As a society, we are getting larger. People continue to ask why but there don’t seem to be any definitive answers.
What’s happening? What’s not happening? How can we be so technologically advanced, yet our average weight continues to grow and grow? Most of all – are those extra few pounds we are all carrying around going to affect our health in the long-term?
The answer is complicated. To get to the root of the problem, we asked Registered Dietitian Nina Hirvi for some answers.
“There are dozens of factors that affect the average weight in society,” she explains.
“Everything from the rising cost, availability and taste of food, through to stress and inactivity. These are all changing the size of our waistbands.”
Nina goes on to explain that while some of us may be holding excess weight for specific reasons, for the majority, those extra 5-10 pounds are a result of small habits. These might include a late afternoon latte, having one or two cookies at that bi-weekly budget meeting, or even opting for a late night handful of chips while catching up on the latest episodes of your favourite show.
It’s understandable that many might be thinking, “but I don’t want to give up my cookies,” or “a few extra pounds won’t kill me.” However, it’s still important to consider the risk factors associated with holding on to excess weight.
While the last 10 pounds might not feel like the end of the world, they could still affect your health in the long-term.
Are those last 10lbs a health risk?
“When it comes to weight as an indicator of risk for diseases such as diabetes or Cancer, it’s important to look at where you hold the weight, rather than how much you are holding,” she says.
“Excess fat that puts you at a higher risk of disease is known as visceral fat: the fat that surrounds your internal organs, and is most commonly held around your midsection. This fat is considered toxic and can have a huge impact on how your body functions and possibly lead to higher risk of disease.”
Nina suggests that to check for visceral fat, the easiest first step is to take a look at your body type. If your shape is more of an apple than a pear, then you may want to consult your doctor to determine if you are at a higher risk and what your next steps might be to reduce your chances of developing disease.
How to lose those last 10lbs
If you aren’t holding extra weight around your midsection, but you’re still looking to improve your overall health, then you may be wondering what you can do to help shed a few pounds.
With all of the options for things like juice cleanses, 3-day “detoxes”, and diets such as low carb or intermittent fasting, it’s tempting to want to jump into something that will relieve you of your extra weight quickly. While this might seem like the ideal solution, Nina cautions not to look for an easy way out.
“A person needs to be thinking about what they’re currently doing and what changes they can make, as opposed to going for a quick fix,” she explains.
“A three day fast or cleanse will do little to eliminate long-term habits that established those extra pounds in the first place”
As for advice for losing those last 10 pounds, Nina urges you to ask yourself where it came from.
“Did you just come back from an all-inclusive vacation? Are you regularly drinking an extra glass of wine before bed? Track your habits over the next few weeks, so that you can take the necessary steps to change them. It might be easier than you think!”