Has the ‘middle age spread’ spread a little too far? Saga Health Insurance’s recent survey found that 50 per cent of over 50s are overweight which spells trouble for heart diseas.
A recently published European study of almost 200,000 people has shown that a one unit increase in body mass index (BMI) raises the risk of heart failure by 17 per cent. Being overweight (BMI 25-30) and especially being obese (BMI over 30) increases your risk of several health problems including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes - all of which are risk factors for heart disease.
Managing your weight can be difficult, but making small changes to your lifestyle can have a big impact on your health as well as helping you to get slimmer, fitter, and full of life.
Put a heart-healthy weight on your menu with these handy hints:
Make simple swaps like opting for low-calorie versions of fizzy drinks and choosing low-fat dairy products such as semi-skimmed milk and low-fat yoghurts to cut your intake of calories without losing out on calcium. Make fruit and vegetables your first choice for snacks when hungry instead of crisps and confectionery that are high in sugar and fats and low in nutritional value. Go slow on the alcohol, using smaller glasses and lower-strength drinks like shandy, alternating with diluted soft drinks. All these changes will naturally reduce your daily calorie intake without the need for counting.
Cook smart with fat-free cooking methods such as steaming, grilling, boiling and baking where possible. If you need to fry foods, invest in a good non-stick frying or griddle pan to minimise the need for fat, choose olive oil or rapeseed oil and use a spray or small spoon to limit the amount.
Limit takeaways and convenience foods as these are often high in calories, saturated fats and salt and spell bad news for the heart. When eating out, opt for tomato-based sauces rather than creamy ones, choose boiled or steamed rice instead of pilau or egg fried, and avoid deep fried foods such as samosas, bhajis and food in batter.
Get active to burn excess calories, tone your muscles, keep your heart healthy and accelerate the weight loss you’re achieving through watching what you eat. Start simple and gradually build up to longer and more intensive sessions as your fitness improves. Why not join the gym, jog, walk, play golf, dance or swim with a friend for extra motivation. Visit the NHS Choices and Change 4 Life websites to find sporting activities and weight loss support groups on your doorstep.
Making a few, easy-to-maintain changes to your diet could help you on your way to a trimmer waistline, reduced BMI and a healthier heart. A steadier weight loss is more likely to be sustained so don’t expect too much too soon, but remember a pound a week adds up to almost two stones in only six months.So commit to shedding those excess pounds and getting fitter, and enjoy the benefits of a healthier, happier, longer life.
For more information and advice about healthy living, contact Heart Research UK via email email@example.com.