Interview with Gillian Browne, Health Improvement Dietitian with the Community Food and Nutrition Team, Western Trust.
Q) What would be the main contributing factors to obesity?
A) Unfortunately there is no one major contributing factor to obesity. While weight gain is the result of a relatively simple energy imbalance, there are many complex influences such as social and individual psychology, physiology, food production and consumption, individual activity, and the environment we live in that causes changes to our energy intake and expenditure.
Q) There seems to be a big focus on tackling this locally, including the recent Trust roadshow. What impact are Trust initiatives combined with the higher uptake in boot camps, gyms and running groups etc and better infrastructure in terms of pedestrians ways etc having, along with initiatives promoting greater awareness with regards the benefits of fitness and healthy eating?
A) Although the level of overweight and obesity in Northern Ireland is 61% in adults and 25% in children, the level has remained static since 2005/06. While tackling obesity in the whole population is a public health priority it is important that local initiatives continue to help educate and provide useful tools so that each individual can make suitable changes to improve their own health and wellbeing.
Q) What are the main health risks to children and adults from obesity?
A) Obesity can lead to a number of problems, from difficulties with daily activities eg: osteoarthritis, gout,
breathing problems, such as sleep apnea, joint pain, to serious health conditions such as coronary heart, disease, stroke, diabetes; Some types of cancers ie: breast cancer and bowel cancer.
It can also affect quality of life and lead to psychological problems such as low self-esteem or depression.
Q) What first steps can people on the Obese Register or those who are overweight take in order to make changes in their own lives for the better?
A) Obesity prevention is not about making huge lifestyle changes; it’s about making manageable changes which are easy to stick to. Small changes = Big benefits.
*Set achievable targets - Aim for 1-2lb weight loss per week.
*Reduce portion sizes – by using a side plate instead of a dinner plate you can reduce your calorie intake by 20%.
*Being active will help you feel better both physically and mentally.
*Be active every day, aiming for 30 minutes most days.
*You don’t have to do it all at once – try 3 x 10 minute walks or 2 x 15 minute walks
*Sit less and move more – after 90 minutes of sitting, your metabolism slows dramatically
*Buy a pedometer or download an app on your phone and aim to take at least 10,000 steps a day
*For further information on waist measuring, healthy eating recipes, food labelling, portion sizes, portion swaps, physical activity tips. Check out the website: www.choosetolivebetter.com or contact the Health Improvement Dept 028 71865127.