If you are "overweight", you are carrying too much body fat for your height. Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measurement of your weight against your height. You can become overweight when you eat more calories than you burn off over a period of time.
In the UK, people with a BMI between 25 and 30 are categorised as overweight, and those with an index above 30 are categorised as obese. People with a BMI of 40 or more are described as morbidly obese. We are usually able to obtain Life Insurance for overweight people with a Body Mass Index of up to 55, sometimes higher.
It is estimated that more than half the adults in the UK are heavier than recommended. About 2 in 5 adults are overweight, and about a further 1 in 5 are obese. The number of obese people in the UK is rising, particularly among young adults. Since 1980, the number of obese adults in the UK has nearly tripled. This has been called the 'obesity epidemic'.
It is important to remember that there will be a range of healthy body weights or body mass index, depending on your height, age and sex. A combination of factors determines our weight or BMI, and it is therefore difficult to set an exact ideal weight that will apply to everyone. However aiming to keep within the recommended range of healthy weight, as measured by the Body Mass Index for your age and sex, is what you should aim for.
Due to the media and the images which appear of celebrities, many people have a distorted perception of what constitutes a healthy body weight or body mass index. If your BMI indicates that you are overweight, changes to your lifestyle could help to control your weight, and get you back within a healthy BMI range.
If you are overweight, it is important to think about how you can make changes to your diet and physical activity over the long term. Reducing your body mass index by losing weight should not be a quick fix, but a permanent change in your lifestyle, otherwise the weight may come back on.
If you are overweight, i.e. your BMI or body mass index is above the range which is considered healthy, you are at increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers such as colon, prostate and breast cancer. You are also more likely to experience joint problems and back pain, and may find you become breathless and have difficulty sleeping. The more overweight you are, the more severe these problems may become. Many mainstream insurers will also turn your application for life cover down if you have a high BMI, but getting life insurance for overweight people is our speciality, so please get in touch.
For most obese or overweight people, it is said that much of the health benefits come with losing the first 5-10% of your weight. If you are obese, on average, if you reduce your weight by 10%:
- You are much less likely to develop the conditions listed above, such as diabetes.
- If you already have high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, or diabetes, these conditions are likely to improve, and you may be able to reduce your medication (although only with the consent of your doctor).
- Your chance of dying at any given age is said to reduce by about 20%. This is mainly because you are less likely to die from heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or obesity related cancers.
Losing weight and reducing your BMI depends on the balance between the amount of energy you get from the food and drink you consume, and the amount of energy that you burn through physical activity. If you consume more energy than you use, you will gain weight and your body mass index will increase.
Cutting calories by reducing how much you eat and drink, and increasing how much physical activity you do, will make you lose weight and reduce your body mass index. It is estimated that if you reduce your daily energy intake to around 500 calories below your energy requirements, you'll lose about 0.5kg (1lb) a week. This is a sensible rate of weight loss.
If you are overweight, it is crucial to set realistic goals. To lose weight - and keep it off - you'll need to make permanent changes to your diet and physical activity patterns. Think carefully about your daily routine. Keeping a diary of what food you eat, and when, as it may help you to identify patterns in your eating behaviour. This will help you to decide on realistic changes you need to make. Remember drastic lifestyle changes will be difficult to maintain over time.