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What Does Obesity Look Like?


World Obesity Day, a unified day of action involving various sectors across the globe, was set up to increase awareness of the global obesity crisis. Previous World Obesity Days encouraged people to increase their knowledge of the disease, tackle weight stigma and champion the voices of people with lived experience and this year it aims to help us harness the power of conversation and stories so we can correct misconceptions surrounding obesity, whilst acknowledging its complexities in order to take effective, collective action.

So why do we even need World Obesity Day?

Well, according to the most recent NHS health survey, 2 in 3 adults in the UK are now overweight or obese, with men representing a larger chunk than women, and with this prevalence increasing as we age, reaching its peak between ages of 65-74. And the picture is even grimmer when we consider global data in which we expect to see a 100% increase in childhood obesity between 2020 and 2035, and nearly 2 billion people living with obesity by the same date.

So, our population is without a doubt carrying a lot of extra weight and it’s fair to say that because so many of us now fit into these categories, most of us can no longer recognise if someone is overweight or obese.

So, what do you think ‘obese’ looks like?

In our line-up, can you correctly identify where our model moves from a healthy weight to overweight and into the obese category? In this example the woman is 35 years old and 5ft 5in.

Do we ever really know how big we are? Mirrors in shops tell lies as blatant as those at funfairs. Then there are those of us with ‘full length mirror phobia’ who might not have looked in the mirror in a while – #WeGetYou.  Individuals may have an awareness that they need to lose a few pounds, or are even considered overweight, but they are probably unaware of how ‘small’ obese is. Those who are ‘overweight’ (i.e., not yet obese) are also more likely to continue the pattern and become obese over time.

The body mass index equation (BMI) is the one way to quantify the amount of excess fat relative to your height and can serve as a warning for weight-related co-morbidities that may develop in the future (obviously this doesn’t apply to large, muscley athletes).

Know your BMI

Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on your weight in relation to your height. Have you got your calculator ready?

Here’s the calculation:

Divide your weight in kilos by your height in metres squared.

For example, for a woman who is 5ft 5in and weighing 13st her BMI calculation would be:

  • 82.5 / (1.65 x 1.65) = 30

The BMI number describes the degree of overweight or obesity as follows:

    • Healthy weight — BMI of 18.5-24.9 kg/m2.
    • Overweight — BMI of 25-29.9 kg/m2.
    • Obesity class 1 — BMI of 30-34.9 kg/m2.
    • Obesity class 2 — BMI of 35-39.9 kg/m2.
    • Obesity class 3 — BMI of 40 kg/mor more.

Remember, there’s 14 lbs to one stone and 12 inches to one foot. And there’s 2.54cm to one inch and 2.2lbs to 1kg.

If we don’t even realise what an unhealthy weight is, then how can anyone ever help themselves?  If you can’t see it, you can’t attempt to have a conversation about it and as a society, we need to become more aware of what obesity looks like in the flesh, so that we can recognise the danger that lies ahead.

Start here, start today!