British men are the most overweight in Europe, so says a study from The European Society of Cardiology, which looked at 56 countries across Europe, north Africa, and the Middle East.
The UK has the highest level of obesity in Western Europe, ahead of countries such as France, Germany, Spain and Sweden. Twenty-seven per cent of men are counted as obese in the UK, and 30% of women are in the obese category.
The average percentage of people considered overweight for high income countries is twenty-three per cent.
Keeping a healthy weight can prevent individuals from developing heart disease and diabetes. Sadly, this message is not getting through within the UK.
Why extra weight means a bigger risk
Fat doesn’t just affect the way we look: being overweight has big implications on one’s health. For example, type-2 diabetes has doubled, from 2 to 4 per cent on average. High-income countries have a higher average prevalence – 5 per cent.
It’s estimated that over half the population could be obese by 2050.
A person is considered overweight if they have a body mass index (BMI) between 25 and 29, and obese with a BMI of 30 and above. BMI refers to your weight in kilograms divided by height in metres, and divided by height again.
Does BMI work?
However, many medical experts see BMI as an outdated term, because it sees weight itself as unhealthy.
In fact, it is fat that is unhealthy – not muscles or bones.
If you want to find out whether you are at risk for diabetes and heart disease, the most accurate tool is the DEXA scanner.
DEXA (also known as DXA) stands for dual energy X-ray absorptiometry.
Initially developed for detecting osteoporosis, DEXA is now used as a super-precise method for analysing body composition. It has become the go-to tool for both athletes and those who wish to lose weight to track changes and improvements in weight and training.
Better still, it uses very low radiation levels, so it is considered safe for patients to self-refer.
How does DEXA work?
DEXA works by having two separate X-ray beams with different energy levels are aimed at the body.
Some of the radiation is taken in by the bone and soft tissue and some travels through your body.
The DEXA scanner works out how much radiation is being passed through your bones by directing X-ray energy through the bone at a very fast rate, alternating from two different sources. This allows the scanner to work out your bone density.
In terms of soft tissue measurements (fat and lean body mass) it is measured in areas where there is no bone is present.
A DEXA scan can even detect whether the fat present is stored around internal organs such as the liver, pancreas and intestines. This is where men are more prone to hold on to weight - it is also the kind of fat most associated with heart disease and diabetes.
The scan calculates whether the amount of fat in the body is comparable for a person of the same age, sex and ethnicity.
The best method for losing weight
So, what happens if the results reveal you are overweight? You can seek advice from professionals such as dietitians, nutritionists and personal trainers.
Rick Miller, a qualified dietitian who specialises in weight loss goals through weigh loss goals commented:
“One of the hardest aspects of reducing weight for many individuals is integrating healthy eating advice into their own lifestyles.”
Miller added: “Even if you take two individuals within the same remit as my nutrition speciality, sports performance nutrition, with exactly the same goal – the advice and the foods they are advised to eat could be completely different.
Everyone is built uniquely, has different medical concerns, perhaps food intolerances or their relationship with food and eating behaviours are influencing what they eat, so it must be personalised.”