kg) you weigh; and
• what height you are in metres (m).

You then:
• divide your weight in kilograms by your height in metres; and
• divide that answer by your height again to get your BMI.

How to calculate your BMI

To calculate your BMI click on the button below:

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For most adults, a BMI of:³
• 18.5 to 24.9 means you’re a healthy weight;
• 25 to 29.9 means you fall into the overweight category;
• 30 to 39.9 means you fall into the obese category; and
• 40 or above means you fall into the severely obese category.

Measuring excess fat

While BMI measures obesity, we need more information about body fat if someone is overweight (with a BMI of 25 to 29.9) or moderately obese (with a BMI of 30 to 34.9). A good way to do this is to find out the circumference of a person’s waist.⁴ Circumference is the measure around your body above your hip bone.

A better measure of excess fat is waist circumference. Waist circumference is considered a reasonable indicator of visceral fat. Visceral fat is deep fat that’s stored underneath the skin and is wrapped around major organs, including the liver, pancreas and kidneys. This fat is closely associated with increased risk of other health conditions.³

Men with a waist circumference of 94cm (37 inches) or more; and women with a waist circumference of 80cm (about 31.5 inches) or more; are more likely to develop obesity-related health problems.⁴

What are the risks of obesity?

Being overweight or obese are major risk factors for some chronic (long-term) diseases like¹-⁴:
• type 2 diabetes;
• coronary heart disease;
• some types of cancer, such as breast cancer and bowel cancer; and
• stroke.

Obesity can also affect your quality of life and lead to psychological problems, like depression and low self-esteem.⁴

What causes obesity?

The main cause of obesity and being overweight is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories used.

Obesity is an increasingly common chronic disease in modern society because of the environment we live in. Oftentimes, food that is cheap and accessible is high in calories and low in nutritional benefit. We also spend more time sitting down at our desks and in cars instead of walking and exercising. These activities all contribute to an increase in obesity

What can you do to help lose weight?

It is not always easy to lose weight, but if you follow the tips below, you will start to notice a difference in your weight and your health.

Eat less

• Limit how much energy you take in from fats and sugars.⁴

Eat more
• Eat more fruit and vegetables.
• Eat more legumes (peas and beans), whole grains and nuts.⁴

• Take regular physical activity:
• One hour a day for children; and
• Two and a half hours spread through the week for adults.⁴

Eat a balanced diet
• Eat a balanced, calorie-controlled diet as recommended by your GP or weight loss management health professional.⁵
• Eat slowly and avoid situations where you know you could be tempted to eat too much.⁵

How can a weight, food and exercise diary help?

People who track their food intake and physical activity – whether it is with pencil and paper, a computer programme, or an app on their phone – tend to be more successful with their weight loss programme than those who do not.

Click the button below for a useful checklist to help you keep track of your progress in following your diet and exercise programme.

At the end of each week, give yourself a score of 0, 1 or 2 points for each item:

0 = Not at all
1 = A little
2 = Yes

Then, tally the list to determine your total score for the week. You can keep track of your progress from week to week to see how well you are doing and where you can improve. You can also use this checklist with your doctor to guide your weight loss plan.

What are the benefits of 5 – 10% weight loss?

You can dramatically improve your health and reduce your likelihood of developing overweight- or obesity-related medical conditions by achieving a 5-10% weight loss.

If you are overweight or obese and reduce your weight by 5-10%, the benefits to your health mean you will reduce the risk of developing:⁶
• cancer;
• diabetes; and
• cardiovascular-related diseases.

You will also:
• reduce your blood pressure;
• increase your HDL cholesterol (HDL is the ‘good’ cholesterol); and
• improve any sleep apnoea, snoring and disruptive sleeping patterns.

Mysimba® is not indicated for these conditions



IE-MYS-137  | Date of preparation: August 2020

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