Obesity levels soar

Figures from NHS Digital have shown that four in ten young adults in Britain are overweight.

We're getting fatter

The figure was less than three in ten in 1993, showing a significant leap in the last few decades.

Nearly three million 16- to 24-year-olds are overweight.

In total, 17 per cent of young men have a waist of at least 40 inches, compared with 4 per cent in 1993.

Almost a quarter – 23 cent of women in the age category have a waistband of at least 34.5 inches - a rise from 9 per cent in 1993.

Doctors worry a lot about weight carried in this area.

This is because it’s a sign of visceral fat - that’s fat that is stored within the abdominal cavity and may wrap its self around the liver, pancreas and intestines.

Visceral fat is dangerous stuff

Experts are concerned that this soaring weight problem may lead to millennials – those born in the early 80s through to the early 2000’s – may die at an earlier age than their parents’ generation.

 Some of the conditions associated with visceral fat include:

•             Heart disease

•             Diabetes 2

•             Cancer

•             Alzheimer’s

How can I tell if I am carrying visceral fat?

Not all fat is visceral fat. Women, although generally fatter than men, tend to store their fat in their hips, buttocks, thighs, and lower abdomen. Visceral fat is known as a “deep” fat that's stored further underneath the skin than “subcutaneous” belly fat.

One way if discovering whether you have the dangerous variety of visceral fat is to have a DEXA scanner equipped with ‘Advanced Body Composition’.

The capabilities of this scanner – which is completely safe, emitting minimal radiation -  will provide an accurate indication of total fat in the trunk region, .

Choose a DEXA machine with a CoreScan option, and the data can pinpoint whether this fat is stored around vital internal organs such as the liver, pancreas and intestines.

Once you know your risk factors, you can discuss how to reduce your risk with lifestyle changes or medications.

Getting rid of visceral fat

According to Stephanie Moore, Clinical Nutritionist at The Lanserhof, one of the reasons we are getting fatter is that we’ve received incorrect advice: that fat in foods is always bad.

On the contrary, eating healthy fats – such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat – has health benefits, including making you feel fuller. They may have more calories, but ironically, they may make you slimmer.

She says: “Reducing one’s intake of calories as a means to lose weight has been proven time and again to fail yet it continues to be promoted by GPs, fitness experts and health practitioners as an essential and effective weight loss tool.”

Rather, she explains we should be choosy over which foods we consume. “Carbohydrate-rich foods (sugars, flours, starchy veg), especially those that are highly processed, may have far fewer calories than fat and protein rich foods  like nuts, avocados, olive oil, butter, will far more readily increase stores of body fat.

Stephanie Moore explains: “These high carbohydrate foods cause a rapid increase in levels of sugar in your blood – blood glucose. High blood glucose levels trigger the hormone insulin to be sent into the bloodstream, as insulin regulates blood glucose levels.”

Sticking only to protein with no fat is not to be advised either. “An excess of protein-rich foods can also trigger insulin and fat storage but in comparison to carb-rich foods it is small,” she says. “However, an egg-white only omelette or a lean chicken breast, full or protein and barely any fat, is not a healthy or balanced option, so moderate protein is appropriate and should be eaten with fat and fibre, both of which elicit no insulin response.”

The part of the body that contains the stomach, intestines, liver, gallbladder and other organs. Full medical glossary
Relating to the abdomen, which is the region of the body between the chest and the pelvis. Full medical glossary
A fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. Full medical glossary
One of the three main food constituents (with carbohydrate and protein), and the main form in which energy is stored in the body. Full medical glossary
The basic unit of genetic material carried on chromosomes. Full medical glossary
A simple sugar that is an important source of energy in the body. Full medical glossary
A substance produced by a gland in one part of the body and carried by the blood to the organs or tissues where it has an effect. Full medical glossary
A hormone produced by the beta cells of the pancreas that acts to lower blood glucose levels. Full medical glossary
The section of gut, or gastrointestinal tract, from the stomach to the anus. Full medical glossary
The major part of the digestive tract. Full medical glossary
An element present in haemoglobin in the red cells. Full medical glossary
A large abdominal organ that has many important roles including the production of bile and clotting factors, detoxification, and the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Full medical glossary
A gland behind the stomach that produces digestive enzymes and the hormones insulin and glucagon, which together regulate glucose levels in the blood. Full medical glossary
A glandular organ that secretes digestive enzymes and hormones. Full medical glossary
Compounds that form the structure of muscles and other tissues in the body, as well as comprising enzymes and hormones. Full medical glossary
Energy in the form of waves or particles, including radio waves, X-rays and gamma rays. Full medical glossary