According to the National Health Survey, a survey conducted every six years, obesity rates have nearly doubled in Singapore, from 6.9 per cent in 2004 to 10.8 per cent in 2010.
"Obesity is defined as the excess body fat in a person, and the recent trend of expanding waistlines can be attributed to the excess in caloric intake resulting from a more westernised diet and a more sedentary lifestyle. On top of that, obesity is a complex medical condition involving various genetic, environmental and psycho-social factors," says Dr Tan Hong Chang, associate consultant at the LIFE Centre of Singapore General Hospital (SGH).
Simply put, with a decrease in physical activity and an increase in caloric intake, it is easier to become obese.
Related article: What to eat to lose fat
Say no to expanding waistlines!
Here are five simple tips to take charge of your weight. It may sound like such basic advice, but you'd be surprised how much this really counts!
- Mind your calories: Not many people realise how many calories they are consuming in their daily diet. Meina Armanda, dietitian, Department of Dietetics, SGH, explains: "Even regular 3-in-1 coffee has approximately 100 calories per cup, so having a few javas a day can add up."
- Skip the gravy: "While gravy doesn't appear to have a high fat content, it does especially for dishes with a lot of visible oil floating on them, and it can contribute to those extra calories", says Armanda. So skip the gravy, and just eat the main dish ingredients.
- Have regular meals to keep your metabolism up: "It is important to consume regular meals," says Armanda. "Otherwise your metabolism might go down and it will lead to weight gain. Having irregular meals may also lead to increased intake of high fat snacks that are easily accessible and this in turn increases your calorie intake."
- Consume less fat and sugar: Be wary of fat and sugar in your food. Ms Armanda adds: "Even what you drink matters. For instance, not many are aware that fruit juices are high in sugar."
- Keep moving: Make it a point to be physically active, says Stephanie Tan, physiotherapist, Department of Physiotherapy, SGH. "If you are working at a desk-bound job, you can still work in some simple exercises and physical activity, like standing while making a phone call or walking to the toilet more often."
Related article: How many calories per hour can you burn with different exercises?
Know where you stand
There are many ways to measure body fat, such as by waist circumference or waist-to-hip ratio.
But measuring one's BMI, or Body Mass Index, is the most popular way to do so. Many online calculators exist but you can calculate your BMI yourself using this formula:
WEIGHT in kilograms / HEIGHT2 in metres
For example, if you're 65 kg and 1.70m tall, the formula is: 65 / (1.70 x 1.70) = 22.5
In Asians, a BMI of more than 27.5 is considered obese. In Western countries, a person is defined as obese if he or she has a BMI of more than 30.
BMI values apply to both men and women, regardless of age or frame size.
Related article: What your body shape says about your health
Health complications linked to excess weight
While a couple of extra pounds do not pose a health risk for most people, being overweight or obese can lead to the development of weight-related health problems.
"Those with a higher BMI are more likely to be plagued by medical conditions like hypertension (or high blood pressure), diabetes, heart attack and stroke," says Dr Tan. "There are also physical complications like joint pain, difficulty in keeping up with physical activities and obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA)."
These health problems can affect the quality of life and more importantly lead to a reduced life expectancy. Psychologically, a person's mood and self-esteem might also be affected.
Related article: The big benefits of being fit
Interested in knowing the amount of energy you expend at rest (aka your metabolic rate)? SGH LIFE Centre is looking for research study participants. You will know your exact resting metabolic rate, daily energy needs and body composition, which will help you tailor your daily energy intake to aid in weight management. Best of all, it's FREE!
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Health Xchange's articles are meant for informational purposes only and cannot replace professional surgical, medical or health advice, examination, diagnosis, or treatment.