You don’t need a doctor to tell you that being overweight is unhealthy. But rather than focusing on the numbers on the scale, it is important to consider WHERE fat is located on your body when it comes to assessing your health risks. Over the past couple of years, the Heart Foundation has been running graphic ad campaigns around Australia trying to raise awareness about ‘grabbable guts’ or excess weight around the waist. These ads show that even if you are not overweight, having a ‘grabbable gut’ can be dangerous. Research shows that people with high amounts of fat around their abdomens- compared to other parts of the body- have a higher risk of developing health problems including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. This is because the amount of fat stored around your abdomen is usually indicative of fat surrounding your internal organs. Surprisingly, belly fat is a better indicator of your chances of developing T2 diabetes than your BMI (body mass index)- the ratio of weight to height. If you do have a grabbable gut don’t despair as there are simple things you can do to rid yourself of any excess baggage around your waist and improve your health in the long term.
What you can do:
Improve your diet: Losing weight around your mid-section is a great start to get your health back on track. The less fat you have around your waist, the lower your risks are of developing chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. You can start by avoiding sugary drinks, watching the types of fats that you eat and reducing your portion sizes. Eating the wrong foods puts unneeded calories into your body, which is then stored as fat.
Get some exercise: I say some because I know how hard it can be to get started and I think some exercise is better than none at all. Along with a healthy diet, exercise assists you in losing weight, improves mood, boosts energy and combats disease. The health benefits of physical activity are numerous and should not be underestimated. Remember that change doesn’t happen overnight and simple modifications to your lifestyle can make a HUGE difference to your overall health!
Until next time, stay safe and be healthy!
Approximately 1.7 million people have diabetes in Australia. This figure includes all types of diagnosed diabetes as well as silent, undiagnosed type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Australia estimates that 280 people Australians are diagnosed with diabetes every single day. What’s even more alarming is that many Australians aren’t aware that they have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. While these numbers are staggering, the good news is that type 2 diabetes is manageable and with a few lifestyle changes you can prevent or even delay the onset of the disease.
So what is diabetes?
Basically, diabetes is a condition where there is too much glucose (a kind of sugar) in the blood. Glucose is used as the body’s main source of energy and comes from foods that contain carbohydrates such as breads, cereals, pasta, fruit, starchy vegetables and milk. Once food is digested, glucose is released and absorbed into the bloodstream.
In order for our bodies to function properly, we need to convert glucose from food into energy. A hormone called insulin is needed in order to properly convert glucose into energy. Unfortunately, people with diabetes do not produce enough insulin to convert glucose into energy and, have higher than normal blood sugar levels.
About Type 2:
Type 2 Diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, affecting more than 85% of people with diabetes. While T2 Diabetes is most common in older people, more and more young people are being diagnosed with the condition, including children. Unlike Type 1 Diabetes, people with T2 Diabetes still produce some insulin and usually do not need insulin injections to manage their condition. The most important thing to remember about T2 Diabetes is that it is preventable in most cases and easily managed with the right lifestyle choices.
Are you at risk?
While there is no one cause for T2 Diabetes, there are well established risk factors- some which can be changed and others that cannot.
You are at a higher risk of getting Type 2 Diabetes if you:
- have a family history of diabetes
- are over the age of 45- the risk increases as we age.
- are overweight- if you have a BMI greater than 25 and lead a sedentary lifestyle, you are at greater risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
- are from Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background OR, from a Pacific Island, Indian subcontinent or Chinese cultural background
- have a history of gestational diabetes- women who develop diabetes during pregnancy or deliver a baby over 4.5 kgs are at a greater risk of developing diabetes.
Check your risks by completing the AUSDRISK Assessment.